Mallard Engine

IMechE PRESIDENTS

Our Presidents are drawn from across the spectrum mechanical engineering: representing the expertise and skills of the discipline. Presidential terms are now annual. For a portrait of each of our Presidents scroll through the image gallery, arranged by date (1847 onwards). For their biographies and portrait click on their name in the list.

Past Presidents include George Stephenson (our first President and ‘Father of the Railways’), William Armstrong (whose house, Cragside, was the first in the world to use hydroelectricity), Arthur Hartley (who helped develop the Pluto Pipeline to supply the Allies during World War II), Bernard Crossland (carried out the Kings Cross fire investigation) and Pamela Liversidge (our first female president, 1997).

George Stephenson bookplate
IMechE bookplate with 1st President, George Stephenson
  • 1847-1848: George Stephenson

Renowned as the ‘Father of the Railways, George Stephenson was born in Wylam, Northumberland in 1781.  He followed his father into the local coal mines, beginning his career as assistant fireman to his father.  Ambitious, although not educated, Stephenson was technically able and prepared to learn.  While working as engine-wright at the Killingworth Colliery, he invented the miners’ safety lamp which he tested by taking it into a particularly volatile region of the mine; although the experiment was risky, he emerged safely.  After some dispute as to whether the lamp was invented first by Stephenson or by Sir Humphrey Davy, who claimed the £3,000 reward on offer, a sum of £1,000 was raised and presented to Stephenson by North-eastern industrialists.

Most famous as a railway pioneer, Stephenson had watched developments in the area of steam locomotion with interest, and from 1815 onwards, carried out key experiments and developments at Killingworth wagonway.   By 1818, the wagonway had been entirely re-laid with cast-iron edge-rails developed and patented by Stephenson in cooperation with the iron-making firm of Losh, Wilson and Bell.  By 1820, when the line was replaced with wrought iron track, haulage by horse had virtually disappeared at Killingworth.

In 1821, Stephenson was appointed engineer to the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the first passenger railway in the world.  Here he fought hard for the use of steam locomotives over horse-power, at the same time establishing Robert Stephenson & Co. to supply locomotives and other steam engines.  Four winding engines and a steam locomotive were delivered to the Railway by the time it opened in 1825, and Locomotive No.1 hauled a fully loaded train along the line at the opening.

After his success at the helm of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, Stephenson was invited to assist with other railway schemes, most importantly the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.  Opposition from local farmers and landowners meant adequate surveying could not be carried out, and a parliamentary bill was rejected in 1825.  A bill of 1826 was more successful, and Stephenson was appointed engineer.  Whether to use fixed or locomotive engines was fiercely debated, and the Rainhill trials were held in 1829 as a test of the locomotive power advocated by Stephenson.  A prize of £500 was offered to the winner. Of the four competing engines, Stephenson’s, the Rocket, was pronounced the winner after running 12 miles in 53 minutes.  The line officially opened the following year.

For the next fifteen years, George Stephenson was involved in most of the railway schemes of the time.  An important result of Stephenson’s involvement, and his vision of a national, unified rail network, was the adoption of a standard gauge of rail spacing.  He retired in 1845, and in 1847 became the first President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  He died in 1848.  Stephenson’s support for the fledgling Institution in the last year of his life was a final and lasting legacy to his chosen profession.

  • 1849-1853: Robert Stephenson

Robert Stephenson was born in 1803.

He was apprenticed in 1819 to a coal-viewer at Killingworth, where he attended science classes at the University of Edinburgh. On his return he joined his father in the factory at Newcastle. He developed the construction of wrought-iron bridges for carrying railways across estuaries, rivers and valleys, notable examples being the Royal Border Bridge at Berwick, the high-level bridge at Newcastle-on-Tyne, the Britannia tubular bridge, and the Victoria tubular bridge over the River St. Lawrence, Canada.

He was also frequently consulted in the construction of foreign railways.

In 1847 he entered the House of Commons as Member for Whitby.

He became the Institution’s second President in 1849, after the death of his father, George Stephenson.

He died in 1859.

  • 1854-1855: Sir William Fairbairn

Sir William Fairbairn Bt (1789-1874), born in Kelso in 1789.

At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to Percy Main Colliery, near Newcastle-on-Tyne.  In 1811 he moved to London, where he worked for Rennie and Penn.  In 1817 he set up in business with a former shop-mate, James Lillie.

Fairbairn was involved with many of the major technological advances of his day.  Some of the areas he was involved with include bridge building, machinery manufacture, investigation into the strength of materials and the construction of boilers, as well as the prevention of boiler explosions.  He was also one of the first to experiment with shipbuilding in iron, and his shipyard at Millwall was the earliest iron-shipbuilding establishment of any great size in England.

He died in 1874.

  • 1856-1857: Joseph Whitworth

Joseph Whitworth was born in Stockport, then a small manufacturing satellite of Manchester. His father’s work as a frame-maker for the cotton industry must have given the young Whitworth early experience of industrial machinery. He was apprenticed to Manchester companies building mill pumps and textile machinery. At the age of 21, Joseph Whitworth had decided to seek employment in London. He travelled by barge, and along the way fell in love with and married Fanny Ankers, a bargemaster’s daughter.

Once arrived in London, in May 1825, Whitworth joined the works of Henry Maudslay. Maudslay was the father of the modern machine tool and his engine-building factory was a hotbed of engineering talent. Bryan Donkin, Joseph Clement, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and James Nasmyth all served time there. Whitworth worked in the relatively humble position of bench fitter because ‘he wanted to attain perfection’. Maudslay’s tools were then as close to that state as an aspiring engineer could hope to get.

Whitworth added to his experience with Holtzapffel and Company in 1828 and Joseph Clement in 1830. In five years, Whitworth had managed to serve the best machine makers that London could offer. Clement especially was far in advance of his commercial rivals and hi work on constructing Charles Babbage’s ‘Difference Engine’, or mechanical calculator, was the most intricate and difficult commission then given by the Government. Whitworth worked on components for this farsighted, but ultimately doomed project. For the aspiring engineer, it must have given profound insights into the levels of precision that might be attained.

Joseph Whitworth returned to Manchester to set up business on his own in 1832. He took premises in Port Street, then created a workshop at 44 Chorlton Street. The works began well, with Whitworth’s first independent patent lodged in 1834 – a machine for turning and screw cutting studs and hexagonal bolts. Before this, nuts and bolts were threaded by hand, an inaccurate and relatively expensive procedure. This patent set the pattern for a series of inventions and improvements to machinery and tools which would revolutionize manufacture.

Whitworth’s work built on that of Maudslay and others, but introduced far more fundamental thinking into the problem of producing accurate machinery. A good example was his work in making a true surface by scraping and comparing three matching planes. From these apparently simple ideas came the accuracy and method for which Whitworth became so famous.

In succeeding years, Whitworth built his business on accuracy and measurement, the gathering of engineering data and the standardisation of Whitworth Company output. It had been stated in 1830 that a fitter who could work to one sixteenth of an inch was a good workman. Whitworth’s measuring machines were capable of accurately measuring up to one two-millionth of an inch. These machines allowed him to produce standard measures and gauges. Uniformity was extended to the still famous Whitworth system of thread screw threads, commenced in 1841 and universally accepted in Britain by the 1860s. His machines for drilling, planing, slotting and shaping metal eventually formed part of the 1851 Great Exhibition displays, where over 20 of his machine were judged to be ‘of first rate excellence’.

As a result of this recognition at the Great Exhibition, the British Government consulted him on means of improving army weaponry. During the Crimean War, British army guns had proved hopelessly outdated. From 1854 Whitworth experimented to determine the best form of weapons and ammunition. Using a shooting range in his garden at Fallowfield, near Manchester, he eventually settled on the use of .45 inch elongated ammunition of rapid twist fired from a hexagonal rifle barrel. The War Office rejected the weapon, but many of its features became a standard for accurate small arms.

He was no more fortunate in the production of heavier weapons. By 1862 he had developed artillery with a range of over six miles. Again, the War Office rejected the improvements. Whitworth had much more success with his manufacture of guns for private use – even Queen Victoria was induced to fire a Whitworth rifle. The work let to Whitworth perfecting the process of hydraulic forging of gun steel.

In 1856, Joseph Whitworth became the fourth President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He was by now widely respected and influential, and he lost no time in promoting engineering standards within the Institution. Membership rose rapidly under his guidance and he was elected for a second term of office in 1866, the first individual to have served two separate terms as President. His great gift to the nation, £100,000 to found the Whitworth Scholarships for engineering, was announced at an Institution meeting in 1868 where it was acclaimed as ‘meeting the wants of the present age’. More than a century after his death, Whitworth’s legacy continues to meet the education needs of succeeding generations.

  • 1858-1859: John Penn

John Penn was born at Greenwich in 1805.  His father was established here as an engineer and millwright, working mainly in corn and flour mills.  Penn entered his father’s works at an early age.  His father died in 1843, and sole possession of the works passed to Penn.  For some years previously he had had sole management of the works.

One of the earliest engines which he produced was the grasshopper engine.  A 6 horse power grasshopper engine was the first steam engine to power the machinery at the works.

The 40 horse power beam engines fitted in the steamers ‘Ipswich’ and ‘Suffolk’ were probably the first marine engines to be designed and built by Penn.  These engines, with some modifications, were fitted to the four passenger boats plying on the Thames between London and Greenwich.

Penn next turned his attention to improving the oscillating engine.  In 1844 he replaced the engines of the Admiralty yacht, ‘Black Eagle’, with oscillating engines of double the power, without increasing either the weight or space occupied.

Another major innovation in marine engineering was Penn’s introduction of trunk engines for driving screw propellers in vessels of war.  Here space was at a premium, and the engines had to be placed in as safe a position as possible.  He kept the engines low in the vessel, and drove the screw directly.  The first ships fitted with this engine design were the ‘Arrogant’ and the ‘Encounter’, and by the time of Penn’s death in 1878, 230 ships had been fitted with such engines.

Penn was also responsible for introducing wood bearings for screw-propeller shafts, presenting two papers on the subject to the Institution in 1856 and 1858.  He was also associated with the application of super-heated steam in marine engines, presenting a paper on this subject in 1859.

John Penn became a Member of the Institution in 1848.  He served as President in 1858-1859, and again in 1867-1868.

In 1872, he handed over management of the works to his two eldest sons, retiring altogether in 1875.  He died in 1878.

  • 1860: James Kennedy

James Kennedy was born in Gilmerton, near Edinburgh, in 1797.

He was apprenticed at 13 to a millwright near Dalkeith, where he remained for five years.  He spent some years working as a millwright, and working with winding and pumping engines at several places, before moving to Lavenoch Hall, near Hamilton, where he was employed to erect pumping and winding engines of his own design.

He later constructed direct-acting marine engines, one of which was for the S.S. Emerald Isle, which belonged to the St George’s Steam Packet Co, Liverpool.  He then travelled to Liverpool to supervise its installation.  While in Liverpool, he met George Stephenson, who was then establishing a locomotive works at Newcastle-on-Tyne.  He was appointed manager of these works in 1824.  While in this position, he constructed two pairs of winding engines for use on the Stockton and Darlington Railway, and planned the first three locomotives for the opening of the railway in 1825.

He left Newcastle for Liverpool at the end of 1825, where he undertook the management of the works of Mather and Dixon.  He then became a partner in the firm of Bury, Curtis and Kennedy, who constructed locomotive, marine and stationary engines.  The company made locomotives for a number of railways, including the Manchester and Liverpool, Leicester and Swannington and London and Birmingham.

In 1844, he began managing Thomas Vernon and Son, Liverpool, a firm involved in iron-shipbuilding.  Here he introduced iron deck-beams, which soon became universally applied.

He was a Member of the Institution from its formation in 1847.

He died at the age of 90 in his house, Cressington Park, near Liverpool, in 1886.

  • 1861-1862: Lord William Armstrong

William George Armstrong was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1810.  He was educated at Bishop Auckland Grammar School, before being articled to a firm of solicitors, Messrs Donkin and Stable. Having completed his training, in 1834 he became a junior partner in the firm.

He became involved with engineering through experimentation with hydraulic machinery in his leisure time.  At the age of 36 he decided to give up the legal profession, and established a small engineering business in partnership with Mr. Donkin; his father, Alderman Armstrong; and Messrs Potter, Cruddas, and Lambert.  They purchased a small plot of land at Elswick on which to erect their works.

At first, the main concern of the business was the hydraulic machinery that had so fascinated Armstrong.  Later, during the Crimean War, the company began to look at the improvement of ordnance.  Armstrong was appointed Director of Rifled Ordnance in 1859, and held this position until retiring in 1863.

In the same year, he purchased a large piece of land near Rothbury, Northumberland, an area in which he had spent much time as a boy.  He began to build a house for himself in 1864, which was completed by 1866, though much added to from this date on.  In 1866, he created an artificial lake.  The head of water produced powered a hydraulic ram, which supplied water to the house and grounds.  Armstrong soon developed a further four lakes, and began to use them to supply electric power to the house, as well as hydraulic lifts and a hydraulic spit in the kitchen.  They also powered what Joseph Swan believed to be the first proper installation of electric lighting.  He also bought Bamburgh Castle and restored it, intending it to be used as a convalescence home.

Armstrong received many honours during his life, including the Albert Medal of the Society of Arts for his inventions in hydraulic machinery, and the Bessemer gold medal of the Iron and Steel Institute for his services to the steel industry.  He was Knighted in 1859 and created a Baron in 1887.

Lord Armstrong was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1861, 1862 and 1869.  He was President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1881.  He died in 1900.

  • 1863-1865: Robert Napier

Robert Napier was born in Dunbarton in 1791.  He served a five year apprenticeship with his father, a blacksmith, then worked as a mechanic and blacksmith in Edinburgh and Glasgow.  In 1815 he set up as a blacksmith on his own account in Glasgow, and later became an ironmonger and engineer.

He built his first marine engine for the ‘Leven’ steamboat in 1823.  He moved to larger premises five years later, and added a shipbuilding yard at Govan.

He formed an association in 1830 with the City of Glasgow Steam Packet Company, and engineered most of their vessels.  In 1839, he helped to establish the Cunard Line of mail steamers, which travelled between the UK and North America.  In 1856 he built the H.M.S. ‘Erebus’, the first of the armour-clad vessels ordered for the British Navy.

He died in 1876.

  • 1866: Joseph Whitworth

Joseph Whitworth was born in Stockport, then a small manufacturing satellite of Manchester. His father’s work as a frame-maker for the cotton industry must have given the young Whitworth early experience of industrial machinery. He was apprenticed to Manchester companies building mill pumps and textile machinery. At the age of 21, Joseph Whitworth had decided to seek employment in London. He travelled by barge, and along the way fell in love with and married Fanny Ankers, a bargemaster’s daughter.

Once arrived in London, in May 1825, Whitworth joined the works of Henry Maudslay. Maudslay was the father of the modern machine tool and his engine-building factory was a hotbed of engineering talent. Bryan Donkin, Joseph Clement, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and James Nasmyth all served time there. Whitworth worked in the relatively humble position of bench fitter because ‘he wanted to attain perfection’. Maudslay’s tools were then as close to that state as an aspiring engineer could hope to get.

Whitworth added to his experience with Holtzapffel and Company in 1828 and Joseph Clement in 1830. In five years, Whitworth had managed to serve the best machine makers that London could offer. Clement especially was far in advance of his commercial rivals and hi work on constructing Charles Babbage’s ‘Difference Engine’, or mechanical calculator, was the most intricate and difficult commission then given by the Government. Whitworth worked on components for this farsighted, but ultimately doomed project. For the aspiring engineer, it must have given profound insights into the levels of precision that might be attained.

Joseph Whitworth returned to Manchester to set up business on his own in 1832. He took premises in Port Street, then created a workshop at 44 Chorlton Street. The works began well, with Whitworth’s first independent patent lodged in 1834 – a machine for turning and screw cutting studs and hexagonal bolts. Before this, nuts and bolts were threaded by hand, an inaccurate and relatively expensive procedure. This patent set the pattern for a series of inventions and improvements to machinery and tools which would revolutionize manufacture.

Whitworth’s work built on that of Maudslay and others, but introduced far more fundamental thinking into the problem of producing accurate machinery. A good example was his work in making a true surface by scraping and comparing three matching planes. From these apparently simple ideas came the accuracy and method for which Whitworth became so famous.

In succeeding years, Whitworth built his business on accuracy and measurement, the gathering of engineering data and the standardisation of Whitworth Company output. It had been stated in 1830 that a fitter who could work to one sixteenth of an inch was a good workman. Whitworth’s measuring machines were capable of accurately measuring up to one two-millionth of an inch. These machines allowed him to produce standard measures and gauges. Uniformity was extended to the still famous Whitworth system of thread screw threads, commenced in 1841 and universally accepted in Britain by the 1860s. His machines for drilling, planing, slotting and shaping metal eventually formed part of the 1851 Great Exhibition displays, where over 20 of his machine were judged to be ‘of first rate excellence’.

As a result of this recognition at the Great Exhibition, the British Government consulted him on means of improving army weaponry. During the Crimean War, British army guns had proved hopelessly outdated. From 1854 Whitworth experimented to determine the best form of weapons and ammunition. Using a shooting range in his garden at Fallowfield, near Manchester, he eventually settled on the use of .45 inch elongated ammunition of rapid twist fired from a hexagonal rifle barrel. The War Office rejected the weapon, but many of its features became a standard for accurate small arms.

He was no more fortunate in the production of heavier weapons. By 1862 he had developed artillery with a range of over six miles. Again, the War Office rejected the improvements. Whitworth had much more success with his manufacture of guns for private use – even Queen Victoria was induced to fire a Whitworth rifle. The work let to Whitworth perfecting the process of hydraulic forging of gun steel.

In 1856, Joseph Whitworth became the fourth President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He was by now widely respected and influential, and he lost no time in promoting engineering standards within the Institution. Membership rose rapidly under his guidance and he was elected for a second term of office in 1866, the first individual to have served two separate terms as President. His great gift to the nation, £100,000 to found the Whitworth Scholarships for engineering, was announced at an Institution meeting in 1868 where it was acclaimed as ‘meeting the wants of the present age’. More than a century after his death, Whitworth’s legacy continues to meet the education needs of succeeding generations.

  • 1867-1868: John Penn

John Penn was born at Greenwich in 1805.  His father was established here as an engineer and millwright, working mainly in corn and flour mills.  Penn entered his father’s works at an early age.  His father died in 1843, and sole possession of the works passed to Penn.  For some years previously he had had sole management of the works.

One of the earliest engines which he produced was the grasshopper engine.  A 6 horse power grasshopper engine was the first steam engine to power the machinery at the works.

The 40 horse power beam engines fitted in the steamers ‘Ipswich’ and ‘Suffolk’ were probably the first marine engines to be designed and built by Penn.  These engines, with some modifications, were fitted to the four passenger boats plying on the Thames between London and Greenwich.

Penn next turned his attention to improving the oscillating engine.  In 1844 he replaced the engines of the Admiralty yacht, ‘Black Eagle’, with oscillating engines of double the power, without increasing either the weight or space occupied.

Another major innovation in marine engineering was Penn’s introduction of trunk engines for driving screw propellers in vessels of war.  Here space was at a premium, and the engines had to be placed in as safe a position as possible.  He kept the engines low in the vessel, and drove the screw directly.  The first ships fitted with this engine design were the ‘Arrogant’ and the ‘Encounter’, and by the time of Penn’s death in 1878, 230 ships had been fitted with such engines.

Penn was also responsible for introducing wood bearings for screw-propeller shafts, presenting two papers on the subject to the Institution in 1856 and 1858.  He was also associated with the application of super-heated steam in marine engines, presenting a paper on this subject in 1859.

John Penn became a Member of the Institution in 1848.  He served as President in 1858-1859, and again in 1867-1868.

In 1872, he handed over management of the works to his two eldest sons, retiring altogether in 1875.  He died in 1878.

  • 1869: Lord William Armstrong

William George Armstrong was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1810.  He was educated at Bishop Auckland Grammar School, before being articled to a firm of solicitors, Messrs Donkin and Stable. Having completed his training, in 1834 he became a junior partner in the firm.

He became involved with engineering through experimentation with hydraulic machinery in his leisure time.  At the age of 36 he decided to give up the legal profession, and established a small engineering business in partnership with Mr. Donkin; his father, Alderman Armstrong; and Messrs Potter, Cruddas, and Lambert.  They purchased a small plot of land at Elswick on which to erect their works.

At first, the main concern of the business was the hydraulic machinery that had so fascinated Armstrong.  Later, during the Crimean War, the company began to look at the improvement of ordnance.  Armstrong was appointed Director of Rifled Ordnance in 1859, and held this position until retiring in 1863.

In the same year, he purchased a large piece of land near Rothbury, Northumberland, an area in which he had spent much time as a boy.  He began to build a house for himself in 1864, which was completed by 1866, though much added to from this date on.  In 1866, he created an artificial lake.  The head of water produced powered a hydraulic ram, which supplied water to the house and grounds.  Armstrong soon developed a further four lakes, and began to use them to supply electric power to the house, as well as hydraulic lifts and a hydraulic spit in the kitchen.  They also powered what Joseph Swan believed to be the first proper installation of electric lighting.  He also bought Bamburgh Castle and restored it, intending it to be used as a convalescence home.

Armstrong received many honours during his life, including the Albert Medal of the Society of Arts for his inventions in hydraulic machinery, and the Bessemer gold medal of the Iron and Steel Institute for his services to the steel industry.  He was Knighted in 1859 and created a Baron in 1887.

Lord Armstrong was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1861, 1862 and 1869.  He was President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1881.  He died in 1900.

  • 1870-1871: John Ramsbottom

John Ramsbottom was born in Todmorden in 1814.

He worked in his father’s cotton mill for some years  In 1839 he entered the service of Sharp, Roberts and Co, manufacturers of locomotives and cotton-spinning machinery.

In 1842, he was appointed locomotive superintendent of the Manchester and Birmingham Railway.  When this line was absorbed by the London and North Western Railway in 1846, he became district superintendent of the northern and north-eastern sections.  In 1857 he was promoted to the position of locomotive superintendent at Crewe, from which position he retired in 1871.

He was responsible for a number of inventions and improvements, including the piston with simple packing-rings; tamper-proof safety-valves; a device to enable locomotives to pick up water whilst running; a new system for manufacturing steel tyres, and a horizontal duplex steam-hammer.

In 1883 he became consulting engineer to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway for the design and construction of their Horwich Works, and he later became a Director of the Railway.
He was an original member of the Institution.  He died in 1897.

  • 1872-1873: Sir Charles William Siemens

Sir Charles William Siemens was born in Lenthe, near Hanover, in 1823.

In 1843, soon after completing his university education at the University of Gottingen, he came over to England to introduce a joint invention by himself and his elder brother Werner, in electro-plating.  He returned the following year with another joint invention, the chronometric governor, which was used at Greenwich Observatory for many years.

Other significant inventions were the anastatic printing process, which reproduced old or new printed material, and a double-cylinder air-pump.  He also developed a regenerative system, to save heat which was generally wasted; this was first applied to a 4-horse power engine in 1847.

In 1858, he established the firm of Siemens Brothers, for the manufacture and laying of submarine cables and land lines, and for the construction of electrical instruments and machines.  Around this time he was developing the regenerative gas furnace with his younger brother, Frederick.  The first practical application was made in 1861, and five years later an experimental works was erected, where the process of producing steel in the open hearth of a regenerative gas furnace was developed.

He was particularly interested in the application of electricity for lighting, heating, transmitting power, and other industrial processes, particularly agriculture and horticulture.  At his country house near Tunbridge Wells, electricity performed most of the farm work, sawing wood, pumping water, and also assisting the growth of plants, vegetables and fruits.

He died in 1883.

