Flying testbed B2 Canberra WK163 fitted with a NSc D1-2 Double Scorpion rechargeable booster rocket. Stamped on rear - Napier Luton Airport, Neg no 22641, and Secret.


Whether you are in Dundee, Devises, Doha or Delhi you can now gain access to key items held in the Institution of Mechanical Engineers archive collection, all for free, just by going online. Curated from our extensive physical collections, our Virtual Archive showcases a selection of models, items, drawings, notebooks, photographs and documents about the history of engineering and the Institution. We have captured 3D interactive versions of artefacts, many of which have never been seen in public before. Themes cover automobiles, engines, industry, Institutional history and railways, there is also First World War material. Hundreds of images can already be searched and seen and more will be added throughout the year.

Among our favourite items is a notebook on Peugeot racing cars, with notes on Sunbeam and Rolls-Royce vehicles which is by George Henry Roesch, who was later the chief engineer at Talbot. Frederick Lanchester gifted us a treasure trove of drawings, as well as his own notebook, which shows the construction of early Lanchester Motor Company cars. Photographs of D Napier & Son’s Lion bring this iconic engine to life; these can be seen alongside Boulton and Watt engine drawings, arguably one of the original master engine builders. You can read Charles Algernon Parsons’ steam turbine notebook or the circular letter which effectively founded the Institution. Or discover the story of the world’s first railway to rely exclusively on steam power -the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Photographs reveal how the Bhore Ghat incline, India was constructed and show you where workers lived. Artefacts include a wind tunnel test model of the Golden Arrow land speed record winning car which was then painted up and presented to its driver, Sir Henry Segrave and unique carved railway tokens used by George Stephenson to travel the railway lines he helped to build.

Every object and item has a story to tell, by bringing them together in this new way we hope that you can build these individual stories into a rich tapestry, which will create a history of mechanical engineering relevant to your own perspective and interests.

Did you know the IMechE has thousands more historical documents in its physical archive? Items can be consulted (by appointment) at 1 Birdcage Walk, email Details can be found in our catalogue.

Virtual Archive

Archive, Institution of Mechanical Engineers

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