Obituary - John Keys, 1962 - 2013


John Keys, 1962 - 2013
John Keys 1962 - 2013

John Keys
1962 - 2013

Colleagues working abroad will be saddened to know that, although only 51, John Keys of London Bridge Associates in the UK, suffered a fatal heart attack while travelling on the London Underground on Monday 14 January, 2013.
He was well known among the tunnelling community in the UK, having worked on several major projects, including the Channel Tunnel on the UK side and the Storebaelt undersea railway tunnel in Denmark, as well as being a regular at the British Tunnelling Society (BTS) meetings and contributing to many of its training courses and technical reports.
After graduating with a Mining Engineering degree from the Camborne School of Mines in 1982, Keys started his career with Thyssen GB, sinking shafts for the UK National Coal Board in Scotland and Yorkshire before moving into tunnelling on the Three Valleys water supply tunnel contract to the west of London. He gained a varied experience of civil tunnelling on this project including working with wedgeblock linings, sinking large and small diameter shafts, working in compressed air, and the application of ground freezing using liquid nitrogen.
Next he worked on construction of the 220m deep x 3.85m diameter Betws shaft using the largest land-based drilling rig in Europe at the time, which employed reverse circulation and blind shaft drilling technology.
In 1986 Keys moved to Barrow-on-Soar where the task was construction of parallel access drifts through water bearing shales for a British Gypsum mine. Believed to be the first use of NATM in the UK, this set Keys on an interest he was to follow throughout his career.
NATM cavern of the UK Channel Tunnel crossover

NATM cavern of the UK Channel Tunnel crossover

Working for TML (Transmanche Link) on the Channel Tunnel, his interest in NATM flourished with its extensive application in the underground development works at Shakespeare Cliff and for excavation of the UK undersea crossover cavern.
Following a period with MT Group on the difficult Storebaelt Tunnel in Denmark, Keys joined Taylor Woodrow and the Costain/Taylor Woodrow JV in 1993 on the London Bridge Station Contract 104 on the Jubilee Line Extension. Keys again gravitated towards the NATM works involved (which were to become known as SCL (sprayed concrete lining) works over the course of the contract) and also to the impressive cast iron segmental lining work installed in the Jubilee Line station.
When appointed Project Manager on the Ramsgate Harbour Approach Road in the south of England, Keys further demonstrated his impatience to learn of new techniques and brought in the Perforex prevaulting system for its first application in the UK.
In 2000, when London Bridge Associates (LBA) was formed, Keys was a founder member and a major shareholder, becoming in recent years a Director.
"He brought a tremendous breadth of experience and knowledge," reflected his colleagues at LBA. "He made major contributions for us to projects including the Dublin Port Tunnel, project tenders for us, including for the A303 Stonehenge and A3 Hindhead highway tunnels, the Shepherds Bush Station in London, the Strood Tunnel Refurbishment, and the upgrades of London Underground stations at Kings Cross, Tottenham Court Road, and Bond Street. Recently he had major input into the design, and led the construction planning, for the London Underground Victoria Station Upgrade with the project designer."
Keys was a regular contributor on BTS courses, speaking and running exercises in risk identification, and managed the Risk Management section of the Construction Management module of the MSc course in tunnelling at Warwick University. He contributed to the sub-group of the BS 6164 update and was a peer reviewer for the BTS reports by the SCL Best Practice Working Group and the Nitrogen Oxide Working Group.
John is remembered as a husband and father by his wife Alison, and sons James and Matthew, of whom he was very proud, and by the BTS and his LBA colleagues who will miss his contribution and thirst for knowledge and learning. He was always ready with a glad welcome for anyone he met.
Channel Tunnel - 20 years on - TunnelTalk, December 2010
BS 6164 - Revised Edition - TunnelTalk, Books & Reports
Occupational Exposure to Nitrogen Monoxide in a Tunnel
Environment - BTS Best Practice Guide
- TunnelTalk, Books & Reports
UK MSc course for masters in tunnelling - TunnelTalk, July 2011


Add your comment