Jemima Atkinson is the great-granddaughter of Professor Henry Robinson (1837–1915), a King’s engineering alumnus who was known by his family as Herbert. She recalls hearing about the proud moment when Herbert started work on Tower Bridge, explaining: ‘It was an exciting and ground-breaking project to work on at the time, which would connect one side of London to the other. His team were given a picture of the bridge and told to make it work, so it’s a good job they were fixated on solving problems.’
During Herbert’s career, he worked on many important projects, including railways, water supply, sewerage and electric lighting. He became Professor of Civil Engineering at King’s in 1880 and was an expert on hydraulics and sewerage, contributing to academic literature on these subjects.
This passion for engineering continued to run in the family, as Herbert’s daughter, Irene, went on to marry another King’s engineering alumnus called Arthur Bartlett, who was taught by Herbert.
Jemima remembers her grandfather Arthur working on the engineering of London Underground’s Bakerloo line, proffering: ‘I think Henry and Arthur would have been over the moon with the new Crossrail, which will, like Tower Bridge, help further connect our capital city.’
Jemima now has four grandchildren, whom she has taken on trips to visit Tower Bridge. They all have enjoyed exploring the viewing gallery, including her nine-year-old grandson who already aspires to be an actor rather than an engineer. ‘I’m sad that no one else in the family has gone on to study engineering, but I’ve told my grandchildren that they can do whatever they choose,’ Jemima reflects. ‘And if the girls do decide they want to become engineers, it’s great that they are able to do so now. It’s not just for boys!’
With Jemima’s generous legacy, more young people out there will be supported to study engineering at King’s, and some may well be part of the world’s future innovative engineering projects. She says: ‘I am pleased to leave a legacy to King’s, as it’s the least that I can do to support the next generation of engineers.’