Obituary - Dr Eric Hassall CBE CEng FIMMM FFRICS FGS

Fellows' Lounge
24 Jul 2018

Dr Eric Hassall CBE CEng FIMMM FFRICS FGS 1930-2018

Eric Hassall had a long career in the mining industry, being the youngest ever Area Chief Surveyor and eventually becoming a senior partner of Wardell Amstrong. He was also active in promoting greater understanding of science and engineering in society.

Born in Lancashire of a coal mining family in 1930, Eric started his career at the age of 17 working as an apprentice mine surveyor in the St Helens Area of the newly formed National Coal Board (NCB). He followed a part time course of study for the Mining Qualifications Board Mine Surveyors’ Certificate and his further studies were paralleled by a rise to the position of Area Planning Engineer with the NCB. In 1960, aged 30, he became Area Chief Surveyor for Lancashire, the youngest ever Area Chief Surveyor by 12 years. He joined Ken Wardell and Partners in 1972 to pursue a career as a mining consultant and eventually became a senior partner of Wardell Amstrong.  His contribution was significant and he leaves a lasting legacy.  Under his stewardship, staff numbers grew from 30 to 250 and the company diversified significantly from a minerals and mining base to the range of services offered today. Eric also oversaw the merging of Ken Wardell and Partners with William Armstrong in 1982.

Eric became a member of the Institution of Mining Engineers (IMinE) in 1956 and was made a Fellow in 1965. He served as President of IMinE from 1997-1998 and he was awarded the then Institution of Mining and Metallurgy President’s Medal for Excellence in 2000. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Geological Society and was active within the Worshipful Company of Engineers.

In retirement Eric was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Coal Authority and he was awarded a CBE in 1999.  He was also awarded honorary doctorates from Keele University for Services to Education and Staffs University for Services to Mining. He made major contributions to the interface between academia and industry and was active in promoting greater understanding of science and engineering in society.

He had a pervading interest in geology, being the first chairman of the Wigan and District Geological Society and joined the British Geological Survey Programme Board in 1991. He was appointed its chairman in 1992 and was subsequently also chairman of the British Geological Survey Board. He was also a member of the National Environmental Research Council.

I remember Eric very fondly and as a hard working and driven leader. He was passionate about the business and the people in the business. He had time for everyone and was incredibly adept at getting the best out of people. There is no doubt Wardell Amstrong wouldn’t be the business we are today without him and we are indebted to him for his leadership, vision and passion.

Eric will be greatly missed by those of us who knew him and our thoughts are with Mike and the wider family.  

Mr Keith Mitchell, Managing Director, Wardell Armstrong LLP