  • 1874-1875: Sir Frederick J Bramwell

Sir Frederick J Bramwell was born in London in 1818.

In 1834 he was apprenticed to John Hague, a mechanical engineer, and after his apprenticeship had ended, spent some years there as chief draughtsman and manager.  He was particularly interested in the vacuum system for distributing power, and was so impressed with its potential that he, along with a fellow apprentice, worked out a proposal for a Subterranean Atmospheric Railway between Hyde Park Corner and Bank.

He worked for some time at the Fairfield Railway Carriage Works at Bow, and was also involved with the development of the motor car.  In 1881, at a meeting of the British Association, he predicted that, by 1931, the steam-engine would only be seen in museums as an interesting relic of a past age, having been superseded by the internal-combustion engine.

He made his name as a scientific witness, testifying in matters connected with engineering or patent litigation.  He also acted as an Arbitrator.

He was also President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1884.

He died in 1903

  • 1876-1877: Thomas Hawksley

Thomas Hawksley was born at Arnold, near Nottingham, 12 July 1807. Educated at the local Grammar School, he was articled to an architect and surveyor, Mr Staveley, in Nottingham: he became a partner in the business before leaving to work in London in 1852.

Hawksley is best known for his work in water engineering. He pioneered the supply of clean water for Nottingham as early as 1830, going on to engineer the supplies of Liverpool, Sheffield, Nottingham and many other growing urban industrial sites. The Dictionary of National Biography states that ‘there is scarcely a large city in the kingdom which did not make use of Hawksley’s services at one time or another’. In conjunction with Lord Armstrong, he invented a self-acting valve to regulate pipeline flow.

Hawksley was also a gas engineer, again advising on the supply for large cities. As a gasworks manager in Nottingham during the Chartists’ protests, Hawksley is said to have defended his charge by rigging up home-made gas flame-throwers.

He became a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1840 and a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1856. He served as President for both organisations and was first President of what became the Institution of Gas Engineers. For the Mechanical Engineers’ Proceedings, he contributed widely on the subjects of boilers and boiler explosions, engines, pressure gauges and pumping machinery. Most importantly, as President, he was responsible for the Institution’s move from its first home in Birmingham, to its present location in London.

Hawksley was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1878, Britain’s highest scientific honour. His son, in memory of his father, initiated the Hawksley lectures from 1913.

The Thomas Hawksley lecture and medal is one of the most prestigious events in the annual calendar of the Institution.  The Thomas Hawksley Fund was established by Mr Charles Hawksley, Member of Council, to commemorate the centenary on 12th July 1907 of the birth of his father, the late Thomas Hawksley.  In 1913 it was decided to use the gift to fund an Annual Lecture on the subject of mechanical engineering.  The first “Thomas Hawksley” Lecture was presented to the Institution on 5thDecember 1913 by Mr Edward B Ellington, an expert in hydraulic engineering and a past president of the Institution. He took the subject of “Water as a Mechanical Agent” for his presentation.  The lecture was presented at the Institution’s headquarters and then repeated in Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Nottingham, all the towns that had benefited by the engineering work of Thomas Hawksley.   Famous figures who have presented the lecture include: H L Callendar who published the first steam tables, F W Lanchester, the internal combustion engine pioneer, Harry Ricardo, one of the foremost engine designers and Sir Noel Ashbridge, the broadcasting engineer.

  • 1878-1879: John Robinson

John Robinson was born in Skipton in 1823.

He was a locomotive engineer specializing in injector boilers.  He was apprenticed in 1839 to Sharp, Roberts and Co, and in 1843 he became a partner in the firm.  Twenty years later the firm became a limited company, and he became vice-chairman and co-managing director with the chairman, C. P. Stewart.  Upon Stewart’s death in 1882, Robinson became Chairman, which position he retained until his retirement in 1890, the year after the company moved to Glasgow.

He died in 1902.

  • 1880-1881: Edward A Cowper

Edward A Cowper (1819-1893)

Edward A Cowper was born in London in 1819.

He was apprenticed in 1834 to John Braithwaite of St Pancras, a locomotive and railway engineer.  While there invented the detonating fog signal, in 1837, which was subsequently widely used.  At the end of his apprenticeship, he went to Fox and Henderson at the London Works, near Birmingham, where he held the position of chief draughtsman and engineer.

In 1846, he played an active part in the establishment of the Institution, and presented on of the earliest papers, on an ‘inverted-arch suspension bridge’.

In 1851, he returned to London and set up as a consulting engineer.  He was involved with two important projects.  He worked on the 1851 Exhibition Building, later the Crystal Palace, and he designed the wrought-iron roof of the railway station, Birmingham New Street.  At the time of its construction it was the largest span roof in existence, at 211 feet.

Another invention of his was the modern bicycle wheel; a wire-spoke suspension wheel with india-rubber tyre, which is, in principles, the same as that used today.

  • 1882-1883: Percy G B Westmacott

Percy G B Westmacott (1830-1917)

Percy G B Westmacott was born in Edinburgh in 1830.

He was apprenticed to Miller, Ravenhill and Co, Blackwall.  In 1851 he joined the W. G. Armstrong’s Elswick Works as a draughtsman.  When Armstrong was appointed to superintend the manufacture of guns at Woolwich Arsenal in 1895, Westmacott was entrusted with the technical management of the engine works at Elswick, and during this time contributed to the development of the hydraulic lifting machinery department.  In 1864 he became a partner in the company of Sir W. G. Armstrong and Co,  formed in that year, and became Managing Director when the firm became a limited company in 1882.

He died in 1917.

  • 1884: Sir Lowthian Bell

Sir Lowthian Bell (1816-1904)

Sir Lowthian Bell was born in Newcastle in 1816.

He studied at Edinburgh University, then at the Sorbonne, Paris.  After finishing his university education he spent a year travelling the Continent examining the most important iron manufacturing plants.  He then returned to study practical iron-making at the Walker Iron Works, where his father was a partner in the firm of Losh, Wilson and Bell.

In 1850, he joined with others in the establishment of chemical works at Washington, near Newcastle.  It was here that formed the company of Bell Brothers with his brothers Thomas and John.  They founded the first works in England for the manufacture of aluminium.  They also founded the Clarence Iron Works near the mouth of the River Tees, where they erected three blast-furnaces which were then the largest in the country.

The company was also a pioneer in the manufacture of salt in the area, was one of the largest colliery proprietors in South Durham, and owned ironstone mines and limestone quarries.

He died in 1904.

  • 1885-1886: Jeremiah Head

Jeremiah Head (1835-1899)

Jeremiah Head was born in Ipswich in 1835.

He was apprenticed in 1852 at the works of Robert Stephenson and Co, Newcastle-on-Tyne.  He served in the pattern-making, fitting and erection shops and the drawing office.  He was engaged in designing and erecting two compound mill engines, which were fitted for the first time with a true parabolic governor.

He worked for a short time at Kitson & Co, Airedale Foundry, Leeds, then became manager of the Steam Plough Works of John Fowler and Co in Leeds, where he invented a means of signalling by lamps to facilitate steam-ploughing at night.

In 1868, together with Theodore Fox he founded the firm of Fox, Head and Co, and erected the Newport Rolling Mills, Middlesbrough, for the manufacture of iron plates.  They employed 600 men.  He introduced a plan of profit-sharing with his workmen, that was so successful that no labour disputes arose, even in a period of wider disturbances.  He sought to improve the conditions of his workmen in other ways too, and it was largely due to his actions that Middlesbrough was the first town in England to apply for the establishment of a school board after the passing of the Education Act of 1870.  He also founded the Cleveland Institution of Engineers in 1864.

In 1885, Fox, Head and Co was dissolved, and Head began to work as a consulting engineer in Cleveland.  In 1888 he laid out the Bowesfield Iron Works at Stockton-on-Tees, and in 1891 the New British Iron Works at Corngreaves near Birmingham.  He moved his practice to Westminster in 1894.

He died in 1899.

  • 1887-1888: Sir Edward Carbutt

Sir Edward Carbutt was born in Chapel Allerton, Leeds, in 1837.  He was the youngest son of Francis Carbutt, who was director of the Midland Railway Company for almost twenty-five years.  It was in the Derby workshops of the Midland Railway Company that he began his apprenticeship, which he completed at Palmer’s Works at Jarrow-on-Tyne.

Upon completing his apprenticeship, he returned to the Derby works as outdoor foreman in the locomotive department.  When he was 24 he entered into partnership with Robinson Thwaites in the Vulcan Iron Works at Bradford.  They soon acquired a high reputation for machinery used in the production and manufacture of iron and steel.

He was also involved in politics, and succeeded in causing Government enquiries to be carried out into increasing ordnance production, and the need for the extension of the railways in India.

He died in 1905.

  • 1889: Charles Cochrane

Charles Cochrane (1835-1898)

Charles Cochrane was born in Blackbrook, near Dudley, in 1835.  His father, Alexander Brodie Cochrane, was the owner of Woodside Iron Works, near Dudley.

He left school at the age of 15, and although too young to be admitted as a student of Kings College, London, he was given permission to attend college classes.  Upon leaving college he gained practical experience with Samuel Holden Blackwell, owner of Russell’s Hall Iron Works, near Dudley, and other blast-furnaces, mills and forges.  At the age of 20 he went to the Ormesby Iron Works which had recently been established by his father.  The following year he became a partner with his father in these works and the Woodside Iron Works.

He became one of the leading authorities on blast furnaces, and was equally recognized in the United States.  The Woodside Iron Works was also associated with many important structures, including the Holborn Viaduct, Westminster Bridge, Cannon Street Railway Bridge and Station, Charing Cross Railway Bridge and Station, and the Runcorn Bridge over the Mersey.  They also removed the Hungerford Suspension Bridge over the Thames and re-erected it as the Clifton Suspension Bridge at Bristol.

He died in 1898.

  • 1890-1891: Joseph Tomlinson

Joseph Tomlinson was born in London in 1823.  After leaving school in 1837, he joined his father, who was passenger superintendent, at the Stockton and Darlington Railway.  Over the course of his career he worked for a number of different railways.  In 1851, at the time of the Great Exhibition, he was working for the London and South Western Railway, and often drove the special train which took Prince Albert from Windsor to Waterloo and back, often accompanied by his two sons, the Prince of Wales and Prince Alfred.

From 1854 he worked for the Midland Railway, and here he oversaw the transition from coke to coal as the fuel for locomotive engines.  This experience came in useful later in his career, when at the Taff Valley Railway he was forced to use coal due to the continued strike of the Rhondda Valley colliers.

After a period as a consulting engineer in Cardiff, he joined the Metropolitan Railway as resident engineer and locomotive superintendent.  He improved the line considerably, and was responsible for designing and laying out their new locomotive works at Neasden.

As well as serving on Council and as President in 1890 and 1891, he was also Chairman of the Research Committee on Friction.

He died in 1894.

  • 1892-1893: Sir William Anderson

Sir William Anderson (1835-1898)

Sir William Anderson was born in St. Petersburg in 1835, and died in 1898.

He came to London in 1849, and began a three year course in applied sciences at King’s College.  In 1851 he became a pupil at Sir William Fairbairn’s Canal Street Works, Manchester.  He became manager of Courtney, Stephens and Co at Blackhall Iron Works in Dublin, in 1854.  The following year he was made a partner.  The company made many iron bridges, including the Malahide Viaduct, along with other constructive ironwork for railways and canal, and signalling apparatus and turntables.

He then moved to Easton and Amos at the Grove Works, Southwark.  They had decided to erect a large new works at Erith, and Anderson was responsible for the laying out of the works.  When completed, they considered a model of what an engineering works should be.

In 1871 he went to Egypt to work on the building of three large sugar factories, and three years later went to Japan to oversee the erection of the Ogi Paper Mill in Japan.  He gave an account of the Mill to the Institution in 1876.

Later in his career he became involved with ordnance.  In 1889, at the request of the Explosive Committee of the War Office, he undertook the design of machinery for the manufacture of the new explosive, Cordite.  In August of the same year he was appointed Director General of Ordnance Factories, and the Cordite machinery project was passed to his eldest son.  His new position saw him responsible for the ordnance factories, laboratory, carriage department and gun factory at Woolwich Arsenal, the small-arms factories at Enfield and Birmingham, and the gunpowder factory at Waltham Abbey.  Of the many hundred guns which were produced during his administration, which were at least 50 per cent more powerful than the guns the superseded, not a single failure or accident of any kind occurred.

  • 1894-1895: Sir Alexander B W Kennedy

Sir Alexander B W Kennedy (1847-1928)

Sir Alexander B W Kennedy was born in Stepney in 1847, and died in 1928.

He served his apprenticeship of four and a half years with J & W Dudgeon, shipbuilders and marine engineers at Millwall.  He then took up a position as leading draughtsman in the engine department of Palmers’ Shipbuilding and Iron Company at Jarrow-on-Tyne.  In 1871 he commenced practice as a consulting engineer in Edinburgh and Glasgow, in partnership with H O Bennett.

At the age of 27, he became Professor of Engineering at University College, London.  Here he established the first college engineering laboratory.  He continued to take on a great deal of consulting engineering work however, and in 1889 he resigned the professorship and devoted himself entirely to design and constructional work.

He carried out a large number of experiments on concrete beams, and designed the steel and concrete structure of the Alhambra Theatre.  He increasingly concentrated on electrical engineering, and became Chief Engineer of the Westminster Electric Supply Company, Central Electric Company and the St James’s and Pall Mall Electric Supply Company.  He designed many provincial electricity generating stations, and was also associated with related undertakings such as the London County Council Tramways, the Waterloo and City Tube Railway, the electrified lines of the Great Western Railway and Southern Railway and the formation of the London Power Company.

As well as his technical papers, he also published several books of wide interest, including ‘Ypres to Verdun’, a series of lectures and photographs depicting the devastation caused by the First World War, and ‘Petra: its History and Monuments’.  The latter was an account of a journey of exploration undertaken at the age of 75, accompanied by photographs which he had taken.

He also had a great love of music and was a talented amateur musician.

He died in 1928.

  • 1896-1897: Edward Windsor Richards
  1. Windsor Richards (1831-1921)

Born at Dowlais in August 1831, E. Windsor Richards was educated at Monmouth and Christ’s Hospital.  He served an apprenticeship in the works of Rhymney Iron Co., where his father was the general manager.  It was here that his attention was first drawn to the economy of utilizing the waste heat in blast-furnace gases.

He was then employed as assistant and then chief engineer of the Tredegar Iron Works.  In 1871 he was appointed general manager of the Ebbw Vale Works, where he was responsible for planning and laying out the Bessemer Steel Department.

Four years later he was appointed General Manager of Bolckow, Vaughan and Co’s iron works at Middlesbrough, where he was responsible for the design and erection of the Cleveland Steel Works at Eston.  These works included three hæmatite blast-furnaces, and Richards’ early efforts at the works contributed to the success of the Gilchrist-Thomas Basic process of making steel from phosphoric ore.

After 13 years at Eston, he left for Low Moor Works, where he worked at the manufacture of wrought iron.  This was at a time when wrought iron’s popularity was seriously affected by the basic steel he had helped to develop.

He retired in 1898, but continued to advise the firms he was associated with.  He was President of the IMechE in 1896 and 1897, and was President of the Iron and Steel Institute, of which he was an Original Member, in 1894.  He died on 12 November 1921.

  • 1898: Samuel Waite Johnson

Samuel Waite Johnson (1831-1912)

Samuel Waite Johnson was born at Bramley, near Leeds, on 14 October 1831.  His father was an engineer with the Great Northern Railway Company.  After attending Leeds Grammar School, he was apprenticed to E. B. Wilson & Co, Railway Foundry.  Here he was a pupil of James Fenton, a partner in the firm, and he assisted in the design of the ‘Jenny Lind’ type of engine.  He also worked on the ‘Bloomer’ type, introduced on the Southern Division of the London and North Western Railway.

After leaving the firm he became assistant district loco superintendent on the Great Northern Railway.  In 1859 he was appointed acting locomotive superintendent of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway at Gorton.  After a series of similar positions with the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway Company, North British Railway Company and the Great Eastern Railway, he was made head of the locomotive works of the Midland Railway at Derby in 1873.  He held this position for thirty years, until his retirement in 1903.

While with the Midland he introduced many important changes in the design and construction of locomotives.  He was awarded the Gold Medal at the Saltaire Exhibition in 1877, for his four-wheeled coupled express bogie engine, ‘Beatrice’.  He won the Grand Prix at the Paris Exhibition in 1889 for his single-acting-wheel express passenger engine, No. 1853.  He also introduced a larger class of boiler after 1900, in which the working pressure was raised to 195lb per square inch.

He died in Nottingham on 14 January 1912.

  • 1899-1900: Sir William H White

Sir William Henry White (1845-1913)

Sir William Henry White was born at Devonport on 2 February 1845.  He began work as an apprentice shipwright in the Royal Dockyard in his hometown. At the same time, he attended the dockyard school.  In 1863, he won an Admiralty scholarship.  The Admiralty was at that time setting up the Royal School of Naval Architecture at South Kensington.  White took the first entrance examination and won first place.  During his three years there he continued to take first place, and graduated with Diploma of Fellow (first class) in 1867.

That year he entered the Admiralty.  He was promoted to Assistant Constructor in 1875, and Chief Constructor in 1881.  After a couple of years he returned to the Admiralty as head of the Constructive Department.  He rose to the position of Director of Naval Construction and Assistant Controller before retiring due to ill health in 1902.

During his career at the Admiralty he won recognition for his original and arduous work in the development of naval architecture.  Whilst at Elswick Works he designed warships for Austria, Italy, Spain, China and Japan, and his designs for two United States cruisers were bought by the authorities at Washington.  On his return to the Admiralty, he did much work to harmonize the great variety of types of ship making up the Navy, introducing eight ships of the ‘Royal Sovereign’ class.  During his seventeen years in office, he was responsible for the design and construction of 43 battleships, 26 armoured cruisers, 21 first-class, 48 second-class and 33 third-class protected cruisers, and 74 smaller vessels.

After regaining his health, he gradually took up various appointments.  He was on the Cunard Commission to determine the type of machinery to be installed in the ‘Lusitania’ and ‘Mauretania’.  He was also a director of Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson, builders of the ‘Mauretania’.  He was appointed a Commissioner by the Government to look into the question of load-lines of merchant ships.

As well as being President of the IMechE in 1899 and 1900, White was a Fellow of the Royal Society; Honorary Vice-President of the Institution of Naval Architecture; President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1903-1904; and Chair of the Institute of Metals in 1909.

He died in 1913.

  • 1901-1902: William Henry Maw

William Henry Maw (1838-1924)

William Henry Maw was born at Scarborough on 6 December 1838.  He was privately educated.  At the age of sixteen he began an apprenticeship at the Eastern Counties Railway Works at Stratford, under John Gooch and Robert Sinclair.  In December 1859 he became head draughtsman in the locomotive and engineering department.

In 1860 he was attached to Robert Sinclair’s private staff, and was involved with the design of rolling stock for the Great Luxembourg Railway and locomotives for the East Indian Railway.  Both of these lines had employed Sinclair as consulting engineer.

In December 1865 he left the Great Eastern Railway to join Zerah Colburn in the establishment of Engineering.  In 1870, upon the suicide of Colburn, he was joined in the editorship by James Dredge.  In 1906 Dredge died and Maw became senior joint editor.  He kept this position until his death.

As well as editing Engineering, from 1870 onwards, Maw had an independent practice as a consulting engineer.  He was mainly involved with engine and boiler construction and the design and arrangement of workshops and similar buildings.  He was involved with the design and laying out of printing works for several important papers, including The Daily Telegraph, The Standard, and The Field and The Queen.

During the First World War he served on many government committees, particularly those associated with the Ministry of Munitions.  He also served continuously on the General Board of the National Physical Laboratory from its establishment in 1901 until 1915.  He was a member of the Committee responsible for the foundation of the British Engineering Standards Association in 1901, and was a member of the Main Committee until his death.

As well as engineering, Maw had a keen interest in astronomy and was elected a Member of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1888, holding the office of President from 1905 to 1907.  He was also one of the founders of the British Astronomical Association.  This society’s aim was the encouragement of amateurs to carry out work of astronomical value, and was he President from its establishment in 1890 to 1900.  He also had observatories built to his own design at his houses in Kensington and Surrey.

He was President of the IMechE in 1901-1902.  He was also involved in many other societies, including the Civil and Mechanical Engineers’ Society, of which he was President from 1863 to 1865, and the Institution of Civil Engineers, of which he was President in 1922.

He died on 19 March 1924.

  • 1903-1904: Joseph Hartley Wicksteed

Joseph Hartley Wicksteed (1842-1919)

Joseph Hartley Wicksteed was born on 12 September 1842 in Leeds.  He was educated at Ruthyn Grammar School, then apprenticed to the machine-tool making business of Joshua Buckton and Co., Well House Foundry, Leeds.  He became, in time, the chief designer, was later taken into partnership, and, on the retirement of Joshua Buckton, became the head of the firm.

He was the inventor of many mechanical appliances, including the vertical single-lever testing machine and the horizontal universal testing machine.  He was also directly identified with inventions such as multiple drills, two-spindle radial drills, double cutting tool-holders for planning and slotting machines and hydraulic plate shears.

He was President in 1903-4.  He died in 1919.

  • 1905-1906: Edward Pritchard Martin

Edward Pritchard Martin (1844-1910)

Edward Pritchard Martin was born on 20th January 1844 in Dowlais.  His father was mining engineer to the Dowlais Iron Co. for 58 years.

He was privately educated in England, then studied in Paris.  At the age of 16 he was apprenticed under W. Menelaus, who had worked with Sir Henry Bessemer in his early experiments.

In 1864, he was transferred to the London office of the Dowlais Iron Co.  Five years later he was appointed deputy general manager of the Dowlais Works under Menelaus.  At the end of 1870 he became manager of the Cwmavon Works, owned by the Governor and Company of Copper-Miners in England.  Later he was transferred to the Blaenavon Iron Works.

Whilst at the Blaenavon Iron Works, he became associated with the Thomas-Gilchrist attempts to make a satisfactory metal from phosphoric ores.  He was the first to give facilities for making trials on a commercial basis.   For this he was awarded the Bessemer Gold Medal of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1884, in conjunction with E. Windsor Richards.

In 1882, after the death of Menelaus, Martin became General Manager of the Dowlais Iron Works, and continued in this position for twenty years.  The erection of the new Dowlais-Cardiff Works on Cardiff Moors was commenced in 1888.  Two blast-furnaces were blown in February 1891, and the steel works and plate mills started work in 1895.  He introduced labour-saving machinery whenever possible, incorporating many ideas gained from visits to America.

He was President of the IMechE in 1905, and re-elected in 1906.  He was also an Original Member of the Iron and Steel Institute, and was President in 1897-1898.  He was President of the South Wales Institute of Engineers, and the Monmouth and South Wales Colliery-Owners’ Association.   He also held the chairmanship of the South Wales Iron and Steel Workers’ Sliding-Scale Board, an institution which was credited with keeping the district free from labour disputes.  He died at Harrogate on 25th September 1910.

  • 1907-1908: Tom Hurry Riches

Tom Hurry Riches (1846-1911)

Tom Hurry Riches was born in Cardiff in 1846.  He was educated at Trices’ Academy, Cardiff.  At the age of 17, he undertook an apprenticeship with the Taff Vale Railway, at their locomotive works.  He spent five years in the shops and drawing office of the company.  At the same time he studied Science and Art classes.  In 1868 he gained a scholarship at the Royal School of Mines.

On the completion of his apprenticeship, he went to see for a few months, serving as second engineer on the S.S. Camilla.  On his return he attended the Royal School of Mines, wining the Science and Art and Whitworth scholarships.

After completing his education he joined the Bute Iron Works and the Bute Old Works as General Manager.  He remained in this position for three years, designing and building many iron roofs and bridges, as well as assisting in the general supervision of the company’s engines, machinery, steamers and dredgers.

