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From the age of seven I wanted to build bridges. I was first inspired by the Clifton suspension bridge in Bristol when on holiday there. The ambition carried me through school to Leeds University where I graduated BSc in 68 and PhD in 73.

That ambition was effectively accomplished in 1973/4 and 1977 working on the Humber Bridge. The first session was spent in Hessle Anchorage, the second working on the footbridge or catwalk.

1974-76 was spent on Ouse bridge near Goole and the Tay bridge on the Dunkeld Bypass. I became a Chartered Engineer (MICE) in 1975. Then my daughter started school and I had to stop travelling.

In September 1977 I joined the University of Dundee as a lecturer in Civil Engineering. I followed David Smith and Alan Vardy as Director of the Wolfson Bridge research Unit. I was seconded 3 days a week to SERC from 1984-1990 as co-ordinator of research in Repair maintenance and Operation in Civil Engineering, growing the programme from about £05m to £3m per year. In 1991 I was promoted Senior Lecturer and became head of department.

Throughout that period I worked on arch bridges, including developing (with my friend Fraser Smith) the Archie and Multi programs for arch bridge assessment.

In 1995 I was appointed first Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Exeter. In all I spent 25 years in teaching and research though the last two were part time.

In July 2000 I founded my consulting practice. I now have two businesses. I sell the Archie-M program for arch bridge analysis through OBVIS Ltd and look after old structures (mostly arch bridges) through Bill Harvey Associates Ltd. My clients have ranged from national organisations (Network Rail, English Heritage, Historic Scotland) to individuals with problem houses.

Even my wife has developed an interest in bridges, though she sometimes complains about the perils of being married to an enthusiast. As I say to her, when your work is your hobby, you never go to work.


BSc 1968
PhD 1973
CEng, MICE 1975
MIStructE 1995
FICE 1997
FIStructE 2003


Arch bridges, old buildings, walking, wildlife, renovating houses, gardening and, of course, teaching!