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Institution of Mechanical Engineers

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) is the British engineering society concerned with mechanical engineering. It is licensed by the Engineering Council UK to assess candidates for inclusion on ECUK's Register of professional Engineers. It was founded in 1847 and received a Royal Charter in 1930. The head office is located at 1 Birdcage Walk, Westminster, London, SW1H 9JJ.


Vision statement: "Improving the World through Engineering". Its Purpose is "To lead and promote professional engineering"

Membership Grades and Post-nominals

The following are membership grades with post-nominals :

  • Affiliate: (no post-nominal) The grade for students, apprentices and those interested in or involved in mechanical engineering who do not meet the requirements for the following grades.
  • AMIMechE: Associate Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers: this is the grade for graduates (of acceptable degrees or equivalents in engineering, mathematics or science) who have not yet met the requirements for full membership.
  • MIMechE: Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. For those who meet the educational and professional requirements for registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng) or Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Engineering Technician in Mechanical Engineering .
  • FIMechE: Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. This is the highest class of elected membership, and is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to and innovation in mechanical engineering.


In 1818 the Institution of Civil Engineers was founded. At that time the word "civil" was used to distinguish them from Military engineers and included all the fields of engineering, not just construction as it does today. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers was founded on January 27, 1847 in the Queen's Hotel next to Curzon Street railway station in Birmingham by the railway pioneer George Stephenson and others. It operated from premises in Birmingham until 1877, when it moved to London, taking up its present headquarters in 1898.

The beginning

The events that led to the formation of the IMechE began in the early autumn of 1846. A discussion between six or seven men, not all of whom were engineers, ended with the decision to try to gain support for an institution for "mechanics and engineers". Exactly where this discussion took place is open to debate. At the opening of the present headquarters in Birdcage Walk, London in 1899 a commemorative pamphlet was issued to members stating that the meeting took place in a house in Cecil Street, Manchester. Namely the house of a Charles Beyer, the manager of Sharp Brothers' locomotive works. Although Beyer was very much involved in the formation of the IMechE, it is more likely that the meeting was no more than a conversation among friends.

More probably, the venue of the discussion that led to the first meeting was the Lickey Incline near Bromsgrove on the Bristol and Birmingham railway. James McConnell was, until 1846, locomotive superintendent of this line, known earlier as the Birmingham and Gloucester railway. It appears that McConnell had invited several engineers to view locomotive trials at Lickey, where there is a 1 in 37 gradient. It remains one of the steepest parts of the British railway network today.

In one account of the event a shower of rain sent the party running for cover. They found shelter in a trackside platelayers' hut, and it was in this hut that the discussion may have turned to the formation of an institution for mechanical engineers. It is quite probable that both the rain and the hut are a myth. It is more likely that the engineers returned to McConnell's house at Blackwell, less than half a mile away where the discussion began.

More than a decade later Samuel Smiles, in his biography of George Stephenson suggested that the IMechE was formed out of a sense of justifiable rage. Smiles wrote that the engineers present at the Lickey Incline were angry that Stephenson, the most famous mechanical engineer of the age had been refused membership to the Institution of Civil Engineers, unless he sent in "a probationary essay as proof of his capacity as an engineer". According to Smiles, Stephenson declined to submit to this indignity and as such the other engineers decided to form their own institution, that would not only include Stephenson, but put him at their head.

It took over a century to expose Smiles's account as a complete myth, or at least an exaggeration. In the 1950s after the centennial of the IMechE had made the story public, engineers at the Institution of Civil Engineers checked their records and found that although there had been a definite coolness between Stephenson and some prominent members of the ICE (Stephenson retained a distaste for London-based consulting engineers compared to "practical Northerners") there is no evidence that he ever applied for membership or that if he did, it was refused. The story appears to have been invented by Smiles some years after Stephenson's death perhaps as an illustration of the hardships faced by the early engineering establishment or to provide some drama to his work.

As well as McConnel and Bayer, Richard Peacock, superintendent of the Manchester and Sheffied railway and later a member of parliament was present at the meeting at Lickey along with George Selby and Archibald Slate from the Birmingham tube company and Charles Geach, a Birmingham Banker. The result of the meeting was a letter that was sent to all the prominent engineers across Britain. It read:

The letter was signed by McConnell, Bayer and Slate and also by Edward Humphreys of the firm Rennie's in London. Although not present at the meeting the use of his name gave the endorsement of a London Engineer, to add to the Birmingham and Manchester men, and Rennie's was an illustrious name to attach to the new institution.

