As a result of the library’s recent refurbishment and re-opening as the Library and Members’ Hub, visitors coming to view our archives will now be working on the desk used by engineer William Henry Allen in his office at the Queen’s Engineering Works in Bedford.

Allen’s company, WH Allen and Sons, were best known as the leading British manufacturer of marine auxiliary machinery for the Royal and Merchant Navies.

The works closed in 2000 and the desk was transferred at that time to the IMechE.

Allen had joined the IMechE in 1885 and remained a Member until his death in 1926. He served on the Council from 1906 and was Vice-President between 1915 and 1921. Allen was known for having a progressive attitude towards the education, progression and wellbeing of his employees.

The desk itself is a typical late Victorian mahogany Pedestal desk with a formidable amount of storage space including nine drawers and two cupboards. The desk also includes a fitted cigar box concealed within one of the drawers – suffice to say the box no longer contains any cigars but you may find the odd 2B pencil in their place!


To ensure the desk, its users and our archive material can co-exist happily the writing surface is now protected.

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