In 1872 he returned to the Taff Vale Railway as chief locomotive foreman.  The following year he was promoted to locomotive superintendent.  He was at the time the youngest locomotive superintendent in Britain.  He retained this appointment until his death.  During that time, the locomotive stock was doubled.  His responsibility was also extended to include all carriage and wagon work, the hydraulic and dredging machinery, dock machinery and coaling appliances.

Riches was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1907.  He was also a President of the Association of Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Superintendents of the United Kingdom, and was a keen member of the South Wales Institute of Engineers.  He died in 1911.

  • 1909-1910: Sir John Audley Frederick Aspinall

Sir John Audley Frederick Aspinall (1851-1937)

Sir John Audley Frederick Aspinall was born in Liverpool in 1851.  He received his education at Beaumont College, Berkshire, and in 1869 he became apprenticed to John Ramsbottom, another Past-President of the IMechE, at the Crewe works of the London and North Western Railway.  After completing his training with F W Webb, he was made assistant manager of the steelworks at Crewe.

In 1875 he was appointed works manager of the Great Southern and Western Railway at Inchicore, and became locomotive engineer in 1883.  At this time, he made important contributions to the development of the vacuum brake.  In 1886 he became chief mechanical engineer of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, during which time he was responsible for the establishment of the new works at Horwich.  He also founded the Mechanics’ Institute there.

He took a keen interest in engineering education.  He helped to establish the Chair of Engineering at the University of Liverpool, where he was Associate Professor of Railway Engineering, and in 1908 he was appointed chairman of the Faculty of Engineering.

Sir John’s locomotive policy at the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway was to build a large number of engines to a few simple designs, applying the principles of standardisation.  In 1899 he was appointed general manager of the company.  He held this position for twenty years, during which time he introduced electric traction for some suburban services.  The first of these was the Liverpool and Southport line in 1904.  He also developed the steamship services of the company, both from Liverpool to Ireland and from Goole and Hull to various ports in Northern Europe.

In 1919 he resigned his position as general manager, and became a director.  He was also appointed consulting mechanical engineer to the Ministry of Transport.  He was often involved with the passage of Railway Bills through Parliament.  He held this position when the grouping of the railways took place.  According to his Memoir, published in the IMechE Proceedings in 1937, at the time of Aspinall’s eightieth birthday, three of the four chief mechanical engineers of the great railway groups had received their training from him.

He was President of the IMechE in 1909-1910, and was made an Honorary Life Member in 1928.  He died on 19 January 1937.

  • 1911-1912: Edward Bayzand Ellington

Edward Bayzand Ellington (1845-1914)

Edward Bayzand Ellington was born on 2 August 1845 in London.  He was educated at Denmark Hill Grammar School.  On leaving school in 1862 he was articled to John Penn of Greenwich.  He stayed there until 1868, and was involved in erecting plant onboard ship, and attending trial trips.  From 1867 to 1868 he worked in the drawing office.

In 1869 he entered into partnership with Bryan Johnson of Chester.  The company, renamed Johnson and Ellington, began specializing in hydraulic machinery.  In 1875 they acquired the right to manufacture the Brotherhood three cylinder hydraulic engine.  The company was converted to a limited company named ‘The Hydraulic Engineering Company’.

Largely through the efforts of Ellington, an Act of Parliament was passed for the distribution of water at high pressure for the working of goods and passenger lifts, in large towns.  In 1872 he initiated the Hull Hydraulic Power Company, the company of its type.  It was a pioneer which demonstrated the practicality of the idea on a large scale.  In 1882, he took a prominent role in the supply of hydraulic power to London, with the formation of the General Hydraulic Power Company of Southwark, London.  He was appointed general manager and engineer, and remained in these posts until his death.  The General Hydraulic Power Company formed subsidiary companies to supply power to Liverpool (in 1889), Manchester (in 1894) and Glasgow (in 1895).

He was also responsible for many inventions.  The most important were the hydraulic balance list and the automatic injector fire-hydrant.  His hydraulic power supply system was awarded a gold medal at the Inventions Exhibition in 1885.

He was President 1911-1912, and it was during this time that the extension of 1 Birdcage Walk commenced.   He died in London on 10 November 1914.

  • 1913-1914: Sir Hay Frederick Donaldson

Sir Hay Frederick Donaldson (1856-1916)

Sir Hay Frederick Donaldson, son of the first Premier of New South Wales, was born in Sydney on 7 June 1856.  He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, followed by a technical education at the University of Edinburgh.  Between 1875 and 1877, he served an apprenticeship at the London and North Western Railway Works, Crewe.  For the following two years, he received further technical training at Zürich and Cambridge.

In 1880 he was employed on Parliamentary work, and as engineer in charge of the construction of the Burnley tramways.  He was also an executive engineer on the West of India Portuguese Railway and Harbour, as well as the harbour works at Goa.  In 1887 he returned to England, and was appointed engineer in charge of the No. 1 section of the Manchester Ship Canal, including construction of entrance locks, estuary banks and heavy piling work.

After a short period of private engineering practice, he was appointed Engineer-in-Chief of the London and India Docks Joint Committee.  He held this position for almost five years, after which time he was appointed Deputy Director-General of Ordnance Factories, Woolwich, under Sir William Anderson.

Anderson died the following year, and Donaldson was temporarily in charge of the Royal Ordnance Factories.  He was appointed Chief Mechanical Engineer in 1899, the following year.  In 1903 he became Chief Superintendent of the Royal Ordnance Factories.  In 1915, at the request of Lloyd George, he temporarily gave up his position in order to act as Technical Advisor to the Ministry of Munitions.  He frequently accompanied the Minister of Munitions on visits throughout the country, and it was in this capacity that, in 1916, he was visiting Russia in the staff of Lord Kitchener, when the boat on which he was travelling, the H M S Hampshire, hit a mine recently laid by a German U Boat, sank off the Orkney Islands.

  • 1915-1916: Professor William Cawthorne Unwin

Professor William Cawthorne Unwin (1838-1933)

Professor William Cawthorne Unwin was born in Coggeshall, Essex, in 1838.  He was educated at the City of London School and New College, St. John’s Wood.  He served his pupilage with Sir William Fairbairn from 1854 to 1861, and during this time attended the University of London in the evenings, graduating with a BSc in 1861.

At the age of 23 he became works manager for Williamson and Brothers of Kendal.  After six years, he was appointed Instructor in the Royal School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, South Kensington.  He was then appointed Chair of Hydraulic Engineering at the Royal Indian Engineering College, Cooper’s Hill, and in 1884 became the first Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the City and Guilds of London Central Technical College, South Kensington.  He was widely acknowledged as a leading authority on technical education.

One of his interesting activities was his work as Secretary of the International Commission on the Utilization of the Niagara Falls, which was formed in 1890 under the chairmanship of Lord Kelvin.  He was concerned with thorough investigations in different countries on hydraulic and electrical developments, and played an important part in the selection of the Niagara plant.

He was a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1886, and served on its Council in 1894.  He was President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1911.  He was President of the Engineering Section of the British Association in 1892 and served for lengthy periods on the Senate of the University of London on the main Committee of the British Engineering Standards Association, and, during the First World War, on the Metropolitan Munitions Committee Management Board.

He died on 17 March 1933, at the age of 95.

  • 1917-1918: Michael Longridge

Michael Longridge (1847-1928)

Michael Longridge was born into a family of engineers, and was educated at Radley College and Trinity College, Cambridge.  He then worked with his father on railway location and construction on the Continent.  He superintended the design and construction of permanent-way materials, bridges, and rolling stock for the Swedish Central Railway and the Oxelösund Fleur Railway.

In 1875, at the age of 28 years, he joined his uncle at the Boiler Insurance and Steam Power Company, where he remained for the rest of his career.  He was chief mechanical engineer at the company for fifty years.  During that time he carried out research which was of great importance in the improvement of the efficiency of the steam engine as a prime-mover.

He received the CBE for his war work, as well as acting as President during this time, in 1917 and 1918.  He died in 1928.

  • 1919: Edward Hopkinson

Edward Hopkinson (1859-1922)

Edward Hopkinson was born in Manchester in May 1859, into a family of engineers.  He was educated at Owens College and Emmanuel College, Cambridge.  In 1881 he was awarded a first-class honours in the mathematical tripos, scoring the tenth highest mark.  In the same year he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science from the University of London.  In 1883 he was elected Fellow of his College.

He was personal scientific assistant to Sir William Siemens, and therefore gained early practical experience of the electrification of railways.  His first employment in this area was the electrification of the railway from Bessbrook to Newry, which supplied flax from the wharves to the mills.  It was opened for traffic in 1885, and was supplied with electricity from a hydroelectric station.  The machinery in the power station was manufactured by Mather and Platt, whose electrical department was run by Hopkinson.

He continued to work for Mather and Platt for the rest of his career.  He was made a partner, and when the firm became a limited company, he became managing director.  He was appointed vice chairman in 1899. He was also a keen mountaineer.

He served as President in 1919.  He died on 15 January 1922.

  • 1920-1921: Captain Matthew Henry Phineas Riall Sankey

Captain Matthew Henry Phineas Riall Sankey was born at Nenagh, Ireland on 9 November 1853.  He went to school in Switzerland, then attended Mr. Rippon’s School at Woolwich, and the Royal Military Academy.  In 1873 he received a commission in the Royal Engineers, and started the required course at the School of Military Engineering, Chatham.  As he reached the end of his training, he was one of the Royal Engineer officers selected for employment by the Royal Commission on Railway Accidents in connection with the important series of Continuous Brake Experiments carried out in 1876.  Later that year he was engaged in the War Department drawing office on the design of barracks.

In 1879 he was appointed Instructor in Fortification at the Royal Military College, Kingston, Canada.  After three years service there he returned to England to take up a position at the Ordnance Survey Establishment at Southampton.

In 1899 he retired from the Service and joined the board of Willans and Robinson Ltd., engineers.  Five years later he commenced practice as a consulting engineer.  Later he became a director and consulting engineer of Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company, Ltd, and the Marconi International Marine Communications Co. Ltd.  He held these positions until the end of his life.

During the First World War, Captain Sankey volunteered his services, and was appointed Staff-Captain in the department of the Director of Fortifications and Works at the War Office.  He paid personal visits to the front in 1915 and 1918.

He was President of the IMechE in 1920 and 1921.  He was also a member of the Governing Board of the National Physical Laboratory.

  • 1922: Henry Selby Hele-Shaw

Henry Selby Hele-Shaw (1854-1941)

Henry Selby Hele-Shaw was born in Billericay, Essex, in 1854.  He was educated privately, and at the age of 17 he was articled to firm of Roach and Leaker at the Mardyke Engineering Works, Bristol.  After completing his apprenticeship in 1876 he gained the Senior Whitworth Scholarship, which enabled him to study at the University of Bristol.  He also gained various Whitworth Prizes during the course of his study, which helped him become appointed assistant to the Professor of mathematics and engineering.

He was promoted to be first professor of engineering at the University of Bristol in 1880, but left four years later to take up the Harrison Chair as first professor of engineering at Liverpool University College.  He worked hard to set up the engineering faculty on a more permanent basis, and was instrumental in setting up and equipping the Walker Engineering Laboratories.

It was in Liverpool that he carried out his famous experiments in the streamline flow of liquids, based on investigations of liquid flow between parallel glass plates.  In 1899 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for this work.

Shortly after relinquishing his position at the University of Liverpool in order to spend more time on consulting work, and the development of his own inventions, he began to devote his attention to mechanically propelled vehicles.  In 1897 he organized a series of trials for heavy commercial vehicles for the Liverpool Automobile Club.  He was a founding member of the Royal Automobile Club.

In 1903, Hele-Shaw was appointed the first Professor of Civil, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at the Transvaal Technical Institute.  He became the Principal of the Institute the following year.  In 1905, he was appointed Organizer of Technical Education.  Two years later he returned to England to return to consultancy work.

He was elected President of the IMechE in 1922.  One of the most important events during his Presidency was the establishment of the Student class of members, and the foundation of the Whitworth Society, of which Hele-Shaw became the first President.  He considered that his most important service was the establishment of the National Certificates in Mechanical Engineering, in conjunction with the Board of Education.  These National Certificates became a pattern for similar schemes in other branches of technology and commerce, and in Northern Ireland and Scotland.  Hele-Shaw became the first chairman of the Joint Committee appointed by the Board and the Institution to administer the scheme, and held this position until 1937.

Hele-Shaw continued to work on his own inventions almost to the end of his life.  One of the most significant was the variable-pitch airscrew, in which the inclination of the blades could be varied to assist an aeroplane when quick starting and climbing in needed.  The inclination of the blades can be reduced for economical cruising at high speed.  This invention was acquired by the Government, and in October 1940, after the Battle of Britain, Dr. Hele-Shaw received commendation on the material way in which his variable-pitch airscrew had contributed to the British success in the aerial war.

Dr. Hele-Shaw died on 30 January 1941.

  • 1923: Sir John Dewrance

Sir John Dewrance (1858-1937)

Sir John Dewrance was born in Peckham in 1858.  His father was associated with George Stephenson, and was the erector of the Rocket.  He later became locomotive superintendent of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.  He went into partnership with Joseph Woods, brother of the engineer of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, who had founded an engineering company in London.

Sir John was educated at Charterhouse and at King’s College, London.  In 1879 he took over his father’s firm, and a year later took control of the research laboratory and staff of Professor Barff.  This establishment was later known as the Albion Chemical Works.

Sir John took part in a great deal of research, particularly investigating lubrication, metallurgy and corrosion.  He served as Chairman of the Alloys Research Committee, Research Advisory Committee, Cutting Tools Research Committee as well as the Finance and House Committee of the IMechE.

In 1899, Dewrance was elected chairman of Babcock and Wilcox, which position he held until his retirement on July 1937.  He took out over 100 patents, mostly relating to improvements in boiler mountings and steam fittings.

During the First World War he was engaged on Government contracts, and he served on various committees of the Ministry of Munitions, the Ministry of Labour and the Treasury.

He was President of the IMechE in 1923.  He also served as President of the Engineering and Allied Employers’ National Federation from 1920 to 1926, and President of the Institute of Metals in 1926.  He was an Honorary Member of the Institution of Royal Engineers, and was made an Honorary Life Member of the IMechE in 1931.  He was also appointed to the General Board of the National Physical Laboratory, and to the Engineering Research Board.  In 1923 he was Master of the Armourers’ and Braziers’ Company.

He died on 7 October 1937.

  • 1924: William Henry Patchell

William Henry Patchell (1862-1932)

William Henry Patchell was born in Lincolnshire in 1862.  He served a five-year apprenticeship with Robey and Company.  In 1881 he was sent to take charge of seven compound Robey steam engines which were being exhibited at the Paris Exhibition.  He later became their representative in Spain, and was responsible for the installation of electric lighting plant at Barcelona, Cordova, Madrid and Valencia.

In 1886 he was appointed manager of the Millwall Works of the Electrical Power Storage Company, and was involved with the development of public and private electric supply plant.  In 1893 he was appointed engineer-in-chief of the Charing Cross and Strand Electric Supply Company and was responsible for the design and construction of the new works at Lambeth, which opened in 1896.  He was also responsible for the design of the new station at Bow in 1902.

In 1906, he resigned and established a consulting engineering practice, specializing in electric generation and the electrification of mines.  He was appointed a member of the Home Office Committee on Electricity in mines in 1904.

He was President of the IMechE from 1924-1925, and had served on Council and many important committees for twenty-two years at the time of his death.  He was largely responsible for the inauguration of Local Branches.  He died at the age of 70 years on 24 November 1932.

  • 1925: Sir Vincent Litchfield Raven

Sir Vincent Litchfield Raven (1858-1934)

Sir Vincent Litchfield Raven was born in 1858 at Great Fransham Rectory, Norfolk.  In 1877 he began a three year apprenticeship at the Gateshead works of the North Eastern Railway.  In 1880 he entered the drawing office, and he was then employed for five years on firing and inspector’s duties.  He became a divisional locomotive superintendent in 1888.  He was promoted in 1894 to divisional locomotive superintendent, and chief assistant mechanical engineer in 1903.  Seven years later he became chief mechanical engineer.

During the First World War, he was appointed Chief Superintendent of the Royal Arsenal Factories, Woolwich.  In 1917 he was created a Knight Bachelor for his services.  Following the war he returned to the North Eastern Railway.  He remained chief mechanical engineer until it merged with the London and North Eastern Railway in 1923.  He then retired, but continued to act as technical advisor to the LNER.

After his retirement he travelled to New South Wales and New Zealand to investigate the working of the State railways.  In 1925 he was appointed chairman of a committee of experts reporting on Indian railway workshop organization.

He died at Felixstowe on 14 February 1934.

  • 1926: Sir William Reavell

Sir William Reavell (1866-1948)

Sir William Reavell was born near Capel, in Surrey, on 2 March 1866.  His family moved to Alnwick, Northumberland, where he attended the Grammar School.  In 1882, he was apprenticed to Hawthorn, Leslie and Co. Ltd. at their St Peter’s Works, Newcastle upon Tyne.  He remained there for seven years, spending the last two years in the marine engine drawing office.  At the same time he was attending evening classes at the Armstrong College.

In 1889, he came to London and joined the firm of Maudlsey, Sons and Field, as a draughtsman.  At the same time, he continued his studies at Birkbeck Institute, and the City and Guilds Technical College, Finsbury.  Two years later he joined Babcock and Wilcox as a draughtsman in their marine department.  He soon became manager of the marine department.

In 1897 he left to became general manager of the Lambeth works of Peter Brotherhood and Co. Ltd., but he soon decided to branch out on his own, and went into partnership with his brother-in-law, W. H. Scott, C. Gaskell and others.  A works site was purchased in Ipswich.

Reavell and Company Ltd.’s first venture was the ‘Scott’ steam engine, which was very successful, prior to the advent of the high-speed, forced-lubrication engine.  The company made its name with the Quadruplex Air Compressor, which Reavell had patented in 1899.  The company progressed, building new air compressors as the technology developed.  In 1905, they began building three-stage air compressors for direct coupling to the early Diesel engines.  They were soon supplying large numbers of compressors for land and marine installations, and for marine propulsion.

Reavell was interested in the work of the British Standards Institution from its early days.  He was Chairman of the Keys and Keyways Committee.  He became Chairman of the Mechanical Industry Committee in 1920, and stayed in this position until 1944.  He was Chairman of the Engineering Divisional Council for several years, and Chairman of the General Council in 1936.
He died on 25 April 1948.

  • 1927: Sir Henry Fowler

Sir Henry Fowler (1870-1938)

Sir Henry Fowler was born in Evesham in 1870.  He studied at Mason Science College, Birmingham from 1885 to 1887.  He then commenced his apprenticeship at the Horwich Works of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.  He served in the shops until 1891 when he obtained a Whitworth Exhibition and was transferred to the test room.  Three years later he became chief inspector of materials and in the following year he was appointed gas manager to the company.

Around this time he became interested in automobiles, and was associated with important motor-car trials at Crystal Palace in 1897.  In 1900 he was appointed gas engineer to the Midland Railway, and was later assistant works manager and works manager at Derby.

During the First World War he was appointed Director of Production to the Ministry of Munitions in 1915, and Assistant Director-General of Aircraft Production in 1917.  In 1918 he went to America and Canada as Chairman of the first Inter-Allied Conference on the Standardization of Aircraft Components.

On the incorporation of the Midland Railway in 1923 into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, he was made deputy chief mechanical engineer, and two years later he was made chief mechanical engineer.  He was responsible for the design of the Royal Scot class of 4-6-0 locomotives in 1927, and for an experimental modification of the design in 1930 to accommodate a Schmidt high-pressure boiler.  The following year, Sir Henry was appointed assistant to the vice-president for research and development.

He was President of the IMechE in 1927.  He was President of the Engineering Section of the British Association in 1923, and President of the Institute of Metals in 1932.  He acted as joint general secretary of the International Railway Congress Association in 1925.  He died on 16 October 1938.

  • 1928: Sir Richard William Allen

Sir Richard William Allen (1867-1955)

Richard William Allen was born in Cardiff in 1867.  He was educated at Christ College, Finchley, and received his technical education privately.  He was apprenticed for four years at the firm of his father, William Henry Allen.  At the works in Lambeth, he spent time in the pattern shops, foundry, turnery, erecting shop and drawing office.

After completing his education he spent time as a draughtsman with John Elder and Co., Glasgow, and with the Naval Construction and Armaments Co., Barrow in Furness.  After visiting the United States in 1890, he returned to W. H. Allen and Co. as Assistant Manager.  In 1894, when the company’s works were transferred to Bedford, he became a partner and subsequently Managing Director.  In 1926, on the death of his father, he became Chairman.

He was mainly concerned with the design and construction of auxiliary machinery for naval and mercantile marine vessels, but was also interested in a wide variety of engineering projects on land.

He received the CBE in 1918 and was knighted in 1942.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1928.  He died in 1955.

  • 1929: Daniel Adamson

Dr Daniel Adamson (1869-1930)

Dr Daniel Adamson was born in Hyde in 1869.  He began an apprenticeship at the age of 16, attending evening classes at the Manchester School of Technology at the same time.  His apprenticeship was divided between the works of Scott and Hodgson of Guide Bridge and Joseph Adamson and Company of Hyde, which had been founded by his father in 1874.

In 1893 he was promoted to works manager, and in 1904 he and his brother Harold entered into partnership with their father.  In 1925 Daniel became sole proprietor of the firm.

Adamson was a pioneer in the development of the electric crane.  After a visit to the United States in 1893, the firm commenced the building of electric cranes by constructing one of the first three-motor overhead cranes in the country.

He died in 1930.

  • 1930: Loughnan St. Lawrence Pendred

Loughnan St. Lawrence Pendred (1870-1953)

Loughnan St. L Pendred was born in London in 1870.  He was educated privately, and received his technical education at the Central Institution, South Kensington, and Finsbury Technical College.  He served an apprenticeship with Davey Paxman and Company of Colchester.

He then travelled in Europe, spending time at the works of Van den Kerchove, Ghent, and the old Chemin de Fer de L’Ouest in France.  He returned to England in 1893.

In 1896, Pendred joined the editorial staff of the Engineer, where his father, Vaughan Pendred, was editor-in-chief.  In 1905 he succeeded his father as editor-in-chief, and remained in this position for over 40 years.  He was succeeded in 1946 by his son.

During the First World War, at the request of the Government, Pendred edited the Ministry of Munitions Journal.  He was awarded the CBE in 1934.

Pendred was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1930, and was made an Honorary Member in 1934.  He was also President of the Institution of Engineers-in-Charge.  He was a founder member of the Newcomen Society, and served as President of the Society in 1923 and 1930.  He died in 1953.

  • 1931: Lt. Colonel Edwin Kitson Clark

Lt. Colonel Edwin Kitson Clark (1866-1943)

Lt. Colonel E. Kitson Clark was born in 1866.  He attended Sutton Valence Grammar School, moving to Shrewsbury in 1882.  He then attended Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in 1888.

He then began his engineering education with a three year apprenticeship at the Airedale Foundry of Kitson and Co., the company which had been founded by his grandfather, James Kitson, in 1837.  In 1891 he was made assistant works manager. He was later appointed works manager, and in 1897 he was made a partner in the firm.  When the firm became a limited company, he became a director, and later Chairman.

He was associated with several major developments, including the Kitson-Meyer articulated locomotive for steep gradients and sharp curves, and the Kitson-Still locomotive, in which steam and Diesel propulsion were combined.

Besides his engineering career, he was also a second lieutenant in the 8th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment (Leeds Rifles), and served in the West Riding Territorial Army and Air Force Association from its inception.  He also played an important role in the establishment of Leeds University Officer Training Corps.  During the First World War, he was on active service.  From 1913 to 1915 he was the Commanding Officer of the 8th Battalion, and from 1915-1918 he was in charge of the 49th Base Depot in France.

