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Adam’s worldwide concrete reputation gets him Royal Academy medal

PUBLISHED: 18:54 20 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:48 05 October 2010

THE man who wrote the Concrete Bible’ which has sold half-a-million copies around the world has been awarded a prestigious medal by the Royal Academy of Engineering. Dr Adam Neville, one time engineering student in London’s East End, now respected worldwide for his expertise on concrete structures, received the Sustained Achievement medal after 60 years in engineering research and practice

Mike Brooke

THE man who wrote the Concrete Bible’ which has sold half-a-million copies around the world has been awarded a prestigious medal by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Dr Adam Neville, one time engineering student in London’s East End, now respected worldwide for his expertise on concrete structures, received the academy’s Sustained Achievement medal this week after nearly 60 years in research and practice in engineering.

“My work has given me a chance to make friends the world over,” he said. “That has been the greatest side effect’ of my life in concrete.”

Dr Neville, now 85 and living by the Thames at Wapping, was born in Poland in 1923. He escaped the German occupation after war broke out in 1939—only to be captured during the Soviet invasion from the East.

He endured prison and labour camp in the Arctic until he managed to make his way alone across Russia in 1942 to join the Polish Free Forces under British command in Persia.

He settled in Britain after the war and went on to study engineering at the University of London’s Queen Mary College at Mile End in East London.

His research on concrete is world renowned. His first book, Properties of Concrete published in 1963, has been translated into 13 languages and has sold 500,000 copies.

The book is known in many parts of the world as Neville’s concrete bible.’ He has penned 10 books and 250 technical papers in all.

But Dr Neville’s work has also had a profound influence on engineering in practice.

His paper in 1963 into behaviour’ of high alumina cement concrete concluded that British weather conditions meant the material was likely to become unsafe after 10 to 20 years.

The paper provoked furious reaction from manufacturers of pre-cast concrete, while cement manufacturers weren’t too happy with his findings either.

Some years later, however, three major roof collapses in London vindicated his findings and Dr Neville was invited to serve on the Buildings Regulations Advisory committee.

He took early retirement in 1987, after qualifying as an arbitrator, and has been much in demand in legal cases involving high profile projects ever since.

But it’s not all work and no play’ for the East End’s concrete boffin’ now enjoying retirement at his waterfront home fine minutes’ walk from the Tower of London.

He learned to ski at the age of five in the Carpathian hills of his native Poland and continued the sport for 75 years—until his eighties.


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