Bryan Skipp Obituary | Engineering
My stepfather, Bryan Skipp, who died at the age of 92, was a mining and civil engineer who led a colorful life. Although a communist and a long-time member of the CND, he has worked on many sensitive international nuclear projects. He was also an expert in soil science, an academic and a bon vivant.
Born in Bolton, Lancashire, to Sydney Skipp, a model maker, and his wife, Hilda, Bryan attended Bolton Boys School. His parents, both Methodists, wanted him to enter the ministry, but he quickly declared himself an atheist.
Instead of doing his national service, Bryan spent several years as a miner in Cannock, Staffordshire, then studied mining engineering at the University of Birmingham, from which he graduated in 1953. It was a landmark period of his life. While in Birmingham, George Derwent Thomson, then a professor there, guided Bryan into communism.
After graduating, he went to Paris, where he obtained a doctorate from the Ecole des Mines. He became a member of the Geological Society in 1956, at the age of 26.
After his doctorate, Bryan began a lifetime job with the engineering firm Soil Mechanics, which is part of the Mowlem organization. He became an international authority on soil science, but was also involved in civil engineering projects, such as the demolition of power plants. He has published over 70 articles in academic journals and has been a guest lecturer and examiner at Imperial College London for over 30 years.
In the 1960s, Bryan got married and divorced. A child of her marriage, Gerrard, died of a mishap at the age of 14. In 1970 he met my mother, Maria Tsaneva, at an engineering conference in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. They got married in 1972 and we all moved to London. I was 15 at the time.
Bryan made sure we fit in with the British way of life – Indian cuisine, Royal Society of Arts debates, loud street politics and sailing in his boat, Cyranka. We all got involved in the British-Bulgarian Society and Bryan was a dedicated member. Although lavish and frequent entertainers, Bryan and Maria never had a car and we lived in a small apartment in Brixton.
He also got started in South London life, volunteering at the Angell Road Adventure Playground, the Gresham Center Youth Club and for the Lambeth Council for Community Relations.
His career flourished while his communist principles never wavered. On occasion, when Bryan was the only person in a position with the necessary skills and expertise, he proclaimed his policy loud and clear lest someone later point an accusing finger at him for collecting evidence. secrets while being a communist and CND-er. Thus, he worked on nuclear power plant sites, nuclear submarine berths and nuclear waste disposal.
Bryan retired at the end of 1994, but continued to work as a consultant for 15 years. In the late 1990s, he was part of an international multidisciplinary delegation that inspected the “sarcophagus” of the crumbling Chernobyl power station and advised the construction of a new protective shell. In the early 2000s, he participated in the development of an international standard on earthquake-resistant structures, under the aegis of the British Standards Institution.
Maria passed away in 2015. He is survived.