Kitson-Clark was also keenly interested in archaeology and, unusually for an engineer, was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquities.  He was President of Leeds Thoresby (antiquarian) Society, and of the Leeds Civic Society.  For over thirty years he was secretary of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society.  He also took a keen interest in Leeds Parish Church, and was an authority on its history.

He played an important role in the history of the IMechE.  In 1921 he took a leading role in the formation of the Yorkshire Branch, becoming its first chairman.  He was President in 1931.  In 1935, he was elected an Honorary Life Member.  He was also President of the Institution of Locomotive Engineers in 1921-1922.

He died aged 77 on 31 March 1943.

  • 1932: William Taylor

William Taylor (1865-1937)

William Taylor was born in Hackney in 1865.  He served his apprenticeship from 1880 to 1885 with Paterson and Cooper, electrical engineers and scientific instrument makers.  He also studied electrical engineering at the City and Guilds of London Technical College at Finsbury.

After further experience with Paterson and Cooper, mainly in the design and installation of electric lighting plants, he joined his brother, an optician, in Leicester.  They founded the company of Taylor, Taylor and Hobson in 1886.  William’s intention had always been to apply mechanical engineering principles to the different processes involved in making lenses.  He made a comprehensive study of these methods, and embodied the results in production machines of his own design.  Some of his earliest inventions were related to engraving machines and appliances for the mathematical division of lines and circles.  His most important work was relating to the screw thread.  He was made a member of the Engineering Standards Committee on screw threads and limit gauges and of the British Association Small Screw Gauge Committee.

During the First World War, Taylor designed machines for the accurate polishing of lenses, and made it possible to produce large numbers of such lenses for binoculars.  He also devised new methods of lens manufacture for aerial photography, and produced lenses for range finders, gun sights, and telescopes.  He was awarded the OBE for his services.  After the war he was responsible for the manufacture of special photographic lenses for cinematograph cameras.  He was known as an expert in the field, and was often consulted on photographic problems.

He served on the Council of the National Physical Laboratory and on the Sectional Committees on Optical Instruments and Optical Instrument Standards of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.  He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1934.

He was President of the IMechE in 1932 and was made an Honorary Life Member in 1936.

 

  • 1933: Alan Ernest Leofric Chorlton

Alan Ernest Leofric Chorlton CBE (1874-1946)

Alan E L Chorlton CBE was born at Audenshaw, near Manchester, in 1874.  He attended a private school, and then entered the Manchester Technical School, in the Mechanical Engineering Department.  He began an apprenticeship at the Salford Iron Works of Mather and Platt Ltd.  As well as the usual turning and fitting shop experience, he also worked in the foundry and smithy.  At the same time he attended part-time at the Victoria University.

He was for years a member of the team of one of the major Manchester rugby clubs, and was selected for the Lancashire team.

At 24 he was sent to report on the engineering side of Hubbard’s works near St Petersburg, which was at the time the largest textile printing works in the world.  He was then employed to implement the changes recommended, resulting in a fuel economy of 30 per cent, as well as greater reliability.

On his return he was made assistant works manager of Salford Iron Works, becoming general works manager at 28 years old.  Four years later he was made director.  While in Russia his attention was drawn to the high efficiency of the Sulzer turbine pump, and on his return he took a leading part in the remodelling of the Mather-Reynolds pump then being made by the firm.

In 1913, he left to join Ruston and Hornsby Ltd., of Lincoln, Grantham and Stockport, taking a prominent part during the First World War in the extension of their activities.  He was appointed Deputy Controller of Aero-engines in the Ministry of Munitions, and was a member of the Board of Inventions.  After the end of the war he was on the Bankers’ Committee, and a member of the reconstruction committees.  He was awarded the CBE for his services throughout the war.

From 1918 to 1928 he worked with William Beardmore and Co. Ltd.  During this time he introduced the high-speed Diesel engine to the country, designing engines for rail-cars in the US and Canada, and which were also fitted on the R101 airship.

On retirement from William Beardmore and Co. Ltd., Chorlton went into politics, representing the Platting Division from 1931, and Bury up to 1945, when he retired.

He died in 1946.

  • 1934: Charles Day

Charles Day (1867-1949)

Charles Day was born at Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, in 1867.  He was educated at the Stockport Grammar School, and later attended the Manchester Technical School.  At the age of 18 he received a Whitworth Scholarship, and attended further evening classes in electrical engineering, and a summer evening course at Owens College in industrial chemistry.  He served an apprenticeship in engineering with Emerson Murgatroyd and Co., Stockport, and J and H Andrew and Co., makers of the ‘Stockport’ gas engine.

At 23 he was appointed chief draughtsman at the boiler works of Joseph Adamson and Co., Ltd., Hyde.  Later he moved to the National Boiler Insurance Company Ltd., where he started a branch for dealing with the insurance of steam engines.  Whilst with this company, Day wrote articles for The Practical Engineer on the subject of ‘The Testing of Engines and Boilers’, and also a book on ‘Indicator Diagrams’.

His work on engine testing brought him into contact with Cole Marchent and Morley Ltd., Bradford, who had taken up the manufacture of Corliss-type steam engines.  He joined that firm as manager in 1895.  In 1899 he visited the United States, where the horizontal Corliss-type steam engine had been widely adopted for direct-driven dynamos used to supply current to tramways.

In 1902 he joined the Mirrlees Watson Company, Ltd., Glasgow, as general manager.  This company had acquired Diesel’s patents and designs, and an engine had been built in 1897 and officially tested by Professor Watkinson of the Liverpool University.  This was the first Diesel engine built in Britain, and the third in the world.  Owing to technical difficulties, the project had been abandoned, but Day visited Augsburg to study the developments that had been made in Germany, and work recommenced.  A number of improvements were introduced, and two additional engines were produced to the latest drawings.  A Diesel engine department was established.  In 1905, engines were supplied to the Admiralty for HMS Dreadnought.  These engines, running at 400 rpm, were the earliest high-speed Diesels.  At the same time a lighter engine was also supplied to pinnace propulsion.  By 1906 the Diesel engine business had developed to such an extent that it was necessary to expand, and in 1907 a new company was formed at Stockport for the manufacture of Mirrlees Diesel engines, in a newly built and equipped works.  This company was set up in association with HN Bickerton, and was named Mirrlees Bickerton and Day, Ltd.  In 1926 the two companies amalgamated, and Day became managing director, later chairman, of both companies.  He resigned in 1946, at the age of 79, but continued as a director, and still took an active part in the business until his death.

During the First World War, Day served on the Lancashire Anti-submarine Committee, which included many prominent Lancashire engineers and scientists, and pioneered submarine detection.  He was also a leading member of the Associated Group of Tank Engine Builders, which carried out valuable work in connection with the development and construction of tank engines during the war.  The group was composed of the principal firms of engine builders in the Manchester area.

In the Second World War he was intensively engaged in the organization of production to deal with the heavy demands for Diesel engines for war service, aircraft parts, guns, and also the ‘Imo-oil’ pumps for submarines, etc.

As a young man, Day was a keen swimmer, being Captain of the Stockport Swimming Club.  He also attended the Lads’ Club where he practiced boxing and other sports.  He was a member of the Stockport Golf Club for many years, and a Life Member and joint founder of the West Bowling Golf Club, Bradford.  He was fond of gardening and was a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and he was later elected an Honorary Life Member.  He died on 18th June 1949, at the age of 82.

  • 1935: Major General Alexander Elliot Davidson

Major General Alexander Elliot Davidson (1880-1962)

Major General A E Davidson was born in 1880.  He was educated at Blackheath School, and later attended the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.

He entered the Royal Engineers in 1899, and rose steadily through the ranks of the army, serving in both the South African War and the First World War.  He was associated with mechanized warfare, and was one of the pioneers of mechanical transport in the army.  He commanded one of the first sections of mechanical transport in Kimberley, South Africa, in 1902.

In 1910, he was secretary to the Mechanical Transport Commission and took part in the preparations for and expansion of mechanical transport in the run up to the First World War.  From 1927 to 1931 he was Chairman of the Mechanical Warfare Board.  This period was of great importance for the design and development of tanks, although such research was underfunded.  In 1936, Davidson was appointed Director of Mechanization.  He retired from the army in 1940.

He was President of the IMechE in 1935, and was later made an Honorary Member.

  • 1936: Sir Herbert Nigel Gresley CBE

Sir Herbert Nigel Gresley CBE (1876-1941)

Sir Nigel Gresley was born in 1876 in Edinburgh.  He was educated at Marlborough.  He served a premium apprenticeship at the Crewe works of the London and North Western Railway.  In 1898 he joined the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway, where he was apprenticed at Horwich.  After his apprenticeship he was put in charge of the test room.

In 1901 he became Assistant Works Manager at Newton Heath Carriage Works.  The following year he was made manager.  After a series of positions at the Lancashire and Yorkshire, he moved to the Great Northern Railway, where in 1905 he was appointed Carriage and Wagon Superintendent at Doncaster.  In 1911, when H A Ivatt retired, Gresley was appointed Locomotive Engineer at Doncaster.  The following year the position was renamed Chief Mechanical Engineer.  In 1923, with the Grouping of the railway companies, Gresley was made chief mechanical engineer of the newly formed London and North Eastern Railway.

Gresley’s first original locomotive design was a two cylinder 2-6-0 engine, which was built in 1912.  He continued to develop his designs over the years, and in 1922 completed the first of the famous three cylinder 4-6-2 Pacific engines.  Many Pacifics were constructed at the London and North Eastern Railway’s centres at Darlington and Doncaster.  These were constantly improved with modifications such as increased boiler pressures and a higher degree of superheat.

In 1925, Gresley introduced the Mikado, a 2-8-2 locomotive for heavy freight traffic.  He adopted the design nine years later for the Cock o’ the North, a larger wheeled engine for heavy express work.   In 1935, the Silver Link locomotive was built.  It was a streamlined Pacific, and it was put to work on a completely streamlined train, the first in the United Kingdom, known as the Silver Jubilee.  It made the daily journey from London to Darlington, a distance of 232 miles, in three hours eighteen minutes, without a stop.  In 1937, another streamlined train was introduced on the 393 mile journey from London to Edinburgh, completing the journey in six hours.  His streamlined 4-6-2 engine No. 4468, Mallard, broke the record for the highest speed ever reached by a train in the UK, maintaining 120mph for five miles, with a short burst at 125 mph.

As well as his pioneering locomotive designs, another major achievement was the establishment of a locomotive testing station in the UK.  He had long believed this to be of great importance to locomotive engineering in the country, and his efforts resulted in a national testing centre being constructed jointly by the London and North Eastern and the London, Midland and Scottish Railways, at Rugby.  Work had commenced in 1937, but was postponed on the outbreak of war; unfortunately Gresley did not live to see its completion.

Gresley’s work during the First World War, to reorganise Doncaster works for the production of munitions, was rewarded with a CBE in 1920.  He received a knighthood in 1937.  He also served on several Government appointed committees, including those considering automatic train control and the electrification of railways.  He was President of the IMechE in 1935, and was twice President of the Institution of Locomotive Engineers, in 1927-1928 and 1934-1935.

Gresley died in 1941 at the age of 65.

  • 1937: Sir John Edward Thornycroft

Sir John Edward Thornycroft (1872-1960)

Sir John Edward Thornycroft was born in Chiswick 1872. He was educated at St Paul’s School and gained his engineering training at the Central Technical College.

He was the eldest son of Sir John I Thornycroft, the founder of the Thornycroft Shipyard at Chiswick. On completing his technical training he joined his father’s shipyard working on construction. He achieved the position of managing director in 1901.

The main interest of the family business after 1901 was the development of the torpedo boat destroyer. Thornycroft’s design and construction work during the First World War led to a knighthood which was conferred in 1918.

Aside from ship design, the business also developed road vehicles, including the steam wagon and oil engine tractor. Thornycroft’s diverse engineering interests led him to gain Presidential positions with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1937 and the Institution of Civil Engineers.

  • 1938: David Evan Roberts

David Evan Roberts (1867-1950)

David E Roberts was born in 1867 in Merthyr Tydfil, where his father was manger of the Plymouth Ironworks.  He was educated at Christ’s College, Brecon, then apprentices to the engineering department of the Rhymney Iron Company.  He soon became their chief draughtsman.

He returned to Merthyr Tydfil to become assistant engineer of the steelworks section of the Dowlais Iron Company, and was soon promoted to engineer of the department.  In 1902 he became chief engineer of the Dowlais Iron Company, but soon left.  He went to Cardiff where he set up as a consultant on ironworks and steelworks practice.

This period was a time of great change and progress in the technology and practice of iron smelting and steel making.  Roberts soon built up a world-wide clientele, working in many parts of the world and acquiring a reputation as an expert in his area.

During the First World War Roberts was attached to the iron and steel department of the Ministry of Munitions, particularly involved with the control of the Cardiff National Shell Factory.

Roberts was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1938.  He also served as President of the South Wales Institute of Engineers.  He died in 1950.

  • 1939: Edmund Bruce Ball

Edmund Bruce Ball (1873-1944)

Edmund Bruce Ball was born in 1873 in Norfolk. He showed an early talent for engineering, apprenticing at Charles Burrell and Co in Thetford. This talent was rewarded with two science scholarships, a Whitworth Exhibition and the Queen’s Prizeman for Science. The scholarships ensured he was able to complete his technical training at the Manchester School of Technology.

Practical engineering experience followed as a draughtsman with Benjamin Goodfellow and Co. He soon progressed to the position of works manager with Reavell and Co and then Clarkson Ltd. His specialist subject was hydraulic engineering, in particular the storage and distribution of water.

Ball’s experience took him overseas to Italy and then China. On his return he took the position of works manager at D Napier and Son, Acton. His last position was as Managing Director with Glenfield and Kennedy Ltd, which also gave him management of British Pitometer and Hydrautomat Ltd.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1939 and was also made an Honorary Life Member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

  • 1940: Asa Binns

Asa Binns (1873-unknown)

Asa Binns was born in Keighley in 1873 and was educated at Keighley Grammar School and Leeds University. He was awarded a Whitworth exhibition in 1896.

Practical training followed at engineering works in Leeds and Bradford but it was an appointment to the civil engineering department of the Admiralty at the Hull docks of the North-Eastern Railway that was to set the path for the rest of his working life.

The training he received with the Admiralty led to an appointment with the London and India Docks Company, later the Port of London Authority. Through his talent and determination he achieved the position of chief engineer in 1928 and stayed with the authority until his retirement in 1938.

His main interest was dock construction and he worked on the George V Dock at North Woolwich and the Royal Albert Dock.

He was President of the IMechE in 1940 and of the Institution of Engineers-in-Charge from 1936-37.

  • 1941: Sir William Arthur Stanier

Sir William Arthur Stanier (1876-1965)

Sir William Stanier was born in 1876, the son of a Great Western Railway Stores Superintendent. It was at the GWR works at Swindon that Stanier gained an engineering apprenticeship and experience of locomotive engineering.

He stayed with the GWR for forty years progressing from the drawing office to a position as Principal Assistant to the Chief Mechanical Engineer. During this time he acquired technical and managerial expertise and a reputation for integrity and leadership.

The pinnacle of his career was achieved with the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. He was appointed Chief Mechanical Engineer in 1932 and was tasked with improving rolling stock. In 1933 he introduced the Coronation Pacific, followed by the Jubilee and a mixed-traffic locomotive series the Black Class Fives. His locomotives were reliable and pioneering.

He was President of the Institution of Locomotive Engineers in 1936-7 and 1938-9 and became President of the IMechE in 1941. Further distinctions followed with a knighthood conferred in 1943 and a Fellowship of the Royal Society.

He died in 1965.

  • 1942: Colonel S J Thompson

Colonel S J Thompson (1875-1955)

Colonel S J Thompson was born in Wolverhampton in 1875 and obtained his early training as a mechanical engineer as an apprentice in the Ettingshall boiler works. He gained experience in the shops and drawing office and on completion of his apprenticeship he became assistant works manager, progressing to a partnership in 1901.
He founded the firm of John Thompson Ltd and associated companies, taking up the position of Governing Director in 1938. His companies manufactured steam boilers, motor body frames, water softeners and steel window frames. Thompson initiated many developments in modern power plant processes and in addition to his technical expertise was noted for his humanistic attitude towards his employees.

During the First World War he served as a Battery Commander in the Royal Artillery and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. He also held notable offices in public life, including High Sheriff and later Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Staffordshire. His involvement with the IMechE led to the formation of the Midland Branch in Birmingham in 1923. He was elected a Member of Council in 1925 and became President in 1942. An interest in engineering history led him to gift a collection of George Stephenson artefacts which are held in the archives.

Colonel Stephen John Thompson died in 1955.

  • 1943: Frederick Charles Lea

Frederick Charles Lea (1871-1952)

Frederick Lea was born in 1871 and was educated at Owens College in Manchester. He undertook his engineering education at the Royal College of Science, London and displayed such an aptitude for engineering that he was both a Whitworth Exhibitioner and a Whitworth Scholar. In later years he was to serve as President of the Whitworth Society. His career began in the field of railway engineering, serving as an apprentice with the London and North Western Railway at Crewe. He progressed to an appointment as assistant in the civil engineering department.

However, in 1900 a keen interest in engineering education led to an appointment as chief assistant to Professor W C Unwin at the City and Guilds Engineering College in South Kensington, London. This experience resulted in a position as an engineering inspector with the Board of Education, but Lea returned to full-time academia as Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Birmingham in 1913.

He had spent a year in the post when the First World War broke out and he served as an honorary lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and as a captain in the Royal Air Force.

At the close of the war he returned to the University of Birmingham and spent the rest of his career in education. He retired from the chair of mechanical engineering at Sheffield University in 1936. Throughout his academic career he worked across a wide range of fields but his specialisms were hydraulics, metals properties and structures. He was the recipient of a number of awards, including the Telford Prize, the Crampton Prize, the Concrete Institute medal and the T Bernard Hall Prize.

Lea became President of the IMechE in 1943 and was a popular member of the Yorkshire Branch, serving as Chairman. He was also an Honorary Fellow of Imperial College, a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and a member of the Institution of Structural Engineers. He was made an OBE in recognition of his aeronautical work. He died in 1952.

  • 1944: Sir Harry Ricardo

Sir Harry Ricardo (1885-1974)
Harry Ralph Ricardo was born in 1885, the year of Karl Benz’s first single-cylinder petrol engine vehicle.  The evolution of this primitive piece of engineering, capable of a maximum of 8mph, to machines capable of far in excess of 2500hp was to be Ricardo’s life work.   His interest in automobiles dates from the moment he drove his first car, a 3.5hp Benz dog cart, as a schoolboy of 13.

Ricardo completed his education at Trinity College, Cambridge.  He was taught by Bertram Hopkinson (1874-1918), and also conducted engine research for him.  Ricardo’s mix of practical expertise and acute experimental observation gave him a formidable knowledge of subjects such as engine knock and pre-ignition, which were then fairly obscure.  In 1908 he founded a business, the Two Stroke Engine Company.  The firm exploited Ricardo’s first patented engine, the Dolphin, which was used in fishing boats and automobiles.

The Dolphin was a relatively short-lived venture.  By 1914, Ricardo was touring works in America and Europe in preparation for a senior mechanical post in the firm Rendel, Palmer and Tritton.  He later became active in promoting new aero engines for the Royal Navy Air Service, leading him to be appointed engineer to the Department of Mechanical Warfare.  Consulted on tank development, Ricardo provided new power plant designs of 150hp, later 225hp, for the British Mark 5 tank.  Ricardo’s engines were manufactured in large numbers from 1917, transforming the tank into an effective battlefield weapon.

Ricardo was awarded royalties of £30,000 by the government in recognition of his work in tank engine development.  He used the money to establish a private centre for research into the internal combustion engine, fulfilling a long-held ambition.  Ricardo had formed Engine Patents Limited in 1915 but it was not until 1919 that its base was moved to the Bridge Works at Shoreham.  The Ricardo Company was named in 1920.

The firm’s earliest contract was for fuel research for the Asiatic (Shell) Petroleum Company.  During the years 191-1921 Ricardo’s compiled an analysis of the quality of commercial fuels to a standard rating – eventually expressed as an ‘octane number’. This was fundamental work.  Ricardo’s team of Sir David Pye (1886-1860) FRS and Sir Henry Tizard (1885-1859) FRS eventually became leading British scientists in their own right.  Another, more practical consequence of Ricardo’s interest in fuel selection was the enabling of Alcock and Brown’s transatlantic flight in 1919.

The publication of Harry Ricardo’s book The internal combustion engine…(1922-1923) established him as the main authority of the inter-war years.  Ricardo’s practical contributions included work on the world’s first diesel passenger car, the Citroen Rosalie, and he enjoyed particular success with the Comet combustion chamber for high-speed diesels from 1931.  Ricardo’s interest in aircraft engines continued and his association with the competing Bristol, Napier and Rolls-Royce companies testify to his unique role in commercial research.

In championing the sleeve valve aeronautical engine during the Second World War, Ricardo remained a true piston-engineer.  This was despite his assistance to Sir Frank Whittle’s development of the jet engine, for which he designed a barometric fuel control system.  The jet would eventually consume Ricardo’s own wartime high performance type, the revolutionary Rolls Royce Crecy engine, tested in 1944 but never flown.

In 1948, Harry Ricardo was knighted.  He had earlier been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (1929) and had served as President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (1944-1945).  Post-war, the Ricardo Company increasingly moved into automotive and commercial vehicle engine research, but also carried out pioneering research in other areas.  For example, British Railways’ foray into diesel-mechanical Fell locomotives, developed in 1948-1951, utilized Paxman-Ricardo prime movers and expertise.

Harry Ricardo retired fully in 1965.  Before his death in 1974 he wrote a full account of his life and times, Memories and machines (1968), an entertaining testimony of what it is to be an engineer.

His company became Ricardo Consulting Engineers in 1970.  The automotive sector remained a company specialization: in the 1970s, for example, Ricardo’s pioneered the use of Stirling engines for passenger cars on behalf of the US Department of Energy.  Additionally, the present company has operations in vehicle engineering, driveline and transmissions and motor sports.  A notable success in Harry Ricardo’s beloved aeronautical field was an engine redesign for Voyager, the first aircraft to fly around the world without refuelling, in 1986.

  • 1945: Professor Andrew Robertson

Professor Andrew Robertson (1883-1970)

Andrew Robertson was born in 1883 in Lancashire, the son of a marine engineer. He was apprenticed in his father’s engineering works gaining a thorough practical training. He showed talent and achieved a place at Manchester University. A first-class honours degree, a Fairbairn engineering prize and a graduate scholarship were the result of his hard work and technical aptitude.

Robertson’s academic skill led to appointments as a demonstrator and tutor at the university. Prior to the First World War he started investigations in to the behaviour of mild steel with his colleague Gilbert Cook. The war took him to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough where he worked on materials testing. He dedicated his time to examining the strength of struts and his findings influenced working practices in the steel industry.

After the war Robertson was appointed Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol. The mechanical engineering faculty was part of the Bristol Merchant Venturers College and in 1924 he was elected Principal of the college and dean of the faculty. In addition to his academic work he acted as a consultant and designer.

He achieved honours from Bristol and Bath universities and continued his research into steel in to the 1920s. In 1940 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society and he became President of the IMechE in 1945.

He died in 1970.

  • 1946: Oliver Vaughan Snell Bulleid

Oliver Vaughan Snell Bulleid (1882-1970)

Oliver Bulleid was born in 1882 in New Zealand but at the age of seven his mother was widowed and the family moved to England. He was educated at Spa College at the Bridge of Allan and then at Accrington Technical School. In 1901 he gained an apprenticeship at the Doncaster works of the Great Northern Railway. He combined his training with furthering his education at Leeds and Sheffield universities.

