BOOK REVIEW: A square deal all round

This month we have a book review by David Andrews, member of the IMechE Engineering Heritage Awards Committee. David reviews A square deal all round, which tells the story of the famous company Perkins Engines. The title is a pun on the Perkins logo, which is made up of circles intersecting a square. He recommends the book as: “engineers can always learn something from studying the … Continue reading BOOK REVIEW: A square deal all round

WWI engineering workshop


This week marks 100 years since (some) women got the vote in this country. It is also 100 years since a woman first presented a paper at the Institution. Olive Monkhouse talked about The Employment of Women in Munitions Factories. World War I brought with it a huge increase in demand for munitions, at the same time the workforce was reduced by men signing up … Continue reading EMPOWERING WOMEN



The modern engineer can research and record engineering ideas using mobile devices and camera phones, as well as more traditional methods. In the 19th century engineers carried notebooks and a pencil to sketch designs on the move.  A man who exemplifies the image of the Victorian engineer as artist is David Joy, born in Leeds in 1825.  A collection of his drawings and his diary … Continue reading DAVID JOY

Hiram Maxim and gun


Hiram Maxim was a prolific inventor; in 1866 he took out his first patent for a hair-curling iron. He went on to make improvements to automatic sprinklers, feed-water heaters, gas motors, dynamos and lamp carbons. He is also credited with constructing the first tricycle built in America. His rare talent for invention, and desire to improve upon existing machines and devices, led him to turn … Continue reading HIRAM MAXIM


Storey’s Gate Tavern once stood where IMechE’s London Headquarters now stands. It is home to the only known portrait of a remarkable engineer, Joseph Bramah. It is fitting that this is its location, as it is thanks to Bramah and his patented beer pump that customers can today enjoy a fresh drink from the beer tap! Bramah was born in Stainborough, Yorkshire, 13 April 1748 … Continue reading JOSEPH BRAMAH

Mather & Platt apprentices, 2 Apr 1936.


As mechanical engineering began to develop as a profession in the late eighteenth century, the question of how best to educate and train engineers became increasingly important. In Britain, the preference was strongly in favour of ‘on the job’ training.  Initially, an apprenticeship would be purchased in a given firm or with a consulting engineer and you’d be indentured to learn the trade for a … Continue reading ENGINEERING AN EDUCATION


In the Archive at IMechE we have several letters by Bessemer, available to researchers. One discusses the affinity of phosphorus and iron and the separation of the two. Email us to enquire. He became a member of IMechE in 1861. Bessemer is most widely known for the process named for him. Born in Hertfordshire in 1813 to a French engineer father, he showed an interest … Continue reading SIR HENRY BESSEMER


Creating a virtual archive for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers IMechE’s Virtual Archive In conjunction with Townsweb The vast archive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) spans over 150 years in scope and is of National importance. So we were privileged to be selected by the Institution to build a Virtual Archive portal and publish their prestigious holdings online. Above image: Napier Deltic engine, … Continue reading CREATING A DIGITAL ARCHIVE

Christian Friedrich Lautenschlager in a Mercedes in the 1914 French Grand Prix


Planes, trains and automobiles: mechanical engineering archives now online Over 1900 images from the archives and historic book collection of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) are now available online via VADS. From pictures of experimental cars, aeroplanes, engine designs, engineers portraits, railway locomotives and much more. Highlights include works of art of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, images of Napier engines, design drawings of … Continue reading IMAGE LIBRARY ONLINE

British tank factory, 1917


“It was a weapon designed for one simple task: crossing the killing zone between trench lines and breaking into enemy defenses [sic].” (1) Today marks the 100th anniversary of the first tanks used in combat during World War One The Mark I British ‘landship’ was introduced at the battle of Flers-Courcelette ten weeks into The Somme  Organized in secret, the plan went awry when the … Continue reading 100 YEARS OF THE TANK