Peter Lewis obituary | Engineering


My father, Peter Lewis, who has died aged 76 of most cancers, was a forensic engineer, Open College lecturer, skilled witness and creator. His investigations into product failures contributed to safer designs for various home items, manufacturing merchandise and medical units.

He was born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, son of Rhys Lewis, a former coal miner who grew to become a university historical past lecturer, and his spouse, Louise (nee Jorgensen), who was a secretary for a writer. After finishing his education on the Forest grammar college in Winnersh, Berkshire, Peter went to the College of Manchester in 1963 to check chemistry, and stayed there to finish his PhD.

An curiosity in Roman mining methods led him to collaborate with the archaeologist Barri Jones and collectively they undertook in depth survey work on Roman gold mines in Spain (Las Médulas) and Wales (Dolaucothi). Their excavations and analysis reworked the information about these websites and proceed to tell students right now.

Within the early Seventies Peter performed postdoctoral work within the US, at DuPont experimentation centre in Delaware, earlier than returning to Manchester College to lecture in polymer science within the division of metallurgy. Shortly afterwards he moved to work on the new Open College campus in Milton Keynes, the place he remained for the remainder of his profession.

Peter additionally pursued a parallel profession in forensic engineering, performing as an skilled witness in authorized disputes involving product failures, usually the place critical damage had occurred. He would set up the reason for the failure and relished the chance to be cross-examined. Amongst many others, he investigated materials failures in batteries, gasoline pipes, scorching water bottles, step-ladders, Stanley knives, breast implants, catheters, respiratory tubes and sutures. His contributions on this discipline helped to scale back malpractice in design and manufacturing, thus enhancing security for customers.

He later centered on steel fatigue in forged iron constructions and wrote three books on railway disasters and bridge collapse. He performed a radical reinvestigation of the Tay Bridge catastrophe of 1879. Utilizing digital expertise to reexamine unique images of the bridge, he discovered that steel fatigue had performed a big position within the collapse. He went on to research the Dee Bridge catastrophe of 1847 and the railway accident at Shipton-on-Cherwell in 1874.

He by no means retired, however he discovered nice enjoyment as a grandad in his later years. He beloved the outside and was a really eager gardener and forager – significantly wild mushrooms and sloes. He beloved hill strolling and mountaineering, and was a lifelong fanatic of classical music. His home was stuffed with books and he learn broadly on historical past, politics, artwork, science and archaeology.

Peter is survived by his 4 youngsters, Patrick, David, Roger and me, from his marriage to Shelagh (nee Grealey), which led to divorce, and by his six grandchildren.



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