Product has been added to the basket

David Nixon Holt, 1924-2005

David Holt, who has died aged 81, came to Imperial College in September 1946 to read Geology; being in a class of seven students reading 'pure' geology, then in the Royal College of Science (not the RSM). It was a mix of ex-service and younger students, the oldest 30 and the youngest barely 18; but we got on well and David, who was 22, fitted in admirably with his quiet and sometimes wicked humour. He failed in the second year - largely due to the diversion of getting married - but came back the next year and graduated with honours in 1950. Like many of us, he joined the Colonial Geological Surveys, being posted to Nyasaland (now Malawi) and for a number of years was occupied with regional mapping, though like all of us, did some applied geology. He developed one of his studies there into a thesis, but though completed and submitted it was unfortunately rejected (something which led to bitterness about certain 'eminents' in later life) . In the late sixties or early seventies he had to find a new career, and consulted Peter Fookes at Imperial College about a career in Engineering Geology. He had a brief spell in India before taking a position, through Peter Fookes's recommendation, with Freeman Fox (Acer), which he held to his retirement.

His early work was on roads in the UK, especially South Wales, but his work rapidly extended to many places overseas and covered bridges, roads and other engineering projects. In the late seventies he became interested in the Engineering Group and became Chairman. This led him to the Council of the Society and a Vice President under Howell Francis, especially concerned with refurbishment of Burlington House, and strongly concerned with the development of the Publishing House (later he was awarded a Coke Medal). He had a strong interest in igneous geology arising from his work in Nyasaland, also in Indonesia and Malaysia, having extended family connections with the latter.

Appreciations have come in to me from many friends and colleagues in the Engineering Geology community. John Charman, Ruth Allington and John Perry note how he helped them as younger 'beginners'. Michael de Freitas remarks how he was meticulous in his work and ever 'gentlemanly'. Martin Culshaw notes his work in St.Helena for which he became a member of the support group in the UK. From the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (formerly DOE), Dave Brook and Brian Marker recall his sterling work on disused mine openings and treatment of formerly mined ground. All note his courteousness and wit, especially as a conference companion, attacking real ale or as an after dinner speaker. He greatly enjoyed the Dining Club and after his wife died a few years ago, after a splendid marriage, I would journey back to 'Metroland' (Watford) with him on the train, stay the night and listen to his many anecdotes and his classical CDs. He left two sons and a daughter, one son a surgeon and another a biologist, as well as much-loved grandchildren. After his wife died he was meticulous in his charitable role of taking some blind people in Watford to their club.

In a time of outstanding students at Imperial College post-WW2 he was one with a disarmingly quiet personality but his subsequent career was one of considerable achievement. I cannot do better that to quote Howell Francis: 'He was a quiet man with a marked sense of humour - a pillar of the Society. We could do with more of his kind'. I shall miss him greatly.

Joe McCall