Bulleid’s apprenticeship led to a life-long interest in railway engineering. At the age of twenty-six he took his new skills abroad, working for the French Westinghouse Company in Paris. However, it was with the Great Northern Railway that Bulleid made his mark, working as personal assistant to Sir Nigel Gresley. His aptitude led to involvement in the design of carriages and wagons.

During the First World War Bulleid served in France and was a Major in the Royal Engineers. After the war he followed Gresley to the London and North Eastern Railway and became involved in the work of the International Railway Congress Association. Bulleid’s opportunity to promote his design ideas came with an appointment as chief mechanical engineer for the Southern Railway. He introduced the ‘Merchant Navy’ Pacific and the ‘Leader’ class of locomotives. He conceived the design of Britain’s only double-deck passenger trains, the 4DD class. Bulleid opposed the nationalization of the railways and was keen to produce steam locomotives that could rival electric or diesel locomotives.

He retired from Southern Railway in 1949 and in February 1950 joined the Coras Iompair Eireann, the Irish state transport system, first as consulting mechanical engineer and then as chief mechanical engineer. He oversaw the introduction of diesel locomotives designed a steam locomotive which burned peat. He retired from Coras Iompair Eireann in 1958.

Bulleid served as President of the IMechE in 1956, and was also President of the Institution of Locomotive Engineers and the Institute of Welding.  He was made a CBE in 1949 and received an honorary DSc from Bath University. He was a member of the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers, a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Goldsmith’s Company. He died in 1970.

  • 1947: Lord Aberdeen, Dudley Gladstone Gordon

Lord Aberdeen, Dudley Gladstone Gordon (1883-1972)

Dudley Gladstone Gordon was born in 1883, the second son of the Marquis of Aberdeen and Temair. He was educated at Harrow and began his engineering training at the shipyard of Hall, Russell and Co. Practical training in the workshop was supplemented with evening classes at the Robert Gordon’s College. Gordon’s career advanced at J and E Hall Ltd; he worked his way up through the company, becoming managing director in 1912 and Chairman in 1937. During the First World War he commanded the 8th/10th battalion of the Gordon Highlanders, receiving the DSO in 1917.

Gordon’s engineering specialization was refrigeration, in particular land type refrigerating installations. In 1929 he gave the Twenty-ninth Thomas Hawksley Lecture at the IMechE entitled “Recent Developments in Refrigeration”. His expertise led to numerous Chairs and Presidencies. He was President of the British Association of Refrigeration, the British Engineers Association and the Federation of British Industries.

At the close of the Second World War he was made Chairman of Hadfields Ltd and assumed directorships with financial institutions, including Barclays Bank and the Phoenix Assurance Company. He became a Member of Council of the IMechE in 1940 and was President in 1947, the Institution’s centenary year. He died in 1972.

  • 1948: Major William Gregson

Major (E) William Gregson (1891-1977)

Major William Gregson was born in 1891, in Blaina, North Monmouthshire.  He attended the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, in Cardiff, and graduated with an MSc.  He then served an apprenticeship at North Blaina, which was later absorbed by the Ebbw Vale Company.  He later gained experience at sea, and in other branches of mechanical engineering.

In the First World War he served with the Royal Engineers.  At one point he was involved with the Channel Ferries.  After the war, in 1920, he joined Spencer-Bonecourt Ltd. as Chief Engineer.  This firm was absorbed into the Babcock and Wilcox Group in 1927.  At this point, Gregson became joint head of the marine department of Babcock and Wilcox, taking sole control at a later date.

He was mainly involved with the development of modern steam plant at sea, including the development of mechanical stoking and oil-firing equipment.

He was also a member of the Founders Company, a Freeman of the City of London, and a Derby Cold Medallist of the Liverpool Engineering Society.  He was a well-known rugby player in his youth.

He died in 1977.

  • 1949: Dr. Herbert John Gough

Dr. Herbert John Gough (1890-1965)

Herbert John Gough was born in Bermondsey, London, in 1890.  He attended the Regent Street Polytechnic Technical School, and won a scholarship to University College School.  For a short while he was a student teacher, but in 1909 he became an apprentice at Vickers, Sons, becoming a designer draughtsman in 1913.  At the same time, he studied at London University, achieving first a BSc in engineering, and later a DSc and PhD.

In 1914, Gough went to work at the National Physical Laboratory, then in Middlesex.  He worked in the engineering department, where he remained until 1938.  He became superintendent of the department in 1930.  During the First World War he served with the Royal Engineers (signals) from 1914 to May 1919, rising to the rank of Captain.  He was mentioned twice in dispatches and was awarded the MBE (military) in 1919.

Gough’s main area of expertise was the study of material fatigue, in particular fatigue failure, which is failure due to repeated application of a load much lower than that necessary to produce failure in a single application.  He made many contributions to knowledge on stress concentrations, the causes of failure, the design of chains, cables, hooks, rings and other lifting appliances, cold pressing and drawing of metals, the stability of thin sheets in structures, lubrication, welding, pipe flanges and fretting corrosion.

In 1938, he entered the War Office as director of scientific research.  He was appointed Commander of the Bath in 1942.  His responsibilities were wide-ranging, including physical research, signals, chemical research, and included responsibility for the Radar Research Centre at Malvern, the chemical station at Porton Down, Wiltshire, and the rocket station at Aber-port, Cardiganshire.  He also took a personal interest in unexploded bomb disposal, and presented the Thomas Hawksley Lecturer on this subject in 1946.  In 1947 he was decorated with the Medal of Freedom with Silver Palm by the United States Government, for ‘exceptionally meritorious service in the field of scientific research and development, development of ground force weapons and aiding the United States in the prosecution of the war against the enemy’.

After the war, Gough joined Unilever as Engineer-in-Chief, and was responsible for developing the company’s advisory technical division in London.  He retired in 1955, but retained a keen interest in engineering, helping to organize a number of large international scientific conferences.

He was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1933 and was President of the IMechE in 1949.

He died in 1965.

  • 1950: Dr. Stanley Fabes Dorey

Dr. Stanley Fabes Dorey (1891-1972)

Stanley Fabes Dorey was born in 1891.  He attended Owen’s School, London, then served an apprenticeship at the Royal Dockyard, Chatham.  He received his academic training at Armstrong College, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where he won a Whitworth Exhibition and a Lloyd’s Register of Shipping Scholarship in Marine Engineering.

During the First World War he served as an Engineer Lieutenant in the Royal Navy.  After the war he spent a short time with Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth and Co. Ltd., following appointment as an Engineer and Ship Surveyor to Lloyd’s Register of Shipping.  He was posted to the staff of the Chief Engineer Surveyor in 1924, and at the end of 1932 was appointed Chief Engineer Surveyor.

He received the CBE in 1946, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1948. He was a President of the Institute of Refrigeration, the Institution of Naval Architects, and was President of the IMechE in 1950.  He was also a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights.

He died in 1972.

  • 1951: Arthur Clifford Hartley

Arthur Clifford Hartley (1889-1960)

Arthur Clifford Hartley was born in 1889 at Springbank, Hull.  He attended Hymers College, Hull, and the Hull Municipal Technical College.  From 1908 he attended the Central Technical College, Imperial College of Science and Technology.  He graduated in 1910 with an Honours BSc engineering degree.

After graduation he worked in the office of the Chief Docks Engineer, North Eastern Railway, Hull.  From 1912 to 1914 he was an assistant with Rose, Downs and Thompson, Ltd.

During the First World War, Hartley was commissioned in the Royal Flying Corps, where he qualified as a pilot.  For much of the time he served in the Air Ministry on experimental armament work.  This included one of his most significant contributions, the commissioning of the work which led to the Constantinesco gear for synchronizing machine guns. The gear allowed Vickers machine guns to be fixed between the blades of tractor aircraft propellers, able to fire straight ahead.  He was awarded the military OBE in 1918.

In 1924 he joined the Anglo-Persian Oil Co. Ltd., later the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. Ltd.   The following year he was made Assistant Manager of the Engineering Department, and the same year Assistant Manager of the Supply Department.  He was seconded to the Iraq Petroleum Co. from 1932 to 1934 for the design and development of the Kirkuk to Mediterranean desert oil pipelines.  On his return to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co Ltd. he held the position of Chief Engineer, which he held until his retirement at the end of 1950

Hartley was released by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co from 1940 onwards for war work.  From 1940 to 1941 he assisted with the development and production of a stabilized automatic bomb-sight.  From April 1942 he worked with the Petroleum Division of the Ministry of Fuel and Power on the PLUTO project – the pipeline under the ocean which supplied fuel for the Allied invasion of France.  From October 1942 until the end of the war he worked on the FIDO project, which sought a solution to the problem of poor visibility caused by fog.  The solution, oil burners alongside runways, was successfully implemented at fifteen airfields, allowing more than 25000 aircraft to land safely during foggy conditions.

He was awarded the CBE in 1944, and the United States Medal of Freedom in 1946.  He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1951 and President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1959, although he died only three months into his term, on 28 January 1960.

  • 1952: Sir David Randall Pye

Sir David Randall Pye (1886-1960)

David Randall Pye was born in Hampstead, London in 1886.  He attended Tonbridge School, followed by Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained first class honours in engineering.  After a short time with the firm of Mather and Platt in 1909 he was invited by C. F. Jenkin, professor of engineering science at Oxford, to join him at the engineering laboratories.

During the First World War, Pye first taught at Winchester College, then worked as an experimental officer in the Royal Flying Corps on design and testing.  After the war he briefly returned to Oxford, then in 1919 went to Cambridge as a lecturer, and became a fellow of Trinity College.  At the same time he also worked on a research programme on the combustion of volatile fuels, in cooperation with Henry Tizard and Harry Ricardo.  Between 1931 and 1934 he published a highly regarded two volume work, The Internal Combustion Engine.

In 1925, a Directorate of Scientific Research was initiated at the Air Ministry, and Pye was invited to become Deputy Director.  In 1937 he became Director of Scientific Research, with responsibility for introducing into the RAF new methods and new equipment in preparation for the Second World War.

He left this position in 1943, once it was clear that the war had reached a point when the research programme should be limited to projects which would become effective within the next two years.  He took up the Provostship of University College, London, which had suffered heavily in the air attacks of 1940 of 1941.  When he took up the Provostship, the students and staff had all been evacuated to seven sites in different parts of the country.  In London, all that remained was a secretary’s office.  He presided over a large programme of rebuilding, acquiring sites for future development, and re-integrating the scattered Faculties of the College into a single community of 3500 students and 400 staff.  In recognition of this work, Pye was made a Knight Bachelor in the New Years Honours list.

Pye was also an enthusiastic climber, and in 1922 he led the first ascent of the severe Crack of Doom, Skye.  He was also elected to the Alpine Club, becoming Vice-President in 1956.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1952.

He died in 1960.

  • 1953: Alfred Roebuck

Alfred Roebuck (1889-1962)

Alfred Roebuck was born in Thurlstone in 1889.  He became an apprentice with the firm of Hadfields Ltd, local steel makers and engineers, at their East Hecla Works.  He remained with this company for the rest of his working life.  From 1931 until 1945 he was Works Director, and for the following five years, until his retirement in 1950, he was Director with Special Duties.

In 1949 the Anglo-American Council on Productivity appointed him leader of the first specialist team to visit the USA to study materials handling in factories.

He was a supporter of the Junior Institution of Engineers, of which he was President in 1949.  He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1953.

He died in 1962.

  • 1954: Richard William Bailey

Richard William Bailey (1885-1957)

Richard William Bailey was born in London in 1885.  He served his apprenticeship with the Great Eastern Railway Company’s Locomotive Works at Stratford, London.  During this time he gained a Whitworth Exhibition and a Whitworth Scholarship, as well as being made the first ‘Director’s Scholar’.

He attended the East London Technical College, followed by a college apprenticeship with the British Westinghouse Electric Manufacturing Company, at Manchester, where his time was spent mainly with the drawing and design offices of the turbo-generator, large motor and transformer departments.

In 1908, Bailey became a lecturer in mechanical engineering in the University Courses at the Battersea Polytechnic.  In 1912, he was appointed the first Principal of the Crewe Technical Institute, which took over the training previously conducted by the Crewe Mechanics Institute.

He returned to the British Westinghouse Electrical Manufacturing Company, which was at that time developing the Research Department of the Company.  He was appointed Head of the Mechanical and Chemical Laboratories, which were soon extended to include Metallurgical Laboratories.

He is best remembered for his work on the behaviour of steels and similar materials under stress at high temperatures.  He had been engaged on research in this area throughout his career, from 1924 onwards.  He held around 90 British Patents, and was the author of at least 35 published papers.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1949.  In 1954 he was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  He died in 1957.

  • 1955: Percy L Jones

Percy L. Jones (1886-1966)

Percy Jones was born in Penarth in 1886.  He attended Taunton School, and served his apprenticeship at the Locomotive Works of Rhymney Railway Company, near Cardiff.  He then attended University College, Cardiff, and graduated with a BSc in Engineering three years later.

After graduation he was appointed Assistant Lecturer at Liverpool University.  Two years later he joined the technical staff of the Chief Mechanical Engineer of Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Company.  With the outbreak of the First World War, he enlisted in the infantry, later commanding a battery of artillery in France and Flanders.  He was awarded a Military Cross in 1916 and a Bar to the Military Cross in 1917.

On demobilization he rejoined the staff at Metropolitan-Vickers.  He remained there until 1923, when he joined Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson as Technical Manager of their Engineering Department at the Neptune Works.  He later became General Manager, and then Managing Director of the Engineering Department.

Jones was also President of the North-East Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders.  He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1955.  He died in 1966.

  • 1956: Thomas Arkle Crowe

Thomas Arkle Crowe (1896-1972)

Thomas Arkle Crowe was born in Bothal, Northumberland, in 1896.  He attended Durham School, then Armstrong College.  He graduated with BSc in 1920 and MSc in 1922.  He served a premium apprenticeship with R & W Hawthorn, Leslie and Co, Ltd., Newcastle upon Tyne.

From 1917 to 1919 he served in the Royal Navy as Temporary Engineer Sub-Lieutenant, and was subsequently promoted to Engineer Lieutenant Commander, Special Reserve, Royal Navy.

He returned to R & W Hawthorn, Leslie and Co, Ltd. from 1921 to 1934.  He began in the drawing office, and was then promoted to the position of Assistant Outside Manager, then General Manager.  In 1935 he moved to John Brown and Co. Ltd., Clydebank, in 1935.  He remained in this position until 1951.   During his time there he was responsible for the design and construction of the machinery for the Queen Elizabeth and Caronia liners, Duke of York and Vanguard battleships and the air carrier, Indefatigable.

In 1951, Crowe joined the North British Locomotive Co Ltd as Chief Managing Director.  In 1955 he became Chairman of the company, as well as of Carntyne Steel Castings Co. Ltd., and Henry Pels and Co., Ltd., and Director of Rail Traction Supplies, Ltd.

He died in 1972.

  • 1957: George Horatio Nelson, First Baron Nelson of Stafford

George Horatio Nelson, First Baron Nelson of Stafford (1887-1962)

George Horatio Nelson was born in 1887 in Islington, London.  He was educated at the City and Guilds Technical College, where he gained a diploma.  He received a Brush studentship to the Brush Engineering Company at Loughborough.

He then joined British Westinghouse Company in Manchester.  In 1911 he became Chief Outside Engineer at Trafford Park, and was made Chief Electrical Superintendent in 1914.  He was responsible for the manufacture and installation of steam and hydro-electric power equipment and electric traction equipment.  The company joined with the Metropolitan Vickers Group, and in 1920 Nelson became Manager of the Sheffield Works of the Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Company.  He remained in this position for ten years.

His former manager, Sir Holberry Mensforth, had been appointed Chairman of the English Electric Company, and in 1930 he persuaded Nelson to join him there as managing director.  When Mensforth retired, in 1933, Nelson became chairman and managing director of the company.  During Nelson’s time at the company he instituted a massive development of the company, for example, building up the number of employees from 4,000 to 80,000.  When, in preparation for the Second World War, a policy of rearmament was being followed, Nelson worked very hard to get the English Electric Company involved.  In 1938 he was successful in obtaining a training contract for 75 Hampden bombers, although he was told that these were already obsolete.  The order was fulfilled successfully, and was followed by orders for 2,470 Halifax bombers and 2,730 tanks.  By the end of the war, the company was developing the Canberra bomber, one of the most successful military aircraft of the time, to its own designs.

Nelson was also active in public work, and was a member of many important committees such as the Heavy Bomber Group Committee of the Air Ministry from 1939-1945 and the Reconstruction Joint Advisory Council from 1943 to 1944.  He was also Chairman of the United Kingdom Tank Mission, which went to the United States and Canada in 1942 to discuss a joint policy for tank production.

He received a knighthood in 1943, a baronetcy in 1955, and was made first Baron Nelson of Stafford in 1966.  He was President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1955, and was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1957.

He died in 1962.

  • 1958: Air Marshal Sir Robert Owen Jones

Robert Owen Jones was born in 1901 at Ashbourne, Derbyshire.  He studied engineering at the Manchester College of Technology, combining the course with a short apprenticeship in instrument making.  He then undertook the Mechanical Sciences Tripos at Cambridge, followed by the post-graduate course in aeronautics at Imperial College, London.  Here he specialized in research into high-compression aircraft engines.

He began a career with the Royal Air Force in 1924, from which time he alternated flying duty with technical duty, which included command of station workshops on aircraft maintenance and overhaul, technical instruction of officers and airmen, and several years spent at Farnborough on instrument design.  During these years he also graduated from the RAF staff college at Andover.

Immediately prior to the Second World War, he was appointed Air Ministry Overseer at Armstrong Whitworth and Armstrong Siddeley, with particular responsibility for overseeing the production of the Whitley bomber.  He spent much of the Second World War with the Ministry of Aircraft Production, initially on the layout of instruments and equipment in new types of aircraft.  He later spent two years in the United States on technical work on the procurement of aircraft and equipment to suit RAF requirements.  He also worked on the exchange of technical information.

Following the war he took part in the evaluation of the aeronautical research and development which had taken place in Germany during the war.

He then commanded the RAF group which controlled the technical training of apprentices and airmen of the RAF Mechanical Engineering trades.  His final position before retiring from the RAF in 1956 was that of Controller of Engineering and Equipment at the Air Ministry.

After retirement from the RAF, Jones took up consultancy work.  He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1958.  He was President of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1961.  He died in 1972.

  • 1959: Herbert Desmond Carter

Desmond Carter was born in Dublin in 1906.  He was educated at King Edward VII School, at Lytham, followed by the Manchester College of Technology.  He followed this with a five-year apprenticeship with Crossley Brothers Ltd., Manchester, the firm with which he was to spend the remainder of his working life.

Following his apprenticeship he spent a six month placement in Germany investigating an early gas turbine project, as well as visiting the works of a number of Continental firms.  He returned the Manchester to take up a position as design engineer.  He was responsible for the design of Crossley’s first marine Diesel engine, of a two-cycle direct-reversing type.

Over time, Carter became Chief Marine Engineer, Works Manager of a Branch Works, Chief Engineer of the Company and eventually, Director and Chief Engineer, responsible for the whole of the company’s products.  In 1951 he became Managing Director, and in 1957 Chairman and Managing Director.

He retired in 1962 and died in 1990.

  • 1960: Professor Owen Alfred Saunders

Owen Saunders was born in Streatham, London in 1904.  His father was an engineer, and was the inventor and designer of the Beckmeter petrol pump, which was widely used in British petrol stations.

Saunders attended Emmanuel School, Wandsworth Common, from 1913 to 1919.  After a period of home study, he enrolled at Birkbeck College, in the Chemistry department.  In June 1923 he achieved a first-class pass in the London University external general science degree.  He then attended evening classes in physics, and won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he began studying in 1923.

In 1927 he began working at the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research’s Fuel Research Station, as a scientific officer.  He continued his studies at this time, and gained a BSc in special mathematics with first-class honours, and an MSc in physics.

In 1932, Saunders was appointed a lecturer in applied mathematical physics at Imperial College.  Five years later he became the first Clothworkers’ reader in thermodynamics.  He was seconded to the Directorate of Turbine Engines (Ministry of Aircraft Production) in 1942 and remained there until the end of the war.

In 1946, Saunders returned to Imperial College, and was appointed Chair of Mechanical Engineering and Head of the Department.  In this position he oversaw a period of considerable re-building.  He remained in this position until 1964, when he was elected Pro-Rector of the College.  When the Rector, Sir Patrick Linstead, died suddenly, Saunders acted as Rector from 1966 to 1967. He then became Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, overseeing the merger of Bedford College and Royal Holloway College and becoming the first Chairman of the council of the combined college.  He retired from the Vice-Chancellorship in 1969.

Saunders was also a full member of the Magic Circle.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1960, and was made an Honorary Fellow in 1965.  He died in 1993.

  • 1961: Sir Kenneth F Hague

Kenneth Hague was born in Leeds in 1901.  He attended New College School, Oxford, before studying at Leeds University.  He joined Babcock and Wilcox Ltd. in 1924, and stayed with this company for the whole of his working life.

He rose through various positions at Babcock and Wilcox, becoming Managing Director in 1950 and Chairman in 1960.  His main interests were in steam engineering and nuclear engineering.  He was also actively involved with industrial labour relations, and served as a member of the UK Management Labour Delegation to the United States, and as British Representative on the Public Utilities Committee of the Combined Production and Resources Board in Washington.

Perhaps his most important contribution was his work towards the unification of the engineering profession.  He took an active part in the formation of the Engineering Institutions Joint Council in 1961, and served as the first Chairman of its Council.  He held this position until the reorganization in 1965, when it was renamed the Council of Engineering Institutions, and was granted a Royal Charter.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1961 and was made an Honorary Fellow in 1967.

He died in 1974.

  • 1962: John Hereward Pitchford

John Hereward Pitchford was born in Penarth in 1904.  He was educated at Brighton College and Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he read engineering.  He worked at the research laboratories of Ricardo and Co., Engineers, Ltd. during the long vacations, and in 1926 he joined the firm full time.  He worked in the research and development department, and was particularly involved with combustion research, particularly the high-speed diesel engine.  In 1939 he was appointed General Manager, and in 1962 he became Chairman of the company.  He became President of the company in 1976, when he retired from the position of Chairman.

He served on the Scientific Advisory Council of the Ministry of Fuel and Power from 1953 until 1959.  He was also President of the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés D’Ingénieurs des Techniques de l’Automobile (FISITA), which comprises the automobile engineering societies throughout the world.

Pitchford was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1962, and was the first President to be a member of the Automobile Division.  He died in 1995.

  • 1963: Roland Curling Bond

Roland Curling Bond was born in Ipswich in 1903.  He attended Tonbridge School, and was then taken on as an engineering apprentice at the Midland Railway’s Derby Locomotive Works.  After his apprenticeship he spent some time in charge of the inspection of locomotives constructed for the London, Midland and Scottish Railways by private manufacturers.

From 1928 to 1931 he was an Assistant Works Manager at the Vulcan Foundry Locomotive Works.  During this time he went to India to supervise the construction of electric locomotives for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway’s main line electrification.

In 1931 he returned to the London, Midland and Scottish Railways as Assistant Works Manager of the Locomotive Works, Horwich.  Eighteen months later he was appointed Assistant Works Manager of the Crewe Locomotive Works.  In 1937 the building of a Locomotive Testing Centre by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and the London and North Eastern Railway was authorized, and Bond was appointed Superintending Engineer, responsible jointly to Sir William Stanier and Sir Nigel Gresley for its design and construction.

On the outbreak of the Second World War, Bond was appointed Acting Mechanical and Electrical Engineer for the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, Scotland.  He became Works Manager at Crewe Locomotive Works in 1941, and was responsible for converting some of the works to produce tanks and other war materials.

