a revolving animation of the lapworth medal

All former students of Engineering Geology at Imperial (BSc, MSc, DIC, MPhil or PhD) are automatically members of the Herbert Lapworth Club.
If you had forgotten that and wish to make contact with the Club, please email Dr de Freitas.

The Herbert Lapworth Club was founded in 1970 for the benefit of former students of Engineering Geology. The Lapworth Medal, shown above, is funded by donations from the members of the Herbert Lapworth Club presented by the Club to the College, to be and awarded annually to a meritorious student of Engineering Geology, on completion of the MSc course.

Lapworth Club LogoMembers meet on Friday 13th : the London venue is the Admiral Codrington, in Mossop Street, about 5 minutes walk from South Kensington Station. Map of Location.

Dr Herbert Lapworth

Herbert Lapworth was the youngest son of Professor Charles Lapworth. He graduated in Engineering at Birmingham University and spent the greater part of his professional career as a practising engineer, involved mainly with construction for the water supply industry and the building of dams. Work on site enabled him to develop the keen interest in geology he inherited from his father and make original and valuable contributions to palaeontology and stratigraphy. It is interesting to note, in these days of specialization, that Lapworth, as an engineer, led field meetings for the Geologists’ Association, received the Murchison Award from the Geological Society and later became Secretary for that Society. His interest in geology, coupled with his experience as an engineer, placed him in considerable demand as a lecturer to both learned societies and universities. He delivered lectures in Engineering Geology at Liverpool University and at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, where his lectures gained him the award of the Telford Gold Medal.

A signed photograph of Herbert LapworthHis course of lectures was remarkable, and clearly reflected the wide range of activities on which he was advising as an engineer. The College calendar for 1910-11 records it as follows:- "Geological graphics (methods of geological mapping for engineering problems). The geology of water supply .... The geology of lines of transport (roads, railways, canals, aqueducts, etc.). Quarrying .... the geology of building materials .... including concrete .... Effects of shifting of material .... mines, erosion (i.e. landslides), earthquakes etc. .... Geology of soils and subsoils ...."

By 1910 Herbert Lapworth had started his own private practice and had commenced giving an annual series of lectures at the RSM; this teaching continued until 1922. In those days a four year period of study was required for Associateship of the RSM, and the fourth year was for the specialised study of a subject covered in the third year. One of the special subjects was a 40 lecture course (with laboratory work) in Economic Geology (Price £ 3.00): 20 lectures in Mining Geology and 20 in Engineering Geology; Lapworth taught the latter. Lapworth became a close friend of the then Professor of Geology at Imperial, Professor Watts, who was a frequent visitor to his home and accompany him on his many walks across the Chalk Downs.

In 1927 Lapworth was elected President of the Institution of Water Engineers and such was his eminence that in 1934, a year after his death, a sum of money was donated to the Institution by another of its former Presidents to constitute "the Herbert Lapworth Memorial Fund". From this fund a Herbert Lapworth Medal would be made and presented .... 'no more often than in alternate years'. One of the few recipients of this medal was W.J.E. Binnie, founder of the famous firm of consulting engineers, Binnie and Partners. That medal, which is illustrated here, later led to the Department obtaining use of the Institution's dies for making our own Lapworth medal. But this required money, many hundreds of pounds. Here the support of the Herbert Lapworth Club was sought. The appeal was launched and within a year sufficient donations had been received from former students of Engineering Geology, now employed around the world, to permit the new reverse die to be commissioned. The early stages of the appeal were greatly helped by generous donations from the Lapworth family and eminent engineers who were closely associated with Herbert Lapworth. Their gifts provided the appeal with the momentum it needed to succeed.

With money in the bank, a proposal could be put before the College Board of Studies that there be established in the Department. "The Lapworth Medal, normally for annual award to a meritorious student on completion the Advanced Course in Engineering Geology." The recommendation was approved in June 1981 and the medal became available in time for the academic year 1981 - 82. Nominations for the medal came from the MSc Board of Examiners in Engineering Geology, and there lay another curious link with the past; the Visiting Examiner to the Board that provided the nomination for the first medal was Mr. M. Kennard, a Partner of the firm consulting engineers; Rofe, Kennard and Lapworth.