Re-thinking Site Investigation: Len Threadgold at the ICE

Posted on March 16, 2018
Archive : March 2018
Category : Site Investigation

Len Threadgold (right) alongside Chair of the British Geotechnical Association Martin Preene. 

Geotechnics’ founder and Chairman Len Threadgold spoke at the ICE on 24 January to mark over half a century in ground investigation. His lecture, following his receipt of the John Mitchell Award, focused on the need to re-think site investigation: from architects and engineers to contractors and GI specialists.

With a full house of nearly 300 people and many more watching online, Len reflected on his experience and talked about his ideas for the future of the industry: “At this time, the primary means of unleashing the benefits of good site investigation to the construction industry is by better procurement strategies that seek value, experience and quality rather than lowest differential cost. Site investigations need to be designed and specified by engineers with considerable experience, not delegated to inexperienced junior staff.”

“Those who think that gaining knowledge is expensive should reflect on the cost of ignorance”.


Len has been involved in geotechnical work for over half a century. Following his studies at Liverpool University, civil engineering design in London and site work in Scotland, he joined Cementation’s site investigation department where he learned a lot. He subsequently joined Exploration Associates in the Midlands in 1973, and in 1979 set up his consultancy in geotechnical engineering, becoming involved in numerous projects in the UK and Hong Kong. In 1983 he founded Geotechnics Limited to cover the full spectrum of site investigation and this has grown substantially to become one of the largest independent specialists in the country.

A former chairman of ICE West Midlands, Len is passionate about the contribution which site investigation and geotechnical understanding can bring to projects. He has always been active in the Midland Geotechnical Society and was a founder member of the Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists, convening and subsequently chairing the working party which produced the AGS Format for digital transfer of geotechnical data. This innovation is key to geotechnical design on such major projects as Crossrail and HS2, and celebrated its 25th Anniversary at the AGS conference in Birmingham on 20th September 2017.

ICE members can view a recording of the lecture onlineTo learn more about Geotechnics' site investigation work throughout the UK, please get in touch