Following the nationalization of the railways in 1948, Bond was appointed Chief Officer (Locomotive Construction and Maintenance) at Railway Executive headquarters, subsequently becoming Chief Mechanical Engineer, British Railways Central Staff.  He was promoted in 1958 to Technical Advisor to the British Transport Commission.  He retired ten years later.

Bond was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1963.  He died in 1980.

  • 1964: Vice-Admiral Sir Frank Trowbridge Mason

Frank Trowbridge Mason was born in Ipswich in 1900.  He was educated at Ipswich School, and entered the Royal Navy in 1918.  He served for two years as a cadet and midshipman on the HMS Collingwood and HMS Queen Elizabeth, before volunteering to specialize in engineering.  Under the Selborne-Fisher scheme of 1903, which aimed to put engineers into the mainstream of naval life, he received special training at the Royal Naval colleges at Greenwich and Keyham.

In 1928, Mason was appointed to HMS Rodney, which was a new battleship which was encountering severe problems with her 16 inch guns.  Mason’s experiences with these guns led him to specialize in ordnance engineering.  He was appointed for a time to the firm of Vickers at Elswick, and served for three years in the naval ordnance department.

After a series of promotions, and more spells with the Naval Ordnance Department, he was appointed Fleet Gunnery Engineer Officer to the Home Fleet in Scapa Flow, and was promoted to Captain (E).  The following year he returned to the Naval Ordnance Department in the Admiralty, and in 1947 he became Chief Gunnery Engineer Officer and Deputy Director of Naval Ordnance.  He was promoted to Rear-Admiral (E) and from 1950 to 1952 held the position of Deputy Engineer-in-Chief of the Fleet.  He was promoted to Vice-Admiral (E) in 1953 and was made Engineer-in-Chief of the Fleet.  In 1953 he was appointed CB and in 1955 KCB.
The Selborne-Fisher scheme under which Mason trained was ended in 1923, leaving the navy at a technological disadvantage with the outbreak of the Second World War.  Mason and others put much effort into reinstating it, and in 1956 a new scheme was implemented.

Mason was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1964, and was President of the Institute of Marine Engineers in 1967.  He was made an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  He died in 1988.

  • 1965: Harold Norman Gwynne Allen

Norman Allen was born in Bedford in 1912.  He went to Westminster School, followed by Neuchatel University, Switzerland, and Trinity College, Cambridge.  After graduating from Trinity College in 1933, he undertook training at the firms of J S White and Co. Ltd., Cowes, specializing in naval machinery, and John Brown and Co. (Clydebank) Ltd., during the building of the Queen Mary.  He then gained sea-going experience with Alfred Holt and Co. (Blue Funnel Line) and the Union Castle Line, followed by further practical experience at the Queens Engineering Works, Bedford.

He then began to work in the family firm, W. H. Allen Sons and Co., founded by his grandfather.  He was given special responsibility for the execution of a major contract for the supply and installation of steam turbine and electric motor-driven pumps at the Hampton Pumping Station of the Metropolitan Water Board.

In 1943 he was appointed a director of the Company, and two years later became Engineering Director.  He held this position until becoming Joint Managing Director in 1954.  He was responsible for adding gas turbines and epicyclic gears to the Company’s range of products, as well as a major expansion of the Queens Engineering Works, Bedford, and the establishment of a separate Gearing Works at Pershore, Worcestershire.  He retired in 1977.

Allen also served as Vice-Chairman and Governor of the College of Aeronautics, Cranfield from 1962 to 1969 (Governor from 1955), becoming Charter Pro-Chancellor when it became Cranfield Institute of Technology in 1969.  He retired from this position in 1975.

Allen was also a member of the Magic Circle.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1965.  He died in 1995.

  • 1966: Lord Christopher Hinton

Christopher Hinton was born in Tisbury, Wiltshire, where his father was the village schoolmaster in 1901.  At sixteen he was apprenticed to the Great Western Railway’s Swindon Works, spending six ‘unnecessarily long and wearisome’ years there.  In 1923 he received the William Henry Allen grant from the IMechE and went to Trinity College, Cambridge.

After graduation, Hinton was turned down by his former employer.  One of his professors, Sir Charles Edward Inglis, was told that ‘Hinton would have been a good engineer if he had stayed with us, but now he has had three years at Cambridge we wouldn’t dream of taking him.’  Instead he went to the Brunner Mond Company, which soon became the Alkali Division of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI).

At 29 Hinton became Chief Engineer at ICI, just before the 1930s Depression.  While there, he learned much about standardisation, management programming and other techniques of financial control.  Under Hinton, the company made great progress in mechanical handling of raw materials and in process plant reconstruction.

Christopher Hinton’s ICI experiences in large-scale organisation became important to Britain’s war effort.  From 1941 Hinton was Deputy Director-General of the Royal Filling Factory organization, overseeing the operations of nine major plants, each employing 20,000-30,000 workers.  Hinton later wrote that ‘size alone does not constitute a difficulty provided that the management is not afraid and knows how to create structures appropriate to the size’.

Post-war, Hinton became head of the Atomic Energy Authority’s industrial production base at Risley, effectively creating an entirely new industry by building Britain’s nuclear infrastructure.  Although early UK research reactors such as the British Experimental Pie (BEPO) provided important technical information, Hinton’s team lacked sufficient resources to build pilot plants.  They built plants for uranium enrichment, fuel rod production, plutonium separation and the nuclear reactors themselves without such pilots.  The Windscale piles, described by Hinton as ‘monuments to our initial ignorance’, went critical between 1950 and 1952, but Windscale pile no.1 was the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents in 1957.

Although the application of nuclear technology to civil power stations was delayed by the government’s weapons procurement priorities, Hinton was a successful project manager, and brought all his projects in on time and on budget.  By 1956, Calder Hall power station had become the first nuclear power station to supply electricity to the National Grid.

In 1957 Sir Christopher Hinton was appointed Chairman of the new Central Electricity Generating Board.  He moved the industry from entirely coal-based to a more diverse mixture of coal, oil and nuclear power stations.  Although his appointment may have been intended to bolster the new nuclear industry, Hinton believed that nuclear electricity generation should be judged on commercial and engineering grounds.  He did not lose his faith in nuclear power but felt that the industry had been expanded too quickly.

Before leaving the CEGB Hinton was responsible for major conventional plant construction and an upgrading of the grid.  The new ‘supergrid’ was planned so as to cause as little environmental impact as possible.

Upon his retirement Baron Hinton of Bankside took on several different roles, including advising the World Bank on energy matters, and serving as President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  A Fellow of the Royal Society and awarded the Order of Merit, he was one of the most honoured engineers of his generation.

  • 1967: Hugh Graham Conway

Hugh Graham Conway was born in Vancouver in 1914.  He was educated at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh, and Cambridge University, where he graduated with an honours degree in Mechanical Sciences.

In 1938 he joined Messier Aircraft Equipment Limited, and was Chief Engineer there.  He left in 1945 to join the Aviation Division of the Dunlop Rubber Company as Chief Engineer.  In 1947, he was involved with the formation of British Messier Ltd. as a subsidiary of the Bristol Aeroplane Co., and was Technical Director of British Messier until 1954.

He then moved to Short Brothers and Harland Ltd., Belfast, as Chief Engineer, and the following year he was appointed to the Board.  In 1961 he was made Joint Managing Director.  In 1964 he was appointed Managing Director of Bristol Siddeley Engines, and when this company was merged with Rolls Royce in 1966, he became a Director of Rolls Royce Ltd.

He was a member of the Decimal Currency Board from 1967-1971, and served on the Design Council from 1971 until 1976.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1967.

He died in 1989.

  • 1968: Sir Arnold Lindley

Arnold Lindley was born in London in 1902.  He attended Woolwich Polytechnic, and was apprenticed at the Fraser and Chalmers Engineering Works of the General Electric Co., Erith, which manufactured steam turbines, compressors and heavy mining plant.  In the fourth year of his apprenticeship he entered the drawing office, and later the design department for steam turbine, generating and mining equipment.

In the course of his work he travelled to Belgium, Holland and France, and in 1933 was transferred to South Africa as resident engineer for the GEC of South Africa.  He remained there for 16 years.  In 1940 he became a Director of the South African GEC.  He took a leading role in establishing the manufacture of heavy equipment in South Africa, and the creation of the establishment known as Vecor, the centre of heavy engineering there.  He became a member of the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and served as a member of Council from 1940, and Vice-President in 1948.

In 1949 he was recalled to England to become General Manager of the Turbine Engineering Works at Erith, and to re-equip and expand the factory to meet the demand for the large turbo-generating units which were then coming into being.  He became responsible for the establishment and development of the nuclear energy interests of the GEC, building two nuclear power stations and setting up extensive research facilities.

He became a Director of GEC in 1953 and was later appointed Chairman and Managing Director.  He was knighted in 1964 for services to industry, and in the same year, after retiring from GEC, he was appointed Chairman of the Engineering Industry Training Board.  In 1970, he was an Associate Consultant on the Thames Barrier.  He was Chairman of the Council of Engineering Institutions from 1972 to 1973.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1968 and was later elected an Honorary Fellow.

He died in 1995.

  • 1969: Dr Donald Frederick Galloway

Donald Frederick Galloway was born in Birmingham in 1913.  He was educated at Birmingham Central Technical College and at Cambridge University.  He was awarded a first class honours degree from London University, and later a PhD for research on the machining of light alloys.

He served a five-year apprenticeship with the Birmingham Small Arms Company, partly in the machine tool and cutting tool factories, and partly in the development department for motorcycles and cars.  He was particularly interested in single and multi-spindle automatic machines.  He later joined the Dunlop Rubber Company, where he was engaged on the design and layout of the mass production plant at Fort Dunlop.

After returning from a research tour of American in 1939, he was appointed Assistant Director of the Research Department of the Institution of Production Engineers at Loughborough College.  He was then appointed Director.

In 1946 he was involved in the formation of the Production Engineering Research Association of Great Britain, and was its first Director.  He was also one of the four founder members of CIRP (International Institution for Production Engineering Research), and was President in 1959-1960.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1969.

He died in 1997.

  • 1970: Professor John Lamb Murray Morrison

John Lamb Murray Morrison was born in Biggar, near Edinburgh, in 1906.  He was educated at Biggar High School, then studied at Glasgow University.  He graduated in 1927.

He served an apprenticeship with Harland and Wolff, mainly in the marine oil engine shops, but also spending time in the shipyard and the drawing office.  In 1928 he joined Bristol University as Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering.  He became Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 1946, and served as Dean of the Faculty from 1957 to 1960.

During the Second World War, Murray worked on aero-engines and armaments on behalf of the Gun Design Committee.  Following the War he was appointed to the Advisory Council on Scientific Research and Technical Development to the Ministry of Supply.  From 1948 to 1956 he was Chairman of the Weapon Design and Development Committee.  He was also a member of the Weapons and Explosives Advisory Board and of the Guided Weapons Advisory Board from 1950 to 1956.  He was then appointed Chairman of the Advisory Council itself.

Murray was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1970.  He died in 2001.

  • 1971: Sir Robert Lang Lickley

Robert Lickley was born in 1912 in Dundee and was educated at Edinburgh University. He graduated with a degree in civil engineering and was awarded a Caird Scholarship in 1932 to study aeronautics at Imperial College.

His career began at Hawker Aircraft Ltd at Kingston-on-Thames. He worked in the Stress office and was involved in stressing on the prototype Hurricane. During the Second World War he was appointed as Chief Project Engineer working on the development of the Typhoon and the Tempest.

After the war he took a professorship with the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield and devoted his time to raising the standard of aircraft design education. He served on a number of committees and performed consultancy work. In 1951 an opportunity arose to join the Fairey Company as Chief Engineer and Lickley quickly progressed through the company to become Managing Director. As well as overseeing the development of the Rotodyne, the first large compound helicopter, Lickley was also involved in the atomic energy work of the company. He served on the Board of Atomic Power Constructions which built the Trawsfynydd Power Station.

During the 1960s Lickley left Fairey and joined Hawker Siddeley Aviation. There he managed the supply of the Harrier to the US Marine Corps. In later years he was a key member of the Rolls Royce Support Staff at the National Enterprise Board.

He became a member of the IMechE in 1950, was elected to Council in 1964 and became President in 1971. From 1981-82 he served as President of the Institution of Production Engineers. He was bestowed a fellowship from the Royal Aeronautical Society and received honorary doctorates from the universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde. He died in 1998.

  • 1972: Baron Donald Gresham Stokes

Donald Gresham Stokes was born in 1914 and received his technical education at the Harris Institute of Technology in Preston. He apprenticed at Leyland Motors and was to spend a long career with the company.

During the Second World War he served as Assistant Director of Mechanical Engineering with the Central Mediterranean Forces and by its close had attained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. After the war he returned to Leyland as Exports Manager and was appointed to the Board in 1953.

In the mid to late 1950s Leyland acquired a number of companies, including Triumph and Rover.  Stokes became a director of many of the companies and during his appointment as Sales Director the Leyland Motor Corporation was formed. He had achieved the positions of Chairman and Managing Director by the early 1970s.

During the 1980s he became involved in working with international automotive companies, such as Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones and Beherman Auto-Transport in Spain. His many years of experience led to presidential appointments with the Engineering Employers Federation, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and the Motor Industry Research Association.

In addition to industry appointments Stokes was bestowed with honorary titles from many universities including Keble College at Oxford, Lancaster, Loughborough, Southampton and Salford. His professional membership began with the Institution of Automobile Engineers in 1935. He joined as a graduate and when the IAE merged with the IMechE he was automatically made an Associate Member. He was elected as an Honorary Fellow in 1968 and became President in 1972.

  • 1973: Sir John William Atwell

John William Atwell was born in 1911 and gained an apprenticeship at the age of sixteen with Yarrow and Company in Scotstoun. While working at the firm he also attended evening classes at the Royal Technical College in Glasgow. This fired his academic interest and he gained an Associate of the Royal Technical College qualification in 1937. He was awarded a Caird scholarship and continued his studies at Cambridge University, graduating with an MSc.

In 1939 he joined Stewarts and Lloyds Ltd, a steel tube manufacturing company, and after the Second World War progressed to management. His managerial experience led to an appointment with G & J Weir in 1953 and he oversaw the merging of the firm with Drysdale and Company and Harland Engineering. He assumed the role of chairman from 1970 and in the same year was awarded the CBE.

Atwell was involved in the establishment of the Fellowship of Engineering and received fellowships from the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Strathclyde University. He became president of the IMechE in 1973 and was knighted in 1976. He died at the age of 88 in 1999.

  • 1974: Sir St John de Holt Elstub

St John Elstub was born in 1915 in Heywood, Lancashire and attended Rugby School. He obtained a BSc(Hons) in mechanical engineering from Manchester University in 1936 and after initial training with Vickers Armstrong secured a position with ICI working on design and maintenance.

During the Second World War he joined the Royal Air Force and served as an operational bomber pilot and flying instructor. In 1943 he worked on the development of rocket motors and was involved in intelligence work on the V2.

After the war he returned to ICI and became Assistant Chief Engineer of the metals division, achieving the position of Chairman in 1961. In 1962 the metals division was formed into Imperial Metals Industries Ltd and he became Chairman of the company ten years later. He retired from IMI in 1974 and was involved in the creation of a Government Agency Research Establishment at Summerfield in Oxfordshire. The agency developed a range of solid-propellant rocket motors and he received the CBE for this work in 1954.

In the 1960s his main interest was the advancement of technical education and he was Governor of the Birmingham College of Advanced Technology and a member of Council of Aston in Birmingham University. He also became a member of the Engineering Industry Training Board and received an honorary degree from Aston University. He headed the Elstub Committee reporting on aircraft productivity and was a member of the Plowden Committee on the aircraft industry.

During this same period he became actively involved in the governance of the IMechE, joining the Council, and becoming Vice-President in 1965. He was elected President in 1974. In 1970 he received a knighthood and in 1975 was awarded the Verulam Medal by the Metals Society. He died in 1989.

  • 1975: Paul Thomas Fletcher

Paul Thomas Fletcher was born in 1912 and was educated at Maidstone Grammar School and Maidstone Technical College. He served a three year apprenticeship with E A Gardner and Sons and remained with the company for seven years.

At the start of the Second World War he joined the Ministry of Works and undertook projects such as the construction of storage for the National Gallery in North Wales. He had responsibility for engineering services in public buildings and government factories, and for plant and equipment for service research establishments. He progressed to the position of Chief Mechanical and Electrical Engineer in 1951.

In 1954 Fletcher joined the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) as Deputy Director of Engineering in the Industrial Group. Throughout the 1960s he was heavily involved in the development of nuclear facilities, working for GEC and overseeing the construction of Japan’s first nuclear station, Tokai Mura. His experience in the nuclear field led to numerous consultancy appointments. He was Deputy Chairman of Atomic Power Constructions and Chairman of the Pressure Vessels Quality Assurance Board and served on the Sizewell B safety policy committee.

Paul Fletcher joined the IMechE in 1930 and was elected President in 1975. He supported the development of the Institution of Incorporated Engineers and the Royal Academy of Engineering. The IIE founded the Paul Fletcher Award in his honour. He was also President of the Institution of Mechanical Incorporated Engineers and the ITEME. He died in 1998.

  • 1976: Ewen M’Ewen

Ewen M’Ewen was born in Asuncion, Paraguay, in 1916.  His father was a mining engineer.  He was educated at Merchiston and University College, London, graduating in 1935 with BSc (Eng) with first class honours in mechanical engineering.  He then served a two year graduate apprenticeship with David Brown and Sons of Huddersfield, remaining with the company for several years, in the design office and research department, and as assistant works manager.

In 1942 he joined the Army as an Ordnance Mechanical Engineer in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC), and transferred to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) on its foundation.  Most of his service was with the Department of Tank Design, of which he became Assistant Director.  He remained at the Establishment, renamed the Fighting Vehicles Design Department until 1947.  During this time he was concerned with gears and gear units, and was responsible for the development of the Merritt-Brown tank transmission.

In 1947 he became the first Professor of Agricultural Engineering at Kings College, University of Durham.  At the same time he was given a Personal Readership in Applied Mechanics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.  During his time at Newcastle he took part in the reformation of the Territorial Army.

He was asked to take on the task of amalgamating the Armament Research Establishment with the Armament Design Establishment in 1954, and became the first Director of the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment.

M’Ewen returned to industry in 1958 as Director of Engineering (Europe) of Massey Ferguson Ltd.  Five years later he became Deputy Managing Director of the Hobourn Group, and in 1965 he became Managing Director.  In 1967 he became Vice-Chairman (Engineering) of Joseph Lucas Limited, a group of companies including Girling (brakes and suspension), CAV (fuel-injection equipment and electrics) and Lucas Aerospace (engine and airframe equipment) and Keelavite (hydraulics).  He remained with the company until 1980, at which point he became a consulting engineer.

Ewen M’Ewen was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1976.  He died in 1993.

  • 1977: Professor Sir Hugh Ford

Hugh Ford was born in 1913, the son of a freelance inventor, and was educated at Northampton School. At the age of eighteen he began an apprenticeship in the locomotive works of the Great Western Railway. In 1934 he was awarded a Whitworth Scholarship which enabled him to attend the City and Guilds College, graduating with a first class honours and gaining the Bramwell Medal for achieving first place in the mechanical engineering list. He later gained a PhD from City and Guilds College for his work on heat transfer and fluid flow problems.

During the Second World War Sir Hugh joined Imperial Chemical Industries Alkali Division in Cheshire as a Research Engineer. He worked on commercial high pressure polyethylene plant and the design of a pilot plant for the manufacture of chlorinated polyethylenes. Three years later he became Chief Technical Officer to the British Iron and Steel Federation and progressed to the position of Head of the Mechanical Working Division of the British Iron and Steel Research Association. His research in to the operation and characteristics of cold strip mills gained him the IMechE’s Thomas Hawksley Gold Medal in 1948. His work eventually led to the development of automatic gauge control which became popular worldwide. By 1947 he had gained experience in establishing new laboratories, at Sketty Hall and the Hoyle Street, Sheffield laboratories of BSRIA.

A brief period as Technical Director of Paterson Engineering, waterworks engineers, was followed by a Readership in Applied Mechanics at Imperial College (previously City and Guilds College). A year later he received the DSc(Eng) of the University of London. He established a consulting practice, Sir Hugh Ford and Associates Ltd, working as Chairman to link the fields of academia and industry, and joined several companies as director.

In 1951 he became Professor of Applied Mechanics and oversaw the rebuilding and re-equipment of the Mechanical Engineering Department. During this period he worked on applied mechanics research and teaching, plasticity theory and metal working processes. He worked across numerous fields including polymer engineering, biomechanics, high pressure technology, fatigue and fracture mechanics. He was invited to join the Research Grants Committee of DSIR which later became the Science Research Council. In 1968 he became the first Chairman of the Council’s Engineering Board, promoting the Total Technology concept, a scheme for postgraduate training linked to management as well as technical concerns. In 1966 he became Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Head of Department at Imperial College. In 1978 he was made Pro-Rector and retired in 1980.

Sir Hugh Ford’s professional achievements are numerous. He has been President of the Institutes of Metals and Sheet Metal Engineering and in 1983 was awarded the James Alfred Ewing Medal of the Institution of Civil Engineers for his contribution to engineering research. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1967. He was a founder member of the Fellowship of Engineering and was a vice-President from 1981-84. In academia he received honorary doctorates from Salford, Queen’s (Belfast), Aston, Bath and Sheffield universities and was a Fellow of Imperial College. He was knighted in 1975.

He joined the IMechE council in 1962, serving until 1982, and became involved in the Applied Mechanics Group, the Engineering Policy Review Committee, the Council Awards Committee and the Technical Board. He worked on the Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science and founded the Materials Forum, chairing from 1979 to 1984. In 1984 he became an Honorary Fellow of the IMechE. The Hugh Ford Management lectures are held annually by the IMEchE’s Management Group.

Professor Sir Hugh Ford died on 28 May 2010 at the age of 96.

  • 1978: Sir Diarmuid Downs

Diarmuid Downs was born in 1922 in London.  His father ran a small engineering business manufacturing equipment for the oil industry.  Downs was educated at Gunnersbury Catholic Grammar School and the Polytechnic, London.  He then studied at the Northampton Engineering College, London, where he graduated with First Class honours in 1942.  He won a postgraduate bursary for further research and study, which he took up with Ricardo and Co.

For his first 15 years with Ricardos, first as student, then as a member of staff, and from 1947 as Head of the Petrol Engine Department, Downs pursued a study of fundamental study of abnormal combustion phenomena in the petrol engine, resulting in a clearer understanding of the problems of knock and pre-ignition.

Downs was made a Director of Ricardos in 1957.  He was made Managing Director ten years later, remaining in this position until 1984.  He was Chairman of the company from 1976 to 1987.

Downs was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1978.

He died in 2014.

  • 1979: James Gordon Dawson

James Gordon Dawson was born in 1916 in Scotland and was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School and Aberdeen University. He was the son of James Dawson, an educationalist who transformed the country’s education system. As a result of these changes Dawson was able to study engineering at university without having gained scientific Highers.

At university he studied electrical and mechanical engineering, and was awarded an HND prize by the IMechE in 1937. On graduating in 1938 he gained a pupilship with Rolls-Royce. He progressed to a position as a technical assistant in the Experimental Test Department. He worked on high performance testing and in 1942 was sent to run a new test department at Sinfin. The experience he gained at Sinfin led to an appointment as Chief Engineer at the Shell Aero Engine Laboratory at Thornton.

