IMechE membership register showing the handwritten entry for A. C. Hobbs.


Between 1st May and 15th October 1851, the “Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations” more commonly known as the “Great Exhibition” took place in Hyde Park. The Great Exhibition offered the opportunity for many eminent engineers and engineering firms to display the products of their labour to the world. The occasion of the Great Exhibition prompted the Institution’s first London based … Continue reading THE IMECHE, THE GREAT EXHIBITION AND THE GREAT LOCK PICKING DEBATE

Parsons 5kw turbogenerator set model, c1880


Charles Algernon Parsons spent a lot of time in his father’s workshop (3rd Earl of Rosse, astronomer) listening to the many scientists who visited and observing his father’s work. He studied maths at Cambridge University. In 1884 he went to work for Clarke, Chapman, and Company, manufacturers of electric dynamos. Realising that a significant amount of energy was being lost between the engine and the dynamo, … Continue reading THE DYNAMISM OF CA PARSONS

Engineering workshop model section, based on Royal Arsenal works, c1893-1910


Our engineering model used to be owned by Hiram Maxim (1840-1916), who was best known as the inventor of the Maxim gun (the first portable fully automatic machine gun). After he died in 1916, his widow Lady Sarah gifted it to IMechE. In 1885, Maxim had introduced his invention at IMechE in the paper, Description of the Maxim automatic machine gun. Watch the workshop running & view … Continue reading A MODEL WORKSHOP


Photographs of James Watt ‘s parallel eidographs have been found during the cataloguing and conservation of recently discovered photos at IMechE. These curious objects was designed to copy and create sculpture. Watt developed the machines at his home, Heathfield Hall. The photos were found with letters about the machine, they are freely available online. Watt developed two sculpture-copying machines; one for same size copies and one for … Continue reading WATT’S EIDOGRAPH


Our Bessemer letters are now online, free for all to read! One discusses the affinity of phosphorus and iron and the separation of the two. 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 in engineering and invention as a boy. His first invention, was to use brass as … Continue reading SIR HENRY BESSEMER

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


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

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