John Heavens

John Heavens talking with Bala Balasubramanian

John Heavens was brought up in London and studied Materials Science at the University of Surrey, and obtained a PhD in Physics at Bristol University.


He began his career working on glass fiber reinforced cement at Pilkington Laboratories at Ormskirk in the United Kingdom and was very active in the Glass Reinforced Cement Association.

In 1976 he joined ARC Concrete and was involved in the development of Slimline, marketing this Queens Award winning glass reinforced concrete jacking pipe in many places. In Japan, in 1981, Heavens met with microtunnelling pioneer Dr. Toyhama, then Director of the Ministry of Construction’s Sewerage Division. Dr. Tohyama took a large Japanese group to the first No-Dig Conference in London in 1985, he later became the first and only ISTT president. Heavens attended the Washington D.C. No-Dig Show in 1988.

In 1989 he joined Insituform Group to promote the Rolldown process and after the merger with Insituform of North America Inc. with his wife Pat, he relocated to Memphis, Tennessee and became involved with Insituform’s PE close fit lining developments and pressure pipe applications.

Always an enthusiast for new technology and with a prodigious work rate he fitted well into the growing company and reveled in the experience. A larger than life character renown for his Elvis Presley act, developed in the Japanese karaoke clubs, he really enjoyed his time in Memphis and later in St Louis.

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he returned to the UK in 2001 and within a few months was working as an independent consultant with JD Associates and in 2003 joined with industry colleagues to acquire a share in Jason Consultants Group.

Always interested in trenchless technology he took on the role of Technical Secretary at ISTT – he developed the technical content of the ISTT website including substantial technology guidelines and worked with John Castle to get trenchless technology recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as sustainable technology. He was a strong contributor to any debate on trenchless matters and built a large network of friends in the industry around the globe. His flowing contribution was interrupted by his illness and he stepped down in 2007.

A friend to so many, he passed away on March 1 and will be missed.