There are few who live life to the full in their work as well as their private lives. One such person was David Lawrence. David managed to fulfill a career in engineering that contributed to the civil development of major mining projects in his home country, South Africa, as well as several landmark infrastructure projects, including the Drakensburg Pumped Storage Scheme, where his connection with the international tunnelling fraternity began.
David died peacefully on 7 July 2015 at his adopted home on the Isle of Man in the UK, where he moved with his family in the 1990s.
Throughout his career, David was engaged on many important infrastructure engineering assignments. In South Africa, and as a director of the underground construction engineering company Basil Read, he worked on many mine development projects as well as underground civil infrastructure projects.
In the UK, David was engaged in the early stages of the geological investigation shaft for the planned nuclear waste repository facility in Cumbria, before the government of the day cancelled the project.
Following that, he joined the Kellogg Brown & Root team that managed the Dublin Port highway tunnel in Ireland –a project that was technically demanding and politically challenging. The project was completed, and Dublin is a changed city today due to the port’s heavy freight traffic being able to bypass the city centre to the national highway connections.
With close-out of the Dublin Port tunnel project, David retired to the Isle of Man, but he continued to be associated with the tunnelling industry as an independent consultant and worked with the LBA (London Bridge Association) consulting construction firm in the UK as a contracts advisor.
In South Africa, through his association with the construction phase of the Drakensburg Pumped Storage Scheme, David worked with expatriate engineers from many parts of the word, including Terry Mellors, Martin Knights, and John Sharp of the UK.
David had a truly international and interesting engineering career. He counted among his most interesting projects the legendary Med-Dead Sea tunnel that was proposed to convey water by gravity across Israel from the the Mediterranean Sea to the lower lever of the Dead Sea to replenish the depleting water resource of the Dead Sea while generating hydro power. Ironically regional civil unrest and threatened factional violence that killed off the project in the 1980s when David was already in the Middle East and working on the actual start of construction. A revival of the project could well contribute towards reconciliation and reasonable negotiation of peace in this fractious and unstable part of the world.
David was an engineer and professional in the international tunnelling business who was determined to present opportunities to others to be part of the real and exciting possibilities of the underground space and tunnelling industry. He was instrumental in advancing and developing the careers of many in the business.
His adventurous and committed, yet fun-loving approach to a professional career was a significant element of his success and the esteem that so many hold for him. He will be missed.