Thomas Ignatius King CEng FIMMM (Obit)
Thomas Ignatius King CEng FIMMM died suddenly on 13 June 2009, one month short of his 80th birthday.
Born in Dublin, he grew up with his family in Oldham, Lancashire, attending Corpus Christi School and Oldham Technology College. At 16 he left school and started general office work at Moston Colliery, Manchester, before being awarded a National Coal Board (NCB) scholarship to gain a BSc in Mining Engineering from Durham University.
A successful early career
He graduated in 1951 and the following year obtained his Colliery Manager’s Certificate. He worked at Bradford and Mosley Common Collieries as a junior official, before moving to the No 5 Area, East Midlands, as a mechanisation engineer.
Having become a Chartered Engineer, he was appointed at age 27 General Manager of Baddesley Mine, Warwickshire. At the time he was the UK’s youngest NCB colliery manager.
He successfully managed Coventry Colliery and Daw Mill, both in Warkwickshire, until 1976 when he became Chief Tunnelling Engineer at the NCB headquarters in Doncaster. The 1970s were exciting times for the company and Tom was in the thick of them. He was responsible for promoting mechanisation, in particular the use of road headers and tunnel machines. At the time of his retirement in 1985 he was Head of Engineering (R&D) Division. He continued to undertake private consultancy work within the mining industry.
Tom’s CV is long and impressive and his work involved organising conferences and presenting scientific papers in the UK and overseas. He was responsible for introducing innovative management techniques and was considered a ‘tracksuit’ manager, being approachable, motivational and a genuine leader.
Interaction with the Institute
He joined the former Institution of Mining Engineers (IMinE) in 1947, and in 1963 he was elected a Fellow. He held the position of Past-President of its South Staffs & South Midlands Branch. He was a Member of the British Tunnelling Society (BTS) and a longstanding part of its Editorial Board for the magazine Tunnels & Tunnelling.
He continued to be involved right up to his death. He was the Society’s main linkman with the coal mining industry. He regularly attended meetings of the Editorial Advisory Board where his expertise and knowledge of the mining industry was of inestimable value, particularly when coal mining still flourished in Britain. His down to earth comments on mining and underground construction were much valued.
As well as his professional career, Tom was active with a number of charitable organisations and was proud to be a Knight of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. He was an energetic, kind and humorous man and will be sadly missed by all, particularly by Joyce, his loving wife for 55 years, his children Paul, Jonathan and Helen, and their families.