About Alan Ingham

Alan Ingham (1932-2002) was a remarkably versatile and considerate individual without whom The Hydrographic Society UK & Ireland would not exist.  He thought of himself as no more than a simple former sailor and self-taught artist.  But his enduring legacy will not be readily forgotten by those who had the good fortune to know and work with him and it is for that reason that this award recognising outstanding endeavour and achievement is named in his memory.

Alan enlisted at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth at the tender age of 13 and thus began a 19-year naval career.  Having progressed to the Royal Navy proper in 1950, he joined the Surveying Service in 1956.  There he saw service in domestic waters and on numerous postings in the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions, including an exchange with the Royal New Zealand Navy from 1960-61.

Retiring from the navy in the latter half of the 1960s, Alan was attracted to the educational world and the opportunity to lecture on Hydrographic Surveying at Waltham Forest Technical College (later to become North East London Polytechnic in 1970, and now the University of East London).  He progressively established his academic credentials by not only boosting student intake for a subject previously untaught outside the Royal Navy but also with authorship of two seminal books, Hydrography for the Surveyor and Engineer (1974) and Sea Surveying (1975) – both remain required reading for aspiring students of hydrography and associated disciplines.

Alan was always inclined to the extra-curricular.  He immersed himself in the wider professional aspects of hydrography, presenting papers on educational issues at home and overseas as well as active membership of the RICS’s Education and Hydrographic Surveyors’ committees.  In 1971 he was elected Chairman of FIG’s Working Group charged with establishing internationally-recognised standards of competence for hydrographic surveyors, the precursor to the current FIG-IHO-ICA International Board on Standards of Competence for Hydrographic Surveyors and Nautical Cartographers.

Reconciling the needs of training and education with those of the offshore engineering and port industries became a raison d’être for Alan and ultimately led to the inauguration of The Hydrographic Society on 24 March 1972.  Alan was the driving-force behind the fledgling enterprise staffed by a select band of unpaid fellow-enthusiasts (including his wife, Rose) and remained its Honorary Secretary until his retirement from academia in 1984.  He was subsequently elected its first Emeritus Member in recognition of his selfless devotion to the ‘Cause’.

Alan had also another lifelong passion, one which brought him immense contentment and, thanks to his remarkable talent, even greater fame: art.  He mainly, but not exclusively, painted the English countryside with finesse and a cartographic eye for detail.  In the mid-1980s he was acknowledged as one of Britain’s leading landscape artists with well over 1,200 original works and countless prints to be found in private and institutional collections worldwide.  Many of these works are reproduced in Under a Watercolour Sky (1996).  A selection of Alan’s illustrations also featured on the back covers of early issues of The Hydrographic Journal (Vol. 1 & 2).

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