Douglas Simpson CEng FIMMM (Obit)

Fellows' Lounge
1 Feb 2009
Douglas Simpson

Douglas Simpson CEng FIMMM was educated in Sri Lanka and England and gained an honours degree in Mining at University College, Cardiff. It was there that he met his wife Tarzi after both became active in the Dramatic Society, and they were arried for 65 years until her death last year.

Career history

Douglas started his coal mining career in South Wales as a junior official underground, and then as under-manager after gaining his 1st class Colliery Manager’s certificate. Following nationalisation of the UK’s coal mines, he became manager of Abercynan Colliery at the age of 26.

He was later Mining Engineer in charge of the new sinking of Abernant Colliery and Deputy Area Manager responsible for planning and developing the Rhondda Valley area. Douglas had many fond memories of his work in South Wales and those that he worked with.

Douglas and Tarzi had three children and in the early 1960s the family moved to Horley, Surrey, following his promotion to the National Coal Board (NCB) headquarters in London. He made many trips abroad to consult on mining techniques, including to Canada, Poland, South Africa and Switzerland.

In 1976, he saw the shafts at the US atomic bomb testing site in Nevada. Two years later he delivered a paper on ‘Recovery of Hydrocarbons and Coal in the UK’ to the World Energy Conference in Istanbul. He was among one of the first British delegations to visit Communist China to sell British equipment and expertise. He ended his mining career as Chief Major Projects Engineer at the NCB, retiring in 1984.


Support for the industry outsite of employment

Douglas was an active member of the former Institution of Mining Engineers and became its President in 1983. He was a founder member of the Worshipful Company of Engineers in the City of London and was made a Freeman of the City shortly afterwards.

He took an interest in the training of young engineers, chairing the Mining Advisory Committee of City & Guilds and sitting on the committee of the Technician Education Council. In 1980 he gave a Faraday lecture, with explosions, to interest younger people in mining.


Interest in politics and conservation

Not long after the move to Horley, Douglas and Tarzi became interested in politics. They were both involved in the local Conservative Party and Douglas was a Surrey County Councillor from 1987-93, including a period as Chairman of the Highways Committee.

He started the Meath Green Protection Society in 1975 because he felt the area of Horley needed to preserve its identity. He chaired the society for 33 years and continued working for Meath Green until a week before his death. In 2006, he was awarded the Council for the Protection of Rural England countryside medal for services to the community. His desire to preserve the green belt extended beyond Meath Green – he was Vice-Chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign.

He was a member of the Reigate and District Crime Prevention Panel for many years. In 2004, Douglas was presented a certificate of commendation on behalf of the people of Horley for outstanding service to the community.