In 1955 Dawson moved to join Perkins based in Peterborough overseeing the modernization of the company’s product range and the reorganization of the engineering department. He worked on road trials of the differentially supercharged diesel engine and was awarded the IMechE’s Akroyd Stuart and Gresham Cooke prizes. After Perkins he moved to directorships at Dowty Group and then Zenith Carburettor Co.

Dawson joined the Institution of Automobile Engineers in 1939 and transferred to membership of the IMechE in 1943. He was a founder member of the IMechE’s automobile division and was also involved in running the Qualifications, Technical and Finance Boards.  He became a Fellow in 1957 and was elected President in 1979. He died in 2007.

  • 1980: Bryan Hildrew

Bryan Hildrew was born in Sunderland in 1920.  He was educated at Bede Collegiate Boys School, and at the Technical College, Sunderland.  After leaving school, he entered into a five year apprenticeship with the North Eastern Marine Engine Works, Sunderland.  He began his apprenticeship at the time of the 1930s recession, and believes that his willingness to play football for the company significantly improved his job prospects!

He attended Sunderland Technical College, initially in the evenings, and later full time, and studied for an external degree at London University.  On the completion of his apprenticeship, he joined the Royal Navy as an Engineer Officer.  He spent the next five years in sea-going appointments.

In 1946 he returned to England, and studied for a Master’s degree at City and Guilds College under Professor, later Sir Owen Saunders. His research subject was the determination of the flow of heat into large turbine rotors.

After completing his degree, in 1948 he joined Lloyd’s Register of Shipping.  For eight years he travelled the world carrying out field investigations into failures in ships and their machinery, and into measuring the static and dynamic strain in heavy industrial engineering plant and structures.

In 1957, Hildrew was seconded to the nuclear submarine project team, first at Harwell and then at Bath.

Upon his return to Lloyd’s Register, he established the computer department.  He was made Chief Engineer Surveyor in 1967 and Technical Director in 1970.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1980, and President of the Institute of Marine Engineers from 1983 to 1985.  He was also Chairman of the Council of Engineering Institutions from 1981 to 1982.

Bryan Hildrew died on 11 January 2012 aged 91 years.

  • 1981: Francis David Penny

David Penny was born in 1918 in Worcestershire, the son of an engineering craftsman. He was educated at Bromsgrove School and in 1934 began an apprenticeship with Cadbury Bros at Bourneville. He gained experience in the workshops and attended Birmingham Central Technical College. In 1938 he was awarded the Cadbury scholarship to study for a degree in engineering at University College, London for which he achieved first class honours.

At the start of the Second World War he joined the Armament Design Department at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich as a junior draughtsman. He remained with the department for fourteen years working on fuse design. He progressed though the department becoming Principal Scientific Officer responsible for the design of all non-proximity fuses for shells, mortars and land mines.

In 1954 Penny was appointed Chief Development Officer at the Fuel Research Station of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research at Greenwich. He was involved in the formation of a new research establishment in Stevenage, the Warren Spring Laboratory. He developed the establishment’s research programme.

Penny’s experience led to a position with the National Engineering Laboratory and he was tasked with promoting the application of research results in industry. He worked towards ensuring that the Fielden Committee’s recommendations were implemented and chaired a working party formed to create the Computer Aided Design Committee of the Ministry of Technology. This work resulted in the establishment of the Computer Aided Design Centre in Cambridge which promoted CAD and computer aided manufacture in the 1960s.

In 1969 Penny moved in to industry and joined Yarrow and Co as Director, and as Managing Director of its consulting engineering subsidiary Y-ARD. The firm was involved in the design of machinery for the Royal Navy’s Type 42 destroyer, Type 22 frigate, the Invincible class of cruisers, and nuclear submarines. In 1979 he was promoted to the role of Managing Director and retired in 1983.

Penny became a Fellow of the IMechE in 1960 and was elected President in 1981. He chaired the Professional Affairs and Qualifications Boards and was the IMechE’s first representative on the Watt Committee on Energy. He was also elected to the Fellowship of Engineering in 1980 and was a Fellow of University College London and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 1991 he became the President of the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers. He died in 2005.

  • 1982: Victor John Osola

Victor John (Vaino Juhani) Osola was born in 1926 in Hull and was educated at Hymers College. He studied for an engineering diploma at the Technical College in Sunderland and then a degree at the University of Durham. He undertook his practical training with William Doxford and Sons, marine engine manufacturers in Sunderland, and then Det Danske Staalvalsevaerk steelworks in Denmark. He completed his initial training carrying out industrial gas turbine research with C A Parsons and Co in Newcastle.

In the post war years Osola held a technical commission in the Electrical and Mechanical branch of the Corps of the Royal Engineers. He served in the Middle East as a Garrison Engineer at Suez. In 1952 he transferred to the chemical industry working for Procter & Gamble as a Senior Project Engineer. His experience with the firm led to an appointment at Lankro Chemicals as a Works Engineer and then Chief Engineer.

The next fourteen years were spent in the glass industry, working for Pilkington. In 1978 his team won the MacRobert Award for the development of Triplex Ten Twenty glass and its production processes. During his time as General Manager of the Reinforcements Division of Fibreglass Ltd, he oversaw the successful construction of the largest glass fibre reinforcement factory in the UK at Wrexham. In 1979 Osola joined the Board of Redman Heenan International as a non-Executive Director. He later became Chief Executive and was Chairman of all of the group’s subsidiary companies.

Between 1974 and 1979 he was asked to become an independent member of the Mechanical Engineering and Machine Tools R&D Requirements Board of the DoI. He presided over the setting up of the Automated Small batch Production Committee and the Computer Aided Engineering Panel.

In 1982 he was elected President of the IMechE, having served on the Council for eight years. He was also involved in the running of the Process Engineering Group and the Technical Policy Board, acting as Chair for both. In the wider professional arena he gained membership of the Institute of Energy, membership of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and was elected to the Fellowship of Engineering. He was awarded a CBE in 1980 and was also made a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Engineers. He died in 2003.

  • 1983: George FW Adler

George Adler was born in Stettin, Germany (now Szczecin in Poland), in 1926.  He was educated at Penarth County School, followed by Cardiff Technical College.  He then attended University College, Cardiff, between 1942 and 1945, and was awarded a First Class Honours degree in Mechanical Engineering (London University external) and Joint Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, Cardiff.

Adler then served a two-year graduate apprenticeship at English Electric Co., Rugby, before undertaking a postgraduate bursary in hydropower studies at Imperial College, London, from 1947 to 1948, obtaining a Diploma.

In 1948 Adler returned to English Electric’s Rugby works as a design engineer in the water turbine department.  He worked under Dr. Paul Seewer, a Swiss engineer who had pioneered hydro-electric power in Scotland, and had built up a world-wide business for the company in this area.  Adler spend a period in the hydraulic research department, before undertaking his first major project, to develop entirely new manufacturing techniques for water turbine runners (impellers).

From 1953 to 1956, Adler was Chief of Mechanical Development, and he extended the manufacturing techniques he had developed for water turbine runners, to the whole range of water turbine components.  In 1956 he was appointed Chief Development Engineer for English Electric’s power generation activities at the Rugby and Whetstone works, including steam, water and gas turbines, diesel engines and nuclear power equipment.  He also built up the newly formed Mechanical Engineering Laboratories at Whetstone.

In 1958, Adler moved to the Marconi Company at Chelmsford as Chief Mechanical Engineer and member of the Directorate of Engineering.  Four years later he moved within the company to become General Manager of it new Mechanical Products Division at Felling.

Adler returned to English Electric in 1966, moving to the Netherton (Lancashire) works to manage the company’s water turbine and valve divisions, and help restore these to profitability.  At the time, the company was facing strong international competition in this area, particularly from Japan.

In 1971, Adler was appointed Director of Research (Chief Executive) of the British Hydromechanics Research Association (BHRA).  The BHRA was an independent technology centre specialising in fluid engineering.

Adler also served as a member of the Department of Industry’s Technology Transfer Services Advisory Committee and the Department’s Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Requirements Board.  He was elected to the Fellowship of Engineering 1981, and was awarded an OBE in the Birthday Honours of June 1982.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1983.  He died in 2002.

  • 1984: Dr Waheeb Rizk

Rizk CBE was born in Cairo in 1921 and was awarded a PhD in engineering at Cambridge University in 1948. In 1954 he moved to work for English Electric in Rugby where he lived with his wife Vivien and their three children.

Rizk was made chief engineer of the gas turbine division at Whetstone near Leicester in 1957, although he remained living in Rugby for the rest of his life. At English Electric he put together a world-class team of design engineers who made a number of major advances in the use of gas turbines and were responsible for establishing the company as the only substantial manufacturer outside America.

When the company merged with GEC Rizk was appointed managing director of the gas turbines division and went on to lead a workforce of around 2,000 employees. He felt passionately about his responsibilities to his workforce which he led for more than 25 years.

Rizk was involved in a number of national and international institutions and was chairman of the British Standards Institution (BSI) from 1982 to 1985.

He also received a number of awards including an OBE, CBE and the Freedom of the City of London. Dr. Rizk died on Saturday, August 15, aged 87. At the time of his death, Dr Rizk was a consultant for WR Associates.

  • 1985: Sir Philip Foreman

Sir Philip Foreman was born in Exning, Suffolk, in 1923.  While he was a young boy, his father became tractor driver on a farm in Cambridgeshire.  He was also responsible for the installation, repair and maintenance of all the farm machinery, and this early experience awoke a keen interest in mechanics in the young Foreman.

He attended the local elementary school, and Soham Grammar School, from which he won a British Empire Open Scholarship to Loughborough College.  He graduated from Loughborough in 1943 with a First Class Honours Diploma in Mechanical Engineering.

After graduation, Foreman wanted to join the Royal Navy, but was turned down due to his colour blindness.  Instead he joined the Royal Naval Scientific Service, which was a department of the Civil Service, working at the Admiralty Research Laboratory at Teddington.  He remained at Teddington until 1958, when he resigned in order to join the guided weapon tea at Short Brothers and Harland Ltd., where he was responsible for all shipborne and depot equipment associated with the Seacat missile weapon system.  In 1961, he became Chief Engineer of the guided weapon division, and in 1964 was appointed Company Chief Engineer, in which position he assumed responsibility for all the Company’s engineering activities including aircraft design.  He was elected to the Broad in 1965 as Deputy Managing Director and became Managing Director in 1967.  In 1983 he became Chairman and Managing Director.

At Short Brothers, Foreman concentrated particularly on the export market, and in 1972 was awarded the CBE for services to export.  He was knighted in 1981.  In 1988, Foreman set up an engineering consultancy firm, Foreman Associates.

He has long been involved with the British Standards Institution, serving as Chairman from 1988 to 1991, and President from 1994 to 1998.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1985.

  • 1986: Sir Bernard Crossland

Sir Bernard Crossland was born in 1923.  He was educated at Simon Langton Grammar School, Canterbury, before beginning an apprenticeship with Rolls Royce, Derby, in 1940.  He studied part-time at Derby Technical College, which led to the award of a State Bursary at the then Nottingham University College, where he was awarded a BSc (Ext. London) in Engineering, in July 1943.  He returned to Rolls Royce, where he was appointed a Technical Assistant in the Experimental Vibration Department, where he was concerned with experimental and theoretical work on the vibration of Merlin, Griffon and Derwent engines and vibration of reduction gears on destroyers.

In 1945 he began working as a Lecturer at Luton Technical College.  After a year he was appointed Assistant Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol.  He became Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at Bristol, before taking up an appointment in 1959 as Professor and Head of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering in the Queen’s University, Belfast.  He served as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering from 1964 to 1967, and as Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor from 1978 to 1982.  He took early retirement in 1984.

Crossland was particularly interested in high pressure engineering, and he worked closely with ICI on high pressure polyethylene plant.  He also contributed to the development of explosive welding.

After his retirement he was involved in the investigations of a number of accidents.  These include the King’s Cross Fire Investigation in 1988 and the Public Hearing into the Bilsthorpe Colliery Accident in 1994.

In 2010, Sir Bernard Crossland received The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Sustained Achievement Medal in recognition of his contributions in the field of high pressure engineering and the links he helped to forge between industry and academia throughout his career.

Sir Bernard Crossland was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1986.  He died on 17 January 2011.

  • 1987: Oscar Roith

Oscar Roith was born in 1927.  He was educated at the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, and took the Mechanical Sciences Tripos at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.  As part of his studies, he attended the Administrative Staff College at Henley, and the Centre d’Etudes Industrielles at Geneva.

He left university in 1948, and served a postgraduate apprenticeship at Courtaulds Limited, followed by a period in the Chemical Engineering Section of their Research Department.

In 1952 he joined the Central Engineering Department of the Distillers Company Limited, where he was involved in all aspects of major plant construction, including Process Design, Project Engineer, Resident Engineer and Project Manger.  He was appointed Engineer Manager at Hull Works in 1962, and Works General Manager in 1969.  During this period the industrial interests of the Distillers Company Limited were taken over by the British Petroleum Company Limited.  Roith transferred to BP Chemicals Limited at this time.

In 1974, Roith was appointed General Manager, Engineering and Technical, and moved to BPCL’s headquarters in London.  He was responsible for the policy and control of all BPCL’s Technical, Engineering, Safety and Environmental interests.

He was appointed General Manger of the Engineering Department of BP Trading Limited in 1977.  Four years later, following a reorganization of the company, he was appointed Chief Executive (Engineering), Group Engineering and Technical Centre, BP International Limited.

He retired from BP after thirty years service, and in 1982 joined the Department of Industry as Chief Engineer and Scientist.  He had general responsibility for advising Ministers on the technological and scientific aspects of the Department’s strategy and support for industry.  He was responsible for relationships with scientific and engineering societies and institutions, research associations and Councils, and the British Technology Group.  He was also responsible for the administration of the DTI’s Research Establishments, the Patent Office and the National Weights and Measures Laboratory.  He retired from the DTI in 1987.

Roith was also a member of the Science and Engineering Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Advisory Board for Research Councils, the Advisory Board for Applied Research and Development (ACARD) and the Department of Energy’s Advisory Committee on Research and Development.

Oscar Roith was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1987.

  • 1988: Cecil Charles John French

Cecil Charles John French was born in 1926.  He was educated at Newport School, near Saffron Walden in Essex, and the University of London’s King’s College.  He gained a BSc (Eng) with First Class Honours in 1947.  He then obtained an MSc (Eng) for research into particle size analysis.

After a graduate apprenticeship at CAV Ltd., French was awarded a Marshall Aid Scholarship.  He studied at Columbia University, New York, USA.  He also carried out research into combustion in the petrol engine at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and spent some time studying production methods at the John Deere Tractor Plant at Waterloo, Iowa.

When he returned to England in 1952, he joined Ricardo Consulting Engineers, where he worked on diesel and petrol engine research and development.  He was appointed a director in 1969.  From 1979 to 1983, he acted as Managing Director, and between 1984 and 1987 he was Chairman of the instrumentation and educational equipment manufacturing subsidiary, G Cussons Ltd.  In 1982 he was made Vice-Chairman of Ricardo Consulting Engineers PLC.

From 1990 to 1992, French was Group Technology Director of Ricardo International.

He is a Past President of the Diesel Engineers’ and Users’ Association, and of the International Council for Combustion Engines, CIMAC.

Cecil French died in 2016.

  • 1989: Roy Ernest James Roberts

Roy Ernest James Roberts was born in 1928. He was educated at Farnham Grammar School.  He began his career with an engineering apprenticeship with the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough.

In 1951 he went to Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds (GKN) as a management trainee, and from 1955 to 1970 he held various positions with GKN and C & B Smith Ltd., acquired by GKN in 1966, including Works Director and Director and General Manager.

He became Managing Director of GKN Engineering Ltd in 1972, and in 1974 Chairman of both GKN Engineering Ltd. and GKN Building Supplies and Services Ltd.  He was appointed to the Main Board of GKN in 1975, and became the Group Director responsible for Engineer and Construction in India, Pakistan, South Africa and the Middle East.  He was appointed Group Managing Director in 1980, Deputy Chairman in 1987, and retired from GKN the following year. He was awarded a CBE in 1986.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1989.  He died in 1993.

  • 1990: Michael J Neale

Michael Neale was born in 1926.  He left school at 16, and became an engineering apprenticeship with Rolls Royce Ltd., Derby.  During his apprenticeship he took a part time honours degree through day release and evening study.  He then went on to do research on piston ring lubrication at Imperial College, where he was President of the Students Union, and played a part in planning the expansion of the college.

He then joined the Glacier Metal Co. Ltd. as engineering research manager; at the time the company was building its international reputation as leaders in plain bearing technology.  In 1958, Neale was given the task of setting up and operating a new technical design and consultancy service for the company’s customers.

This experience provided a firm foundation for his move into independent consultancy in 1962.  He works with a small group of consultants, Michael Neale and Associates Ltd., who specialize in solving problems with plant and machinery, and who have a wider range of activity covering audits of company technology and new designs, the linking of research with industrial application, and the improvement of plant maintenance.  He was awarded the OBE in 1984 for services to the engineering profession.

Michael Neale was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1990. He died on 4 August 2012.

  • 1991: Professor Tom D Patten

Tom Patten was born in 1926.  He was educated at Leith Academy, then attended Edinburgh University, where he obtained an BSc and PhD.  He was a Captain in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, serving between 1946 and 1948.

In 1950 he began working as Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Engineering, Edinburgh University, later working as Lecturer and Senior Lecturer.  He remained at Edinburgh University until 1967.

He then moved to Heriot-Watt University, where he set up and became Director of the Institute of Offshore Engineering.  He also assisted with the formation of the departments of petroleum engineering and offshore engineering and the Heriot-Watt Marine Technology Centre.  After reaching the position of Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, he left in 1982 to develop his technological, industrial and commercial interests.

In 1981 he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

He was Chairman of Sealand Industries, on the supervisory board of the National Engineering Laboratory, and Director and Chairman of Marine Technology Directorate.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1991.  He died in 1999.

  • 1992: Professor Duncan Dowson

Professor Duncan Dowson was born in 1928.  He was educated at Lady Lumley’s Grammar School, at Pickering, Yorkshire.  He attended Leeds University, where he was awarded a BSc in Mechanical Engineering in 1950 and a PhD in 1952.

He began his career as a Research Engineer at Sir W.G. Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Co., where he remained for two years before taking up the position of Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at Leeds University.  He was an instrumental member of the Ministry of Education and Science committee that identified tribology in 1966.  The following year he established the Institute of Tribology at Leeds to coordinate tribological practice in industry, teaching and research.  Her served as Institute Director until 1987.

At Leeds University, Dowson has promoted innovative degree courses, undergraduate exchange systems and continuing professional education.

His own research has focussed on elastohydrodynamic lubrication, the lubrication of machine elements and natural synovial joints, and the tribological characteristics of total replacement joints.

He was elected to the Fellowship of Engineering in 1982, and was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1987.  He has worked on committees established by the Department of Education and Science, the Department of Health and Social Security, and the Science and Engineering Research Council.

He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1992.

  • 1993: Dr Anthony Albert Denton

Dr Anthony Albert Denton was born on 14 March 1937.  His father was Walter Granville Denton, who was working at the time as a motor mechanic at the Woolley Colliery garage, and later became the Chief Automotive Engineer.

Anthony attended Woolley Colliery Church of England School, from where he won a scholarship to Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield.  He then read mechanical sciences at Downing College, Cambridge, as a Savile Scholar.  After graduating in 1958, he began a graduate apprenticeship with Quasi Arc Company as an apprenticeship engineer.  Towards the end of his apprenticeship he was involved in the development of automatic welding equipment for use in shipbuilding.

The company supported him in undertaking a doctorate at Imperial College, London.  He was then offered a lectureship, which he held from 1963 to 1966.  During this time he met with Captain David Noble, a Master Mariner, and marine consultant.  He gave advice to many of Lloyd’s underwriters on deep-sea towages.  With a wealth of seagoing experience, but few academic qualifications, he needed assistance with stability and stress calculations.  Denton agreed to help with this in the evenings, after his academic work.

Noble was being asked to offer guidance on the towing of larger and less stable structures, most of them oil-drilling rigs.  Together they worked on the towing and depositing of the first North Sea oil platform, ‘Mr. Cap’.

In 1966, Denton felt that he had to choose between academia, and industry.  He decided to work with W. D. Noble & Co. on a fulltime basis.  In 1970 the company changed its name to Noble Denton, and the firm Noble, Denton and Associates was incorporated in 1971.  Denton was technical director from 1971 to 1977, and from 1977 until his retirement twenty years later, he was chairman and chief executive.  The firm was involved with most of the significant offshore developments of the twentieth century, and during his time as chairman and chief executive, the company expanded into global operations, advising underwriters on the risks of locating and moving large structures at sea.  Such structures included steel and concrete oil platforms, lighthouses, tin dredgers, and even a floating nightclub, which had to be towed across the Pacific ocean during typhoon season.

The company also developed its own highly sophisticated weather forecasting operations covering the entire globe, finding existing weather forecasting systems to be inadequate.  Television and film companies, as well as the offshore industry, now use this service.

Denton was President of the IMechE in 1993-4.  He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1983.  He was appointed CBE in 1997.  He died in 2001.

  • 1994: Brian Hamilton Kent

Brian Kent was born in Hyde, in Cheshire, in 1931.  He was educated at Hyde Grammar School, and left after achieving his Higher School Certificates.  He applied to take the Civil Service Examination, leading to a possible engineering apprenticeship at the ‘Atomic City’ at ERE Harwell.  Instead, in 1949 Kent entered the full time Mechanical Engineering course at Salford Technical College for an External Honours Degree from London University.   He graduated in 1952 with a 2:1 Hons Degree, and the Board of Governors Prize in Mechanical Engineering.

At the age of 21 he joined Mather & Platt Ltd in Manchester as a graduate apprentice.  He also lectured in the evenings at Salford, in both Mathematics and Strength of Materials.

Between June 1948 and March 1958, five international tours for young people took place.  They were sponsored by the South African Aid to Britain fund, and were to provide tours for young people who had been deprived of overseas travel in the United Kingdom because of the Second World War.  As Senior Apprentice, Kent was selected to compete for a place, and spent six weeks touring selected islands of the West Indies and British Guyana on the mainland of South American.

From 1954 to 1957, Kent served in the Royal Navy, initially as part of his National Service requirement.  After a year he joined the electrical training staff for the Electrical Research Association.

On his return to civilian life, he rejoined Mather & Platt as a service engineer in the rotating machinery division, involved in the commissioning of high speed centrifugal pumps and motors in the many Central Electricity Generating Board power stations then under construction.  His role also involved trouble-shooting on breakdowns, and Kent was involved following the Windscale major gas leak in 1958.

Kent left Mather & Platt in 1964, and began working for Morganite Carbon, where he remained for five years.  During this time he was selected to engage in a CPD experience, and was sent to study at IMEDE, the Nestle funded business school at Lausanne, Switzerland, to be trained in international marketing.

From 1969 to 1978, Kent worked for Alfa Laval Ltd., a British subsidiary of the Swedish multinational, as Managing Director.

Between 1978 and 1994, Kent took on the restructuring of Staveley Industries.  This was an old company, a conglomerate of British heavy mechanical engineering industries, which was restructured into an international company with interests in light engineering such as weighing and non-destructive testing.

Kent was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1994.

  • 1995: Frank Christopher Price

Chris Price was born in 1946.  He was raised in Wilmslow, Cheshire and studied mechanical engineering at Nottingham University.

He began his engineering career as a graduate apprentice at British United Shoe Machinery, going on to become Research and Development Manager, and later a member of the Board of Management.  In 1985 he left to join Rearsby Automotive as Engineering Director.  In 1987 he joined the management buyout of United Shoe machinery companies.

He then worked as Director of Product and Process Development for USM Texon Ltd, the group which owned British United Shoe Machinery Ltd., as well as companies around the world.  He was responsible for the USM Texon group’s whole Research and Development department, and for the Group’s global environmental compliance.

