Donald Bailey (civil engineer)

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Sir Donald Coleman Bailey
File:D C Bailey- Designer of the Bailey Bridge, UK, 1944 D23537.jpg
Born (1901-09-15)15 September 1901
Rotherham, Yorkshire, England
Died 5 May 1985(1985-05-05) (aged 83)
Bournemouth, Dorset, England
Nationality English
Occupation Civil Engineer
Known for Bailey Bridge

Sir Donald Coleman Bailey, OBE (15 September 1901 – 5 May 1985) was an English civil engineer who invented the Bailey bridge. Field Marshal Montgomery is recorded as saying that without the Bailey bridge, we should not have won the war.


Bailey attended Rotherham Grammar School and The Leys School in Cambridge and then studied for a period at Sheffield University.

Bailey was a civil servant in the War Office when he designed his bridge. Another engineer, A.M. Hamilton, successfully demonstrated that the Bailey bridge breached a patent on the Callender-Hamilton bridge, though the Bailey bridge was generally regarded as being superior for temporary use.

Bailey was knighted in 1946 for his bridge design. By this time he was living quietly in Southbourne in Bournemouth. Dorothy Barnes, one of the girls at the Southbourne Crossroads bank, which he used regularly was surprised to learn that her unassuming customer had been knighted. Sir Donald died in Bournemouth in 1985. His 1940s home was demolished c 2004 and replaced by flats, although he also had other addresses in Bournemouth, being recorded in 1974 at 14 Viking Close, as Bailey, Sir Donald C. OBE, JP. The house in which Bailey was born, 24 Albany Street, Rotherham is still standing.

During the Second World War, there was a factory making the components for the Bailey Bridge in the neighbouring town of Christchurch, where a section of bridge still remains, at a retail park in Barrack Road. The components were shipped to training grounds in Cumbria, where men learned the difficult technique of assembling them in rivers at night, to simulate combat conditions. There is, as yet, no blue plaque in Bournemouth to commemorate Sir Donald.

Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery wrote in 1947:

Bailey Bridging made an immense contribution towards ending World War II. As far as my own operations were concerned, with the eighth Army in Italy and with the 21 Army Group in North West Europe, I could never have maintained the speed and tempo of forward movement without large supplies of Bailey Bridging.[1][2][3]

Honours and awards


  1. "Bailey Bridge". Mabey Bridge and Shore,. Archived from the original on 200-06-15. Retrieved 2011-09-11. Check date values in: |archivedate= (help)CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Other Equipment Used By The 7th Armoured Division". Archived from the original on August 13, 2010. Retrieved 2011-09-11. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Lance Day, Ian McNeil, ed. (1996). Biographical Dictionary of the History of Technology. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-19399-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35843. p. 63. 4 January 1943. Retrieved 2008-12-26.
  5. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37407. p. 2. 1 January 1946. Retrieved 2008-12-26.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 38173. p. 209. 9 January 1948. Retrieved 2008-12-26.

External links