On the 7th of October the meeting was held. The preliminaries appear not to have taken too long. The four signatories of the letter, plus Peacock, William Buckle from Boulton and Watt, John Edward Clift and Edward Cowper were elected to form the committee and draft the rules, with McConnell as Chairman and Slate as honorary Secretary. The meeting however was followed by a dinner. The list of toasts, beginning with Queen Victoria and the Prince consort and including a toast to the Institution of Civil Engineers, to the memory of James Watt, to George Stephenson and his son Robert, to Brunel and the health of McConnell and Slate as well as others suggest that the evening slid into genial, less than sober, sentimentality.


As of 2006, there has been 122 presidents of the Institution, who since 1922 have been elected annually for one year. The first president was George Stephenson, followed by his son Robert. Joseph Whitworth, John Penn and William Armstrong are the only persons to have served two terms. Pamela Liversidge in 1997-98 was the first – and so far only – woman president.

Past presidents include:

No. Years Name Sphere of Influence
1 1847–1848 George Stephenson railway engineer
2 1849–1853 Robert Stephenson railway engineer, MP
3 1854–1855 William Fairbairn manufacturer, trader, ironmaster, bridge, mill wheels, ships, later made baronet.
4 1856–1857 Joseph Whitworth (First term) pioneer of machine tools, precision engineering
5 1858–1859 John Penn (First term) Marine Steam engines
6 1860 James Kennedy Marine engines and locomotives
7 1861–1862 William George Armstrong (First term) Industrialist and inventor, primarily of armaments. Pioneer of domestic electricity
8 1863–1865 Robert Napier Ship building and Marine engines
4 1865–1866 Joseph Whitworth (Second term) pioneer of machine tools, precision engineering
5 1866–1868 John Penn (Second term) Marine Steam Engines
7 1868–1869 William George Armstrong (Second term) Industrialist and inventor, primarily of armaments. Pioneer of domestic electricity
9 1870–1871 John Ramsbottom railway engineer
10 1872–1873 Sir William Siemens Metallurgist and electrical engineer
11 1874–1875 Sir Frederick Joseph Bramwell Steam engines and boilers
12 1876–1877 Thomas Hawksley water and gas engineer
13 1878–1879 John Robinson Steam Engines
14 1880–1881 Edward Alfred Cowper Metallurgist, inventor of Cowper pot
15 1882–1883 Percy Graham Buchanan Westmacott Hydraulic machinery
16 1884 Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell Iron master
17 1885–1886 Jeremiah Head Steam powered agricultural machinrey
18 1887–1888 Sir Edward Hamer Carbutt Iron and steel making
19 1889 Charles Cochrane Iron and steel making
20 1890–1891 Joseph Tomlinson Locomotive Superintendent
21 1892–1893 Sir William Anderson Bridges and factories
22 1894–1895 Prof. Alexander Blackie William Kennedy Professor of engineering, University College London
23 1896–1897 Edward Windsor Richards Iron master
24 1898 Samuel W. Johnson Chief Mechanical Engineer, Midland Railway
25 1899–1900 Sir William Henry White Naval architect
26 1901–1902 William Henry Maw Editor, Engineering
27 1903–1904 Joseph Hartley Wicksteed Testing machines and machine tools
28 1905–1906 Edward Pritchard Martin Iron and steel making
29 1907–1908 Tom Hurry Riches Chief engineer, Taff Vale Railway
30 1909–1910 Sir John Audley Frederick Aspinall Chief Mechanical Engineer, Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
31 1911–1912 Edward Bayzard Ellington Hydraulic machinery
32 1913–1914 Sir Hay Frederick Donaldson Royal Ordnance
33 1915–1916 William Cawthorne Unwin oil engine research
34 1917–1918 Michael Longridge Chief Engineer
35 1919 Edward Hopkinson Electric Traction. Died during year of office
36 1920–1921 Cpt Matthew Henry Phineas Riall Sankey Military engineering, oil engines and wireless telegraphy
37 1922 Dr Henry Selby Hele-Shaw Prof. Mechanical Engineering at Liverpool University
38 1923 Sir John Dewrance Inventor
39 1924 William Henry Patchell Electricity supply
40 1925 Sir Vincent Raven Chief Mechanical Engineer, North Eastern Railway
41 1926 Sir William Reavell Compressor manufacturer
42 1927 Sir Henry Fowler Chief Mechanical Engineer, Midland Railway and London Midland and Scottish Railway
43 1928 Richard William Allen Pumps and Marine equipment
44 1929 Daniel Adamson Gears, cranes and cutting tools
45 1930 Loughnan St Lawrence Pendred Editor of The Engineer
