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Our lost Minesmen and Women

It is with great sadness that we have to annouce the passing of our minesmen and women.

Paul Garrard

Paul Garrard, a mining geologist and field work officer who worked in the RSM Geology Department for many years, is no longer with us after a fall whilst walking his dog. He had been living in Cornwall, with his wife Shelagh, since his retirement 10 years ago. Paul was much loved and adored by the students he did teach.

Tim Shaw

Professor Tim Shaw, who died on Friday 21st April at the age of 84, was Emeritus Professor of Mining Engineering, Imperial College London having retired in 2001 after being appointed to the Chair in Mining Engineering at the Royal School of Mines, in 1980. Prior to that he held an academic appointment at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

He entered the academic environment after a successful career in the South African mining industry where he reached the level of Chief Consulting Engineer with the Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Company. Professor Shaw had extensive experience as a technical consultant and company director and held honorary doctorates from two Central European Universities.

The above was written by Dennis Buchanan. Feel free to share any memories of Tim Shaw, by contacting Dennis directly his email is as follows: d.buchanan'at'

Archibald Vivian

Mike "Snagger" Turner

Mike Turner, affectionately known as Snagger, passed away in May after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Aside from his love of family and travel, Mike will be best remembered by contemporaries as a lethal, hard tacking wing forward who captained IC Rugby in 1964-65.

Brought up in Billingham, Mike was a product of Grangefield GS in Stockton. Initially he applied to study Geology at Loughborough University, no doubt lured by its sporting reputation, but having missed an A level exam due to appendicitis, he had to repeat his last school year and instead applied to do mining at the RSM. Loughborough’s loss was Imperial’s gain. He quickly established his reputation at IC on the rugby field with his unremitting physical commitment, and also represented London University. Mike spent four years at RSM graduating in mining and then completing a DIC in Mining Geology. Whist at RSM he met Angela (nee Taylor), a Metallurgy graduate, and after marrying in 1966 they enjoyed a long and happy marriage for over 48 years.

Following college, he commenced working for Hovering Gravels and was subsequently quarry manager at Hoveringham. During this time he played rugby for Nottingham, captaining the 1st XV and also played for Notts/Lincs/Derby.

In 1969 Mike and Angela joined Roan Selection Trust on the Zambian Copperbelt. They spent three years enjoying the sporting life and travelling, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Mike again excelled at rugby and represented the Zambian national side. He captained Chibuluma which included seven IC alumni in the team. To the concentrator metallurgists at Chambishi mine he was known as “Megaton Turner” as a pastime of the miners when blasting in the pit seemed to be who could land a rock the furthest, hopefully onto the metallurgical offices roof! In Zambia Mike suffered a serious neck injury which allegedly brought his rugby career to an end, and which required a cervical fusion operation in Harare. The first of Mike and Angela’s children, David (also an IC graduate), was born in June 1972 in Kitwe on the Copperbelt.

After returning to the UK in 1972, he studied for an MSc in Industrial Management at Loughborough University and then returned to the quarrying industry culminating in a position of Regional Production Manager for Steetley, before its takeover by Redland in 1992. During this time Anne was born (1974), Katie (1976) and Ian (1980). Following Steetley’s takeover, Mike worked as an independent Safety Consultant, being an advisor to a diverse number of companies before retiring in 2004. During these years he remained active in rugby, coaching Middlesbrough and he also became a Yorkshire referee, where his philosophy of “be reasonable, see it my way” must have bemused a few teams. Mike was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2007 which ultimately resulted in him going into Victoria House Care Home in 2014.

Much can be said to celebrate Mike Turner, but old friend from school, Imperial and life, Bill Davison, summed up best at a service to celebrate his life in September, “Mike was a good man - a true, traditional Englishman, both a great family man and a great sportsman. A leader both on and off the field.” An abiding memory of those who played with or against him was his rendering, after a few pints, of the “The Lambton Worm” which confused Londoners, Zambians, Afrikaaners and many more. “Sung” in his best north-eastern accent “Whist lads haad yor gobs” was delivered with gusto.

By all who worked with or for him, Mike was recognised as a good man manager, who maintained a strong respect for all. He and Angela made friends easily and maintained those friendships over many years. His college year had regular reunions in different parts of the world over a fifty year period. His tenacity on the sporting front was matched by a modesty and humbleness off it. Apart from his love of family, sport and travel, he had a thirst for knowledge and developed a keen interest in philosophy, an absorbing subject around which he read widely. He went on to pass A level religious studies as a mature student as part of his interest in a better understanding of life. His own philosophy was to work hard in life, but enjoy every minute of it.

