Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Society of Civil Engineers

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1771 The Society of Civil Engineers was founded. It was the first engineering society in the world.

1771 The first known formal meeting of civil engineers in Britain took place at the King's Head tavern in Holborn, London, when a number of the leading engineers of the time agreed to establish a Society of Civil Engineers.

The leading light of the new Society was John Smeaton who was the first engineer to describe himself as a "Civil Engineer", having coined the term to distinguish himself from the military engineers graduating from the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.

c.1792 Following its founder's death the Society was renamed as the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers

1818 Eventually the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers became more of a dining club and a group of younger engineers began to demand a better grouping to aid their profession and the Institution of Civil Engineers was formed in 1818.

1822 When William Mylne started a new Minute Book he used the heading "Engineers' Society" in the reports of each session until 1869, when he changed it to "Smeatonian Society".

1830 The Rules and Regulations issued in 1830 bore the title "Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers" for the first time, which has been its title ever since.

The Society continues to this day, mainly as a dining club of around 50 senior engineers and twelve "