46 1931 Edwin Kitson Clark Locomotive Engineer
47 1932 William Taylor Lens Manufacturing
48 1933 Alan Ernest Leofric Chorlton Pumps and Diesel engines, MP
49 1934 Charles Day Steam and diesel engines
50 1935 Major-General Alexander Elliott Davidson Mechanised military transport
51 1936 Sir Nigel Gresley Chief Mechanical Engineer, London and North Eastern Railway
52 1937 Sir John Edward Thornycroft Ship building and motor vehicle design
53 1938 David E Roberts Iron and steel manufacture
54 1939 E. Bruce Ball Motor Vehicles and hydraulic valves
55 1940 Asa Binns Engineer
56 1941 Sir William Stanier Chief Mechanical Engineer, London, Midland and Scottish Railway
57 1942 Col Stephen Joseph Thompson Boilers
58 1943 Frederick Charles Lea Engineering Professor at Birmingham and Sheffield Universities
59 1944 Sir Harry Ralph Ricardo Automotive engineer. Founder, Ricardo Consulting
60 1945 Andrew Robertson Prof. Mechanical engineering at Bristol University
61 1946 Oliver Vaughan Snell Bulleid Chief Mechanical Engineer, Southern Railway
62 1947 Lord Dudley Gordon Refrigeration engineering
63 1948 E. William Gregson Marine engines
64 1949 Herbert John Gough Engineering Research
65 1950 Stanley Fabes Dorey Chief Engineer Surveyor
66 1951 Arthur Clifford Hartley Chief engineer, Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. Inventor, Pluto and Fido
67 1952 Sir David Randall Pye Air Ministry research engineer
68 1953 Alfred Roebuck Engineering metallurgy
69 1954 Richard William Bailey High temperature steel and materials research
70 1955 Percy Lewis Jones Marine engines and ship building
71 1956 Thomas Arkle Crowe Marine Engines
72 1957 George Nelson Chairman English Electric
73 1958 Air Marshal Sir Robert Owen Jones Aircraft Engineer
74 1959 Herbert Desmond Carter Diesel Engines
75 1960 Sir Owen Alfred Saunders Prof. Mechanical Engineering Imperial College
76 1961 Sir Charles Hague Chairman, Babcock & Wilcox
77 1962 John Hereward Pitchford Internal Combustion engines
78 1963 Roland Curling Bond Chief Mechanical Engineer, British Railways
79 1964 Vice-Admiral Sir Frank Mason Engineer in chief, Royal Navy
80 1965 Harold Norman Gwynne Allen Power Transmission
81 1966 Lord Christopher Hinton of Bankside Pioneer of nuclear power
82 1967 Hugh Graham Conway Aero-engines and gas turbines
83 1968 Sir Arnold Lewis George Lindley Chairman of GEC
84 1969 Donald Frederick Galloway Manufacturing and machine tool engineer
85 1970 John Lamb Murray Morrison Prof. Mechanical engineering Bristol University
86 1971 Robert Lank Lickley Aircraft engineer
87 1972 Lord Donald Gresham Stokes Chief executive, British Leyland
88 1973 Sir John William Atwell Steel industry and pump manufacture
89 1974 Sir St John de Hold Elstub Metals
90 1975 Paul Thomas Fletcher Process plan and nuclear power plant
91 1976 Ewen McEwen Chief engineer, Lucas
92 1977 Sir Hugh Ford Professor of mechanical engineering, Imperial College London
93 1978 Diarmuid Downs Internal combustion engines
94 1979 James Gordon Dawson Chief Engineer, Shell
95 1980 Bryan Hildrew Managing Director, Lloyd's Register of Shipping
96 1981 Francis David Penny Director, National Engineering Laboratory
97 1982 Victor John Osola/Vaino Junani Osola Process engineer, safety glass
98 1983 George Fritz Werner Adler Research Director, British Hydromechanical Research Association
99 1984 Waheeb Rizk Gas turbines at GEC
100 1985 Sir Philip Foreman Aerospace engineer
101 1986 Sir Bernard Crossland Prof. Mechanical Engineering, Queen's University Belfast
102 1987 Oscar Roith Chief Engineer, Department of Industry
103 1988 Cecil Charles John French Internal combustion engines
104 1989 Roy Ernest James Roberts Director, GKN
105 1990 Michael John Neale Tribology
106 1991 Duncan Dowson Prof of Fluid Mechanics, Leeds University
107 1992 Tom D. Patten Offshore engineering
108 1993 Anthony Albert Denton Offshore engineering
109 1994 Brian Hamilton Kent Design and engineering management
110 1995 Frank Christopher Price Technical director
111 1996 Robert William Ernest Shannon Inspection engineering
112 1997 Pamela Liversidge Powder metallurgy
113 1998 John Spence (engineer)
114 1999 James McKnight (engineer)
115 2000 Denis E. Filer
116 2001 Tony Roche
117 2002 John McDougall
117 2003 Chris Taylor Tribology
119 2004 William Edgar
120 2005 Andrew Ives
121 2006 W Alec Osborn MBE
122 2007 John Baxter
123 2008 William M. Banks

See also


External links

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