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HTS Annual Trip 2023 to Bristol

Written by Civil Engineers, Louise Bénard and Ted Mullins.

HTS had its annual trip last Friday with around 120 people joining across all teams and offices. After an early start to catch the 7:30 am train from Paddington, we arrived in Bristol around 9 am where we met with the 25 brave cyclists that had left London the night before.

The plan for the trip was to do two visits - the vaults of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the GKN Factory – and to finish with a nice dinner overlooking the canal.

The visit to the GKN Aerospace Factory gave us an insight into a completely different field to Structural and Civil engineering. After gearing up with construction boots and goggles, we got shown around the facilities where they built various parts for aeroplanes and flying taxis. It was really interesting to hear how much they were investing in research and striving to use the latest technology in their processes. On a different scale, this is similar to the objectives of the research done by HTS+ and the inclusion of the latest software in the engineering practice at HTS. It was also insightful to hear about the many collaborations GKN have with other players in the aerospace industry and how the success of their projects was dependent on the ongoing communication between stakeholders.

Part of the day involved a guided tour of two of the twelve hidden vaults of Clifton Suspension Bridge. Having never been inside the foundations of a bridge (not something that many people can say), we were surprised by its vast emptiness and cool, damp interior. Almost as much to a surprise as the people who accidently discovered the vaults in 2002, since Brunel’s plans for the construction of the bridge were lost. Comparatively to many aspects of moderN-day engineering, the vaults revealed elements of overdesign and consideration of the design life, with the suspension bridge still structurally sound, despite the erosion of its wall ties. Another modern-day parallel is the Brunel’s decision to reuse of material to construct parts of the bridge, a key initiative that is the cornerstone of the identity of HTS.

The yearly trip is a well-established HTS tradition, and many people know to look forward to it – and that includes all new joiners! It was a really good opportunity for people who had joined after the trip last year to meet colleagues from different teams and offices in this context. There were lots of opportunities to mingle across teams, be it during the activities in smaller groups or at dinner.


Ted has been at HTS for 5 months as  Civil Engineer, whereas Louise joined the week of the trip.

"It was nice to come back to the office to more familiar faces." - Louise