Thursday, September 28, 2023

Ted Flaxman legacy

Saying goodbye to a founding father

Ted Flaxman, ISTT Chairman Emeritus died on 8 December 2020, aged 92, with much
fondness and great respect. Ted (EW) Flaxman, Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, had a distinguished career with Binnie and Partners (now Black and Veatch). As Past President of the Institution of Public Health Engineers, he chaired the organising committee for the first ever No-Dig Conference, the ‘Trenchless Construction for Utilities Conference’,
in 1985. It was an outstanding success, in his concluding address he proposed the formation of ISTT and that another international trenchless event should be held in 1987, the launch of an industry journal and an annual prize for innovation.

With his energetic leadership he made all of these promises happen, ISTT was established in 1986 and Underground Magazine was launched in April of that year. Who could have forecast that in November 2021 we might be holding the 38th International No-Dig Conference in Kuala Lumpur, or that ISTT might grow to almost 4,000 members and operate in 27 countries and that No-Dig Live might become a biennial event attracting an international audience to Peterborough, UK. Ted nurtured his vision for an international trenchless movement creating a Board and an International Council packed with senior engineers and industry administrators from around the world. He served as ISTT Chairman 1986-2003 and as a Guarantor until 2016. His exceptional skills as an engineer were endorsed when in 1988 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineers. In his career he received many accolades including the Kurose Award in 1993 from the Japan
Microtunnelling Association, the ISTT Gold Medal in 1996 and the UKSTTs Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

Ted was passionate about the environment. He made a significant contribution to the debate around the New Roads and Street Works Act successfully inviting politicians and Ministers to participate in discussion with our industry and sharing overseas experience of traffic management practices and the merits of trenchless underground utility works in the urban landscape.

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A much accomplished leader, a visionary and a friend, Ted did much to encourage generations of trenchless technologists. He attended many conference sessions over the years, keeping up with the changes in personnel and technology. He always had thoughtful questions and pertinent comments. Always ready to volunteer, he recently helped ISTT membership Secretary Kyoko Kondo revise the website glossary. He will be remembered for his leadership of ISTT, for his broad interest in the technologies, his diplomacy on the international stage and his warm and sociable nature. Let us also recall his keen wit, his family have shared with us that he liked to joke that his epitaph might be ‘Ted Flaxman, fled taxman’.

Ted was also involved in the formation of the Guild of Water Conservators in 1988, its recognition as a Company in 1994 and its successful petition for Livery in 2000. He served as Master of the Worshipful Company of Water Conservators in 1996 and with Past Master Ted Jackson he published ‘Sweet and Wholesome Water, five centuries of the history of water bearers in the City of London’, a good read and a remarkable piece of scholarship. The Company promotes and spreads awareness of the science, art and practice of water and environmental management and plays an informative role to the Government, the City and the public about the ways that water affects our lives, Ted had great curiosity and an engineer’s attention to detail.

In retirement he relocated to Cottisford, a rural idyll in the Oxfordshire countryside and with Joan, researched the locality made famous by the BBC dramatization of the novel ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’. Realising that the TV series had missed a lot of local history and archaeology they published two very informative volumes, ‘Cottisford Revisited’ and ‘The Real Lark Rise Parish’. Ted and Joan were keen ornithologists and great hosts and gardeners who thoroughly enjoyed Cottisford, welcoming visitors and sharing their enthusiasm for country life. Both Ted and Joan will be greatly missed by their many friends in our industry and around the world.

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Trenchless Works bringing you balanced journalism, accuracy, news and features for all involved in the business of trenchless and no-dig from around the world

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