Institution of Mechanical Engineers

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Institution of Mechanical Engineers
ImechE logo.png
Established 27 January 1847 (1847-01-27)
Founder George Stephenson
Type Mechanical engineering professional association
Professional title
Chartered Mechanical Engineer
Headquarters 1 Birdcage Walk, Westminster, London, SW1H 9JJ
Region served
Services Professional accreditation
106,000 (Correct as of February 2014)
Key people
Group Captain Mark Hunt, President;
Stephen Tetlow, Chief Executive

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) is an independent engineering society, headquartered in central London, that represents mechanical engineers. With over 106,000 members in 140 countries, working across industries such as railway, automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, energy, biomedical and construction, the Institution is licensed by the Engineering Council (EngC) to assess candidates for inclusion on its Register of Chartered Engineers.

The Institution was founded at the Queen's Hotel, Birmingham, by George Stephenson in 1847 (following an informal meeting at locomotive designer Charles Beyer's house in Cecil Street, Manchester). It received a Royal Charter in 1930. The Institution's headquarters, purpose-built for the Institution in 1899, are situated at One Birdcage Walk, London. The first woman to be elected to the Institution was Verena Holmes in 1919.[citation needed]


George Stephenson

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers was founded on 27 January 1847, in the Queen's Hotel next to Curzon Street railway station in Birmingham by the railway pioneer George Stephenson and others.[1] The founding of the Institution is said to have been spurred by outrage that George Stephenson, the most famous mechanical engineer of the age, had been refused admission to the Institution of Civil Engineers unless he sent in "a probationary essay as proof of his capacity as an engineer".[2] However this account has been challenged as an exaggeration: though there was certainly coolness between Stephenson and the Institution of Civil Engineers, it is more likely that the motivation behind the founding of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers was simply the need for a specific home for the growing number of mechanical engineers employed in the burgeoning railway and manufacturing industries.[2]

Charles Beyer proposed that George Stephenson become the Institution's first President in 1847,[3] followed by his son, Robert Stephenson, in 1849. Beyer became Vice President and was one of the first to present papers to the Institution;[4] Charles Geach was the IMechE's first treasurer. Throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries some of Britain's most notable engineers held the position of President, including Joseph Whitworth, Carl Wilhelm Siemens and Sir Harry Ricardo. It operated from premises in Birmingham until 1877 when it moved to London, taking up its present headquarters on Birdcage Walk in 1899.[5]

One Birdcage Walk

One Birdcage Walk

Upon its move to London in 1877, the Institution rented premises at No 10 Victoria Chambers, where it remained for 20 years. In 1895 the Institution bought a plot of land at Storey's Gate, on the eastern end of Birdcage Walk, for £9,500.[6] Architect Basil Slade looked to the newly completed Admiralty buildings facing the site for inspiration. The building was designed in the Queen Anne, 'streaky bacon', style in red brick and Portland stone. Inside, there were several features that were state of the art for the time, including a telephone, a 54-inch fan in the lecture theatre for driving air into the building; an electric lift from the Otis Elevator Company, and a Synchronome master-clock, which controlled all house timepieces. In 1933 architect James Miller, who also designed the neighbouring Institution of Civil Engineers, remodelled the building, expanding the library and introducing electric lighting.

The building would go on to host the first public presentation of Frank Whittle's jet engine in 1945.[7] In 1943 it became the venue for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers' (REME) planning of Operation Overlord and the invasion of Normandy.[8]

Today One Birdcage Walk hosts events, lectures, seminars and meetings in 17 conference and meeting rooms named after notable former members of the Institution, such as Frank Whittle, George Stephenson and Charles Parsons.

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)
  • 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 (EngTech) 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.


The Engineering Heritage Awards were created in 1984 to help recognise and promote the value of artefacts, locations, collections and landmarks of significant engineering importance.

The Institution also runs the Manufacturing Excellence (MX) Awards,[9] and Formula Student, the world's largest student motorsport event.


Annual dinner of the Institution in the carriage works of the Midland Railway at Derby in 1898. Samuel Johnson, the railway's Chief Mechanical Engineer was the institution president.

As of 2014, there has been 129 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 female president and Professor Isobel Pollock became the second in May 2012.

Past presidents

Pamela Liversidge, First female President (2014 photograph)
N 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 G. B. Westmacott Hydraulic machinery
16 1884 Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell Iron master
17 1885–1886 Jeremiah Head Steam powered agricultural machinrey
18 1887–1888 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 B. 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 Metal Fatigue, 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[10]
79 1964 Vice-Admiral Sir Frank Mason Engineer in chief, Royal Navy
80 1965 Harold Norman Gwynne Allen Power Transmission
81 1966 Lord 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 Lang Lickley Aircraft engineer
87 1972 Lord 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
114 1999 James McKnight
115 2000 Denis E. Filer
116 2001 Tony Roche
117 2002 John McDougall MD of WS Atkins
117 2003 Chris Taylor Tribology
119 2004 William Edgar[11] Offshore engineering
120 2005 Andrew Ives[12] Automobile engine electronics
121 2006 W. Alec Osborn MBE[13][14]
122 2007 John Baxter nuclear engineer
123 2008 William M. Banks[15] Composite materials. Professor, University of Strathclyde[16]
124 2009 Keith Millard[17]
125 2010 John Wood[17] Automotive
126 2011 Roderick Smith[18] Rail engineer
127 2012 Isobel Pollock[19] Engineering management
128 2013 Patrick Kniveton[20] Nuclear Engineering - Rolls Royce

Engineering Committees

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has a number of committees that work to promote and develop thought leadership in different industry sectors. The Institution has 8 divisions: - Aerospace, Automobile, Biomedical Engineering Association, Construction & Building Services, Manufacturing Industries, Power Industries, Process Industries and Railway.[21]

Biomedical Engineering Association (BmEA) aims to bring together key workers from both medicine and engineering to discuss the latest advances and issues, to enable networking among different industry leaders, and to promote the field of Medical Engineering, also known as Bioengineering or Biomedical Engineering, to government, healthcare professionals and the wider public. This committee offers:

  • seminars, lectures and conferences every year;
  • the Journal of Engineering in Medicine;[22]
  • the annual Student Project Competition.

The Railway Division was formed in 1969 when IMechE amalgamated with the Institution of Locomotive Engineers.[23]

See also


  1. Cragg, Roger (1997). Civil Engineering Heritage: Wales and West Central England: Wales and West Central England, 2nd Edition. Thomas Telford. p. 194. ISBN 0-7277-2576-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Pullin, John (1997). Progress through Mechanical Engineering. Quiller Press. p. 3. ISBN 1-899163-28-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Beyer proposing Stephen as President".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Grace's Guide; Charles Beyer Obituary 1887".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. History of the IMechE
  6. History of One Birdcage Walk
  7. Frank Whittle Biography
  8. History of One Birdcage Walk
  9. Manufacturing Excellence (MX) Awards
  10. Bond R.C. "A Lifetime With Locomotives", Goose & Son 1980
  11. "Biography of William Edgar CBE" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2005-03-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Biography of Andrew P Ives" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-05-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Presidential Address pdf[dead link]
  14. Biography[dead link]
  15. Biography pdf
  16. University of Strathclyde staff profile:Prof William M. Banks
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Presidential addresses". Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Retrieved 13 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 126th President of the Institution: Professor Rod Smith. (2011-05-26). Retrieved on 2013-10-29.
  19. IMechE Professor Isobel A Pollock 127th President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  20. IMechE Professor Patrick Kniveton 128th President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  21. IMechE industries page
  23. IMechE railway page

External links