Following his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s in 2007, devastating to all, he continued to live life to the fullest possible and was able to attend all of his children’s weddings and meet all ten of his grandchildren. He remained very active until the last twelve months of his life.

His latter years were comforted by his rock, Angela, who demonstrated an immense strength and dignity in oft difficult times. A true family man, minesman, Chap, sportsman and gentleman, Mike “Snagger” Turner will be sadly missed by all, family and friends.

John O'Reily

Nigel Charles Gravette

Metallurgy 1960-63, Chemical Technology 1964-68(PhD)

“Passion for family, friends and life”

Nigel passed away on 1 November 2014, aged 73, after losing his battle with cancer. “Gravy” as he was affectionately known at college was President of the RSM Union in 1963-64, whilst studying for his PhD, on Corrosion in Royal Navy Boilers, in City and Guilds! He had graduated in Metallurgy at the RSM in 1963. Born in Iver, Buckinghamshire he was schooled at the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe and came to IC along with two school friends, Mike (Slim) Coward (RSM) and David (Ghosty) Craft (Physics).

Whilst at college, Nigel was involved in many memorable incidents. A keen caver, he together with pal, John (Ben) Goode did their own version of Prince Consort Road caving. At around 1am they pried open a manhole cover outside the RSM entrance and disappeared into the bowels of the earth. They sloshed their way to a major tunnel system at Queens Gate, exploring to North and South, returning to the RSM a couple of hours later. Back on surface they headed to Beit for a clean up and refreshment. Nigel found some potassium permanganate to pitch into the bath water as a disinfectant, resulting in fine suntans as a by-product of nocturnal caving.

Unusually for that era, Nigel had a car during his time at RSM, a 1935 Ford. At one time he showed his scientific flair and had the petrol tank tied onto the roof with a gravity feed into the carburettor. Once after a heated discussion on the relative merits of their cars, he left “Ben” with severely damaged pride after a race down Prince Consort Road, from the starting grid of Exhibition Road to the chequered flag of Queens Gate, thoroughly outpacing Ben’s sporty looking but thoroughly clapped out 1928 MG “M”.

He was a member of the London University Air Squadron, got his colours for rowing at RSM and was a member of the Chaps Club.

In 1968 after completing his PhD, he and young family headed off to the Zambian Copperbelt where he worked for Anglo American on the Rhokana smelter and cobalt plants. In 1972 he gave up metallurgy to go farming in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe where he stayed until 1989. After returning to the UK, from Zimbabwe, he worked as Quality Manager for Doig Springs in Maidenhead until his retirement in 2008.

First and foremost Nigel was a family man having married Pat, his wife of 52 years, in 1962, whilst at RSM. He was fiercely passionate and caring about his family and is survived by Pat, three sons, an adopted daughter and eight grandchildren, who all miss him tremendously. Wherever he went he collected friends with whom he always made an effort to maintain contact.

Aside from his family, Nigel had many passions and accomplishments. He had a flair for acting and for the last 24 years was a member of Buckinghamshire’s Richings Players. Even whilst in the Zimbabwe bush he continued to bring a touch of culture to the rough and tough farming community. He was always singing and lived his passion as a member of the successful Royal Harmonics since 2005, and had been awarded the Royal Harmonics, “man of the year”. He relished his time with this marvellous group of gentlemen who were also a great support to him during his various treatments. Neither did he lose his love for toiling the soil, after return from Africa, and loved pottering in his allotment producing kilos of fresh produce, giving Pat much food for thought. His thirst for knowledge saw him involved in the University of the 3rd Age. Here he found a wonderful mixture of academic research that he could combine with his flair for dramatics which made his lectures particularly popular. Up to the time he died he was working on a planned lecture about Earth, “The Goldilocks Planet – not too hot, not too cold, just right!”

At his funeral, son Rod said “Nigel Gravette was a man who loved life and loved those who shared it with him. Never seeking the limelight or to be the rock star but was always the rock that you could rely or depend on”. A tremendously apt description.

Nigel was one of those characters who seldom come around. A great family man, great minesman a friend to many, multi talented, he will be sorely missed.

In memory of Ian Chaston

It is with sadness that we announce the recent sudden passing of Ian Chaston, aged 82. Ian attended RSM from 1951 to 1955 and was a strong supporter of both the college and the RSMA, regularly attending the Association events as well as the mining sundowners in the City. Our sincere condolences go to his family.