Bishop and the birth of soil mechanics in England

Published 13 March 2018
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Bishop and the birth of soil mechanics in England

“It was a great privilege and the best of good luck to be associated for nearly 40 years with one of the finest intellects in our subject …. his work in this field brought about a highly beneficial revolution in soil mechanics…….He was loved and respected by his numerous students…… Through them and the strict but friendly criticism of his colleagues’ work, and his own important contributions, he exerted a unique influence.”

These are extracts from Skempton’s tribute to Bishop published in Geotechnique in 1988; they formed part of Bishop’s obituary. This talk gives an account of the “unique” man behind this “unique influence”. While Bishop is best known for his method of slip circle analysis, his contributions to the development of soil mechanics were far wider and of greater importance. The aim of this talk is to describe Professor Bishop’s most significant contributions, and focus on those aspects of his character that motivated and enabled him to make those contributions. The talk is illustrated with numerous photographs and diagrams.

The presenter, Laurie Wesley, gained a PhD under Professor Bishop in 1975 and is currently working on a biography of the Professor.

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