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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sir Owen Williams - Engineering Legend

The London to Birmingham Motorway Presentation Book by L.T.C. Rolt

The London to Birmingham Motorway Presentation Book 
Sir Owen Williams
Sir Owen looking down from the motorway bridge
A view of Dunstable and Luton divided by the new M1
I was going to post about Sir Owen Williams yesterday, but then I got side-tracked by the pretty Hugh Lofting  end-papers and in the meantime we’ve sold this book.  However, I think it’s still worth a mention.  We came across this book in a lot we bought recently – it is the presentation copy of Sir Owen Williams, who was one of Britain’s motorway pioneers. It was published to mark the opening of the South of Luton-Dunchurch-Crick Section of the London to Birmingham Motorway (the M1.)  Sir Owen Williams (no relation sadly) was an engineer and architect, and as well as being the chief engineer on the first phase of the M1, he was the chief consulting engineer of the original Wembley Stadium and  also the principle engineer for Spaghetti Junction on the M6.  So it seems he led quite an eventful life – which always interests me. 
Christmas Cards & the List of Signatures
I liked this book particularly because it had some local pictures of Dunstable taken during the construction of the Motorway – which feels quite relevant to us at the moment as the new A5 bypass has just opened.   Every Radio 2 listener in the country has heard of Dunstable because   we are the main diversion route  when the M1  is closed and we quite often get mentioned by Sally Traffic.

This presentation copy was presented to O.T. Williams in 1959  –his name was embossed on the front cover in gilt and it was signed by numerous members of the project including Williams himself. The book also included  two 1959 Christmas Cards marking the opening of the Southern Section. 

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