Nick Stilwell, Stilwell Partnership’s founder, celebrates 25th anniversary

24 05 2017

In May 2017, Nick Stilwell of the Stilwell Partnership celebrated 25 years in business. The Surrey based practice of consulting engineers has always “punched above its weight”, and over the years has made a major contribution to the disciplines of road safety, transportation, and highway engineering.

NJS Profile pic

Stilwell’s first client proposed a major development on a site in Holmethorpe. The site was locked within a triangle of busy rail lines with highway poor access.  Substantial infrastructure improvements, including a new rail bridge, were required to open the site for much needed housing.

To reduce the construction costs and potentially improve the viability of the development, the Stilwell practice introduced the traditionally risk-averse British Railways to a popular Swedish technique of rapid rail bridge construction.  This bridge construction technique has subsequently been adopted and widely used for many new rail bridges throughout the UK.

The Holmethorpe project was to play a substantial part in the growth and development of the practice.  For the next 20 years, the company progressed the project from Public Inquiry to Planning Consent and then through detailed design and construction, to completion.

Also in the 1990s, the District and Boroughs of Surrey had responsibility for the traffic management, road safety and highway engineering.  To improve efficiency, the Stilwell practice offered to take on their staff and provide a shared engineering resource for these Authorities.  This successful arrangement provided essential engineering services to several Boroughs including Surrey Heath, Elmbridge and also Surrey County Council.

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In this role, the practice wrestled with the worsening problem of traffic congestion and delays at busy or complicated roundabouts.  The conventional approach of building yet more roads or larger junctions was not a sustainable solution.  Therefore, the practice looked at new ways of reducing congestion by guiding motorists through the junction, quickly and safely, from the approach to their exit.

Experimenting with white lining and surfacing, the practice developed the Spiral road markings technique.  Initially trialled at Camberley’s Meadows interchange in 1995, the technique was so successful it was adopted as good design practice by the Department of Transport.

Spiral road markings continue to be used throughout the UK to reduce traffic congestion and improve road safety.  Many road junctions constructed today could not operate efficiently without that pioneering work by the Stilwell practice.

West wales airport

Responding to the requirements of public and private sector clients, the practice offered an increasing number of civil and municipal engineering services.

The practice was appointed civil engineer for the design and supervision of West Wales Airport improvement.  Part funded by the Welsh Parliament, this prepared the airport to become a centre of excellence for the development and operation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, (Drones).

In the summer of 2007, areas of the UK were subjected to the worst flooding for many years.  The Stilwell Partnership produced a strategy for Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, an area severely hit by the floods.  Using CAD systems, historic flood information from different agencies was combined to reveal weak spots in the surface water drainage network.

The practice continues to advise local authorities, developers, and parish councils on the potential impact of Flood Risk and flood alleviation measures.

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Most recently, the practice played a key role designing the highway junction infrastructure for the award-winning Pont Briwet road rail bridge in North Wales.

The Stilwell Partnership continues to make a significant contribution to Road Safety.  Nick Stilwell is a member of the Parliamentary Advisory group on Transport Safety, and the Association of Road Safety Officers.  In 2009, the Association presented the practice with the “Award for Outstanding Contribution”.

The Stilwell Partnership continues to promote good practice by sponsoring the Southern Region of the Institute of Highway Engineers.  In addition, Stilwell Road Safety, a not-for-profit venture, aspires to introduce a culture of Road safety from early school days throughout childhood and older to combat the increasing number of road deaths in the 17-25 age bracket.

The practice has been involved in many high profile and prestigious private and public projects over this 25-year history, and looks forward to meeting the challenges of the future.  In 2016, the Stilwell Partnership merged with a like-minded group of practices, the Patrick Parsons Group.

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