My friend and colleague Colin Ledsome, who has died aged 79, was an engineering designer, an educationist and a sharer of knowledge.
Born in Birkenhead, Colin went to Wirral grammar school and studied civil engineering at the University of Liverpool where, in 1964, he designed and helped build the stage for the newly conceived Everyman Theatre.
After university, Colin worked at Hawker Siddeley on the final stages of the Blue Streak satellite launch vehicle, his first foray into aerospace design. He left there to study for a master’s in engineering from 1965 until 1967 at the University of Liverpool, researching the structure of toroidal spacecraft fuel tanks, on completion of which he moved to the US to work for a Nasa contractor on the design of the Apollo Skylab. On one occasion there, on entering a roadside diner, declaring himself a vegetarian and asking what he could get, he was told by a waitress: “Out of Alabama!”
On completion of the Skylab project in 1970, Colin moved back to the UK and took a role as a design engineer for British Rail in Derby, working on the design of the Advanced Passenger Train. This design pioneered the concept of active tilting to address curved train lines, a feature that has since been copied around the world.
Colin moved from industry into education, first working for the Design Council from 1980 until 1994. There, he focused on improving the design content of engineering education and training, initiating a project with the Engineering Council that led to the report Attaining Competence in Engineering Design, which set the parameters for the design content of chartered engineering-level qualifications. In 1996, he went to Imperial College London, where he fostered and developed students’ industrial placements and taught, led and managed final-year projects.
In retirement, Colin worked with the British Standards Institute, focusing on design for the manufacture, assembly, disassembly and end of life of products. He was also active as a fellow and past chair of the Institution of Engineering Designers, where he and I worked together for 19 years, as a volunteer at the Science Museum, an external examiner on university design courses and a residential tutor on Open University courses, in addition to being an accomplished archer and qualified archery coach.
His friends will remember him for his expertise and enthusiasm and the joy he found in engineering.