Leighton John Whitworth: 30 December 1960 – 2 May 2016
Leighton John Whitworth, known by all as John, graduated from Teesside Polytechnic in 1983 with a degree in civil engineering.
His working career began with a two year graduate position with Soil Mechanics. In the mid-1980s he gained his MSc in foundation engineering from Birmingham University and joined Ove Arup and Partners spending three years there as a design engineer involved in site investigation and specialist design work.
He then moved back to the contracting world as a senior engineer with Keller where his responsibilities increased, as did his experience, and he was involved with major projects in the UK.
After gaining his MBA in 1991 Whitworth joined Soletanche and this career move saw him working on major UK foundation projects and, eventually, he ran the company’s design office in Paris. This broadened his horizons in the area of foundation engineering and John and Whitworth was involved across the world on major projects in the Middle East, the US and throughout Europe.
He remained in the contracting sector of the foundation industry joining Expanded Piling in the mid-1990s and held the most senior technical position there for two years before a moving to Hong Kong to work with Cementation Gammon on massive foundation projects, including major infrastructure and marine projects, airports and docks.
Moving back to the UK in 1998, Whitworth re-entered the world of consultancy and joined Gibb as a senior engineer. There he was responsible for trouble shooting, design and expert witness work, his broad experience and logical technical approach to analysis and problem solving enabling his reputation as a respected expert in his field to grow.
In 2001 he took the bold step to set up his own consultancy Whitworth Peck Consulting.
Whitworth’s new business secured a major design contract for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link through east London, a prestigious role in a vast civil engineering project. This was the springboard for his consultancy and his client list grew along with his involvement with contractors, engineers and developers carrying out both design and expert witness work.
As a consultant his reputation opened many doors for him and he was engaged in business mainly in the UK, but also in Europe, the Middle East, the US and Africa.
His wide-ranging experience of the commercial, practical and technical aspects of the foundations industry, coupled with his innovative design flair and down to earth communication skills, gave Whitworth a unique quality for which he will be remembered.
Throughout his working life Whitworth published nine papers on geotechnical and piling topics, both solely and in collaboration with peers, which are used today as sources of reference. He also sat on technical publications committees and was a regular invited speaker both in the UK and US.
Whitworth was a chartered engineer with and a reviewer for the Institution of Civil Engineers. He was keen to give something back to his industry in helping the next generation of engineers with their progression.
Whitworth is survived by his children Scarlett and Jake and brother Nigel.
This obituary was written by John Whitworth’s friend and colleague Ross Miller of Ross Miller Piling.