Chris Price was one of the youngest ever Presidents of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and at the time of his election, in 1995, was the youngest for 100 years.

  • 1996: Professor Robert William Ernest Shannon

Professor R W Ernest Shannon was born in Belfast in 1937.  He was educated at Belfast College of Technology and The Queen’s University of Belfast, where he gained a BSc (Hons) in Aeronautical Engineering, and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering.

He began his career as a Laboratory Technician with James Mackie & Sons Ltd., responsible for product testing in the Plastics Division.  In 1956 he undertook an aircraft apprenticeship with Short Brothers.  After gaining his degree, he also lectured in aeronautical engineering at Queen’s University.

It was a Queen’s that Shannon met Professor Bernard Crossland, who persuaded him to become a research fellow in mechanical engineering, working on the fracture of ultra-high pressure vehicles, then used for making polythene.  He received a PhD for this work, and as a result was recruited by British Gas in 1970.

At this time, there had been some massive gas pipeline ruptures, particularly in the US, with fractures running at speeds up to 2000m/sec and up to 16km in length.  Shannon developed standards for the design, operation and repair of high pressure pipelines, and went on to lead the 350-strong team that developed British Gas’s world-beating intelligent ‘pig’ system for investigating pipelines.  This received the Queen’s awards for both technology and exports and led to Shannon and his team winning the MacRobert Award for engineering excellence, one of the engineering profession’s highest honours.

Shannon retired from British Gas in 1995, and subsequently worked as a Consultant and a Professorial Fellow at Queen’s University, Belfast.

He was awarded the CBE in 2001 for services to economic development.

He was President of the Institution of Gas Engineers in 1994, and President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1996.

  • 1997: Pamela Liversidge

Pamela Liversidge was the first female president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. She was born in 1949.

In the late 1960s, she decided that she wanted to pursue a career in engineering, then an unusual career for a woman.  She embarked on a Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of Aston, in Birmingham.  At this time it was usual for engineering students to receive sponsorship, but this proved difficult to obtain as a female engineering student.  After graduating, she obtained a position as Graduate Trainee with GKN, based in the West Midlands.

In 1976, she moved to George William Thornton, a small forging company based in Sheffield.  Starting as Assistant Technical Manager, she progressed to Sales Director.  In 1987 she moved to East Midlands Electricity as Strategic Planning Manager.  She was eventually promoted to Divisional Director of East Midland Electricity’s trading businesses.

In 1993 Liversidge set up a company to manufacture specialist metal powders.  The company came about through her interest in Medical Engineering.  This interest also saw her promote the formation of a Medical Engineering Division in the IMechE during her time as President.  She also facilitated the formation of AIME – the Association of Institutions in Medical Engineering.  The manufacturing company was sold in 1996, and she is now Managing Director of a holding company, Quest Investments Ltd.

During her time as President, Liversidge initiated the ‘Moving Forward’ programme.  It included a wide-ranging review of the Institution’s activities, allowing it to respond to changes in the Mechanical Engineering profession.  Education and Qualification procedures relating accreditation were also reviewed.  She also opposed the SARTOR regulations.

She was awarded an OBE in 1998/9 in recognition of her services to the Institution and Engineering.  She is also a member of the WISE (Women into Science and Engineering) National Co-ordinating Committee, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the City and Guilds Institute.  She is also a Freeman of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire and of the Worshipful Company of Engineers.

Pamela Liversidge was President of the IMechE in 1997.

  • 1998: John Spence

John Spence was born in 1937.  Upon leaving school he undertook a mechanical engineering apprenticeship with Stewarts and Lloyds, now British Steel, with the intention of becoming a draughtsman.  After a few months, the possibility of attending university was raised by his brother-in-law, and Spence began a course in mechanical engineering at the Royal Technical College in Glasgow.  Stewards and Lloyds agreed to count the degree as part of the apprenticeship, and Spence worked for the company during the holidays.
When Spence completed his degree, his apprenticeship had a year to go, and he negotiated to go to Sheffield University for a postgraduate degree.  Encouraged by his supervisor at Sheffield, Spence attended an Institute of Physics Stress Analysis Conference in Birmingham to present a paper on his MEng thesis.  As a result, Spence was offered a job at the Babcock and Wilcox Research Station.

Spence stayed at the Babcock and Wilcox Research Station for six years, four of which were as Head of the Stress Analysis Group.  This was the heyday for nuclear power.  The Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) had built a number of smaller gas cooled nuclear reactors, and were working on Hinkley Point.  At 500MW, this was the largest nuclear power station in the world at the time.  It was a joint venture with Taylor Woodrow, English Electric and Babcock, and development problems with the hardware were passed to the Research Station.

In 1965, Spence joined the University of Strathclyde as a lecturer.  He completed his PhD on ‘The creep of pipe bends’ in 1971, and his DSc in 1978.  In the late 1970s he made a significant contribution to the North Sea Oil development, working for BP International on the buckling of sub-sea pipelines.  He also advised British Gas on bulk gas storage.

Spence was promoted to Professor at the University of Strathclyde in 1979, and held the Trades House of Glasgow Chair of Mechanics of Materials from 1982 until 2001.  He was Head of Department from 1981 in the Departments of Mechanics of Materials, then Mechanical and Process Engineering, and finally Mechanical Engineering.  As Head, he encouraged staff to undertake consultancy work, and formed an umbrella organization called Stress Analysis Services, to encourage this work to be progressed through the Department.

John Spence took early retirement in 2001.  He served as President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1998.

  • 1999: James McKnight

James McKnight was born in 1938.  After leaving school he undertook an apprenticeship with GKN.  Afterwards he worked for Ford Motor Company, where he spent 14 years.  His last position was Manager in Heavy Advanced Truck Engineering.  During this time he was the manager of the team which undertook the design analysis on the highly successful Ford Cargo Truck.

In 1977, he joined the British Leyland Truck and Bus Group as Chief Engineer.  He was a key member of the team the developed the classic Roadrunner, the Lynx Citybus, and upgraded the Olympian double-decker.

McKnight was part of the group that bought out the Leyland Bus Group from Rover in 1987.  Later sold on to Volvo, he subsequently led the efforts in designing the low floor Volvo citybus for world markets, which incorporated many innovative features now standard on today’s buses.

In 1995, McKnight led the management buyout of Volvo’s Product Development group to form Leyland Product Development Ltd (LPD).  This is a medium sized company specializing in the design of commercial vehicles and second generation low floor buses.

He has served as President of FISITA, the world body for automotive engineering.  In 1992 he set up the first Student and Young Engineers Conference at FISITA, which saw representatives of 30 different countries brought together.

James McKnight was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1999.

  • 2000: Denis Edwin Filer

Denis Edwin Filer was born in 1932.  He was educated at Manchester Central Grammar School, and studied for a BSc in Mechanical Engineering at Manchester University, graduating in 1953.

Following his graduation, Filer was commissioned in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), where he completed his National Service.  He retained an involvement through the Territorial Army, eventually becoming Honorary Colonel REME TA.

He spent 32 years of his career with ICI, starting in the dyestuffs division in Manchester.  He was initially involved with mechanical design on specific equipment or processes.  He introduced the concept of computer modelling and, in particular, its use in the design of new chemical plants.  He retired in 1988, having spent seven years as Director of Engineering.

The same year, he took up the position of Director General of the Engineering Council.  At the time, this was a relatively new body, not yet well established, but by the time Filer left it had strong links with the engineering institutions and was on a much firmer footing.

Filer left in 1994 to become Chairman of Adwest Group plc, an automotive components supplier.

Denis Filer was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 2000.

  • 2001: Tony Roche

Tony Roche joined British Rail at the age of 16 as a ‘fitters boy’ at Stafford Road Shed, Wolverhampton.  In 1967 he completed a seven year long apprenticeship, which had included work on both steam and diesel locomotives, and training and experience in specification, design, development, manufacture and maintenance of traction and rolling stock.  At the same time he graduated with a BSc in Mechanical Engineering.

The following 19 years were spent mainly with British Rail Engineering Limited, a subsidiary of the British Railways Board.  The role of the company was to design and manufacture the majority of the railway traction and rolling stock vehicles operating on the UK heavy rail network.

In 1986, Roche joined BR Headquarters, and was closely involved with the review of Manufacturing and Maintenance Policy for Traction and Rolling Stock.  This review led to the privatization of the manufacturing activities of British Rail Engineering, and the formation of a new subsidiary, British Rail Maintenance Limited (BRML).

Other positions followed, as Director of Engineering for the Intercity Fleet, the Board’s Director of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Chief Executive of BRML and Deputy Managing Director of Network South-East.

Roche was also involved with the privatization of British Rail.  He was the first Managing Director of one of the Rolling Stock Leasing Companies and was appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport as the Board Member for Engineering at British Rail.  One of the major tasks facing him in this position was preparing more than 20 central service companies for sale and directing the sales process.  These companies were not all engineering companies, but included IT, medical services and a Training Establishment.

After working at British Rail for 39 years, Roche left and established a consultancy company advising on railway management and engineering matters.

  • 2002: John McDougall

John McDougall spent his early career with the Davy Corporation, Whessoe and Sterling Furnaces, working in engineering design and manufacture of capital plant.

In 1975 he joined WS Atkins Consultants as a Project Engineer, involved primarily with the supervision of the construction of the new British Steel Redcar works, and other prestige clients.   He was promoted to Managing Director in 1991.

John McDougall was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 2002.

  • 2003: Professor Christopher Taylor

Chris Taylor was born in 1943.  He was educated at Leeds Boys Modern School.  He studied for his BSc in Mechanical Engineering at Kings College University, and for his masters and doctoral degrees at the University of Leeds.

His first position was as a Research Engineer with the English Electric Company.  He then joined the Industrial Unit of Tribology at Leeds University.

In 1971, he joined the academic staff at the School of Mechanical Engineering at Leeds University as a lecturer.  He became Senior Lecturer in 1980, and Reader in 1986.  From 1990 to 2001 he was Professor of Tribology, and from 1993 to 2001 he was Editor of Part J of the Proceedings of the IMechE, the Journal of Engineering Tribology.

In 2001 he became Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Bradford, which position he retained until 2007.

Professor Chris Taylor was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 2003.

  • 2004: William Edgar

William Edgar was born in 1938.  He started work with Colvilles Steel Makers, as an office boy at their Hallside Steel Works near Glasgow.  In 1955 he started work as an apprentice fitter/turner/draftsman at Hallside Steel Works.  Colvilles supported him as he attended five years of evening classes, culminating in an HNC in Mechanical Engineering and an HNC Endorsement in Electrical Engineering.  They also sponsored him through university, enabling him to study Mechanical Engineering at the Royal College of Science and Technology.

After gaining an MSc in Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics at the University of Birmingham, Edgar went to work as a Development Engineer at Ravenscraig Strip Mill in Lancashire, then a state of the art steel mill designed and constructed by Davy United.

The following year, in 1963, Edgar went to British Aircraft Corporation at Warton, Lancashire, as an Aeromechanical Engineer.  He remained with the company for four years, working on high altitude military aircraft design.

He moved to Weir Pumps, Glasgow in 1967, initially as Chief Development Engineer and then as General Manufacturing Manager at the Cathcart Plant.  After seven years he joined Vickers Marine Engineering Division, and two years later was appointed Executive Chairman of Cochrane Shipbuilders.

In 1990 he became Chief Executive of the National Engineering Laboratory.  At the time, this was an Executive Agency of the Department of Trade and Industry.  Edgar’s remit was to prepare the establishment for privatization, which was successfully completed with the sale of NEL in 1995.

Following the sale of the NEL, he joined the John Wood Group as Group Director responsible for Engineering and Production Facilities Division.  He retired from this position in 2004, just prior to becoming President of the IMechE.

Edgar was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1999, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2003.

  • 2005: Andrew Ives

Andrew Ives is an expert in the fields of electrical and electronic engineering. His experience is in the management of product engineering, from design to business development. He graduated from Brunel University with a First Class Honours in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and is also a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering Technology.

He worked for Lucas Industries for thirty years achieving senior engineering management positions, including Head of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the Lucas Group Research Centre, and Director and General Manager of Lucas Automotive Sensors. He was responsible for multinational engineering programmes, in particular in the automotive sector. He worked with the Jaguar racing team to develop engine management systems used in the Le Mans endurance race. He oversaw the development of engine electronics for the Metro 6R4 super rally car in the 1980s.

In the mid 1990s he became Principal Consultant to Saturn Electronics and Engineering Inc, a US manufacturing company. This role led to work in China, South America and Hungary. He began to work as an independent consultant for US and UK firms, specializing in automotive engineering.

He was elected President of the IMechE in 2005.

  • 2006: Alec Osborn

Alec Osborn was born in 1939 and educated at Grantham College for Further Education. At the college he studied for two HNCs while apprenticing with British Racing Motors. He progressed to a position as draughtsman, working on numerous projects including the BRM Formula 1 H16 and V12 engines.

In 1969 he was initially appointed Design Engineer at Perkins Engines, but his talent and aptitude soon led to the position of Chief Engineer. During his thirty-two years with the firm he worked in applications engineering, test operations and production engineering. He became a consultant in 2002.

Osborn joined the IMechE in 1962 and became involved with numerous boards and committees, serving as Chairman of the Combustion Engines Group, the Qualifications and Membership board and the Technical Strategy Board. He also took a particular interest in the development of his local group, the East Midlands Region. His experience and profile led to appointments on the boards of the Deacon’s School in Peterborough and Hereward Community College. He became Director of the Thomas Deacon City Academy in 2004. In 2002 he was made a Freeman of the City of London.

Osborn chartered in 1969 and was made a Fellow of the IMechE in 1991. He was elected President of the IMechE in 2006.

  • 2007: John Baxter

John Baxter was born in 1951 and educated at Queen’s Park School in Glasgow, and then Strathclyde University, from where he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. After graduation he studied for a postgraduate degree at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich and started his career as a Submarine Engineer Officer. He served on a Polaris nuclear submarine carrying out refitting.

Baxter’s experience in the nuclear field led to an appointment with the United Kingdom Energy Authority in 1990 as Director of Engineering. He was also a founding director of Hunting BRAE, the private company that ran the UK atomic weapon plants. He worked as Director at Dounreay and was appointed to the UKAEA Board by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. He oversaw operations at Windscale, Harwell and Winfrith.

In 1998 he left UKAEA to work at Powergen plc. He was responsible for strategy, research and development and all technical services. His knowledge and expertise in all aspects of the company’s engineering business led to a promotion as Powergen’s Group Engineering Director.

Baxter’s current position is as Group Engineering Director at BP. He is responsible for integrity management, major accident risk assessment and engineering standards. He is also Head of Profession for engineering at the BP Group.

Baxter became President of the IMechE in 2007. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering Technology and the Royal Academy of Engineers and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Engineers. He advises the MoD on nuclear safety and oil industry concerns. He maintains a link with the military holding the rank of Colonel in the Engineer and Logistics Staff Corp of the Royal Engineers.

  • 2008: Professor Bill Banks

Bill Banks graduated from Strathclyde University with a First Class Honours BSc Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1965 and an MSc Degree in 1966. He was a Senior Research Engineer at Weir Pumps Ltd but since 1970 he has been in Academia, gaining his Doctorate in 1977. Prior to his appointment as President, he was Chairman of Advanced Materials in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde. He is also a past Chairman of the Engineering Professors’ Council.

Professor Banks has been a leading advocate in the education sector calling upon the urgent need for Government and industry to work together to develop the next generation of engineers.

  • 2009: Keith Millard

Keith Millard started as a seagoing marine engineer then followed a period as an operations engineer with the Central Electricity Generating Board.  Since 1970 his career has centred on consulting, with 11 years as Managing Director of Gilbert Associates, before becoming Business Development Director for Balfour Beatty Construction International and the Vice President of Parsons International, responsible for Europe, Africa and the Middle East.  In 1998 he founded Kea Management, advising clients on strategy development and providing a coach and mentoring service to chief executives through Vistage International.

Keith joined the Institution in 1968 and became a Fellow in 1977. He chaired the Technical Strategy Board until recently, is a past Chairman of the Power Industries Division Board and was founding Chairman of the Management Group Board. He has been a Trustee since 2004.

During his year of office as IMechE President Keith adopted the theme “Using management techniques to improve the  world through engineering”. Keith’s engineering education, training and experience provide the foundation of his management capability, which draws its strength from three main areas: project management, strategy and leadership.  He has focussed on inspiring the younger generation, engaging with the IMechE membership and addressing energy sustainability.

  • 2010: John Wood

John read engineering at Cambridge and spent the early part of his career in the Army in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

After field appointments in BAOR and the UK, he attended Staff College and then held a number of appointments in military vehicle procurement, test and development.

He retired from the Army in 1987 as a Lieutenant Colonel to join RAC Motoring Services as Technical Director and Chief Engineer. From there, John joined MIRA Ltd in 1991 as Managing Director and Chief Executive. MIRA grew out of the Motor Industry Research Association and is an independent company providing design, test and development services to the automotive and other industries worldwide and has offices in the US, China, Korea and India.

John joined the Institution in 1973, becoming a Member in 1978 and a Fellow in 1987. He served as Chairman of our Automobile Division in 1993. In 1996 John was invited to fill a casual vacancy on the Council, prior to being elected a Member of the Council in 1998, a Vice-President in 2001 and Deputy President in 2008.

John  was the 125th President of the Institution, Chairman of the Engineering Heritage Committee, and was Chairman of Formula Student for 10 years. He was awarded an MBE in 2012.

  • 2011: Professor Rod Smith

Professor Smith is the Research Professor of Railway Engineering and Chairman of the Future Railway Research Centre at Imperial College London.

He was previously a lecturer in the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge and Professor of Mechanical and Process Engineering at the University of Sheffield, including a period as Head of Department. He was then Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College. Rod is a frequent expert witness in legal cases involving railway engineering and is often invited as a keynote speaker at international conferences. He is the author of more than 300 publications on fatigue and fracture of metals and latterly on many aspects of railway engineering.

Rod has previously been a member of the British Rail Board’s Research and Technical Committee, a Trustee of the Science Museum and a member of the Advisory Board of the National Railway Museum. He was Editor in Chief of the IMechE Proceedings Part F – the Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit – for over 10 years and has been a member of several other international editorial boards.

Rod joined the Institution of Mechanical Engineers as an affiliate in 1968, becoming an Associate Member in 1970 and a Fellow in 1991. He was first elected to the Institution’s Council in 1999, elected a Trustee in 2006, Vice-President in 2008 and Deputy President in 2009. He became the Institution’s 126th President in May 2011. He has also served as Chairman of the Technical Strategy Board, Regional Strategy Board & Strategy Advisory Committee.

Rod was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1999 and is also a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.

  • 2012: Professor Isobel Pollock

Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in engineering design at the School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds (2006 – date).

  • Chair of the School of Mechanical Engineering Industrial Advisory group (1996 – date)
  • KTP academic supervisor for 2 KTP projects with industrial partners
  • Formula student team – coach for project management and team building skills

Chair of National Measurement & Regulation Office (NMRO – formerly National Measurement Office) Steering Board, appointed by BIS in 2013.

Professor Pollock chairs the NPL Electromagnetic & Time (EMT) Working Group on behalf of BIS & NMS and in 2013 was presented with the Sir Harold Hartley Medal by the Institute of Measurement and Control.

127th President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (May 2012 – May 2013)

127th Presidential Address and 22nd George Stephenson Lecture entitled “Measuring Success” Represented IMechE in China, Hong Kong, Macau, India, Sri Lanka, Spain, Ireland and throughout the UK and spoke at the United Nations in New York, representing IMechE and their 2013 report “Global Food – Waste Not, Want not” Initiated the booklet “Beginner’s guide to Measurement in Mechanical Engineering” jointly with NPL and IMechE published in 2013 Manufacturing Assessor (2001 to date) and in 2008 mentored the SME winner in the IMechE Manufacturing Excellence Awards (MX)

As Past President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (May 2013 – date), she continues to actively support the work of the Engineering Heritage, Manufacturing Excellence, Strategy Advisory group, Council, Nominations, and Remuneration committees.

In May 2013, appointed an Associate of the Engineering Council following eight years of service as a Trustee Board member and serving as Chairman of the Quality Assurance Committee.

Lead the Engineering Council review and publication of UK Spec 3rd edition 2014 after wide consultation with all the Professional Engineering Institutions (PEI) and other bodies.

Profession Pollock was appointed OBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours List (June 2014) for ’services to mechanical engineering. She was awarded an Honorary DSc from the University of Huddersfield in 2004 and Fellowship of City and Guilds Institute (FCGI) in 2010 for services to engineering and the engineering profession. From 2015, she has been appointed to the Council of the University of Huddersfield.

In April 2015, elected as Senior Warden of the Worshipful Company of Engineers, and subject to election, becoming Master in 2016 with Freeman of the City of London since 2002.

Biography provided by Professor Pollock.

  • 2013: Patrick Kniveton

Patrick trained at Reyrolle, then commissioned the Isaac Newton Telescope in the Canary Islands for Grubb Parsons.

He spent two years developing commercial skills as a sales engineer at SKF Engineering Products, then became Engineering Manager, Rotawing Fans, where he designed bespoke air conditioning systems.

Joining Rolls-Royce Controls in systems design for Sizewell B, he then developed and joint-patented a world-leading technology for electronic motorway signs.

Engineering Manager for Rolls-Royce Materials Handling, in 1999 he then moved to Derby, as Head of Business Management, Gas Turbine Operations Engineering.  In 2007 he joined Rolls-Royce Marine Power as Head of Infrastructure. In that role he launched multi-million pound office and factory redevelopments.

Since 2009, he has been Head of Engineering Improvement for Rolls-Royce Submarines – a multi-£100million business in the nuclear sector – in which role he drives process improvement for engineering areas and leads business management for the engineering  function.

Active in the Institution since 1990, initially he was involved in the North East region, then joined Council in 1992. He was a founder member and served twice as an ordinary member of the Trustee Board. He was elected Vice President for 2004-2007, and was Deputy President from 2011-2013.

He has chaired CRC (now Regional Strategy Board), leading reviews of best practice; Academic Assessment Committee; International Affairs (now ISB); QMB and has been active on many national committees, including: Investigating Panel, Marketing and CPD.

For 15 years, he has been a Trustee Director of one of his company’s pension schemes.

He takes part in many graduate recruitment activities for Rolls-Royce. Patrick has supported many people in the membership process, both for Member and Fellow, and is a mentor for several engineers, both inside and outside his own company. In 2001, he led an initiative in the company to encourage many mid-career engineers to complete their applications for CEng, with more than 300 successes in two years, many to Fellow.

  • 2014: Group Captain Mark Hunt

Group Captain Mark Hunt became the youngest President of the Institution when he was elected aged 42 in May 2014.

Mark said: “I am extremely proud as an engineer to have my services recognised in this way..This recognition highlights the importance of engineers to society and helps inspire the next generation.”

Mark has been an Engineer Officer in the RAF for 18 years and is now the Type Airworthiness Authority for the RAF’s intelligence gathering, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance fleets of Sentinel and Sentry aircraft. His career has spanned appointments as Senior Engineer Officer on an operational Harrier squadron, predominantly in Afghanistan, and training young engineers at the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering.

A Chartered Engineer, Mark has much experience in forming, training, motivating and leading teams of military and civilian personnel in peacetime and on operations worldwide.

As the youngest Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Engineers, he indulges his three passions: promoting the engineering profession while championing education and charitable causes.

When elected, Mark became the youngest Fellow of both the Chartered Management Institute and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers with whom he has 13 years’ Board-level experience as Deputy President, a Member of Council and a Trustee on the Trustee Board.

Mark was recognised with an OBE for his outstanding achievements and service to the community in the New Year Honours List announced on 30 December 2014.

Archives, Institution of Mechanical Engineering

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