The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 72 (1994) > Issues > Issue 13 > Discussion on Active Engineering History by Mr R.J.M. Sutherland
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Discussion on Active Engineering History by Mr R.J.M. Sutherland

Dr J. G. M. Wood (F) You gave a beautiful example in your reference to the Royal Commission into the failure of a mill building. Students nowadays do not have the benefit of a Royal Commission on the failure of the Milford Haven Bridge; they do have the Australian Royal Commission on the failure of the Yarra Bridge. Do we analyse and recall our failures in public sufficiently well? My view is that, in this country, we grossly fail in this, and there is a classic paper by Alastair Walker, I think written for this Institution, about lessons from failures of Victorian structures, which he used to illustrate what was going wrong in the area of box girders. He could not mention modern steel bridges - someone might have sued him! - but history enabled him to draw the lessons from the past without pointing the finger. The key question is this: do we, as an Institution or a society, properly wash our linen in public so that it is on the record? The Milford Haven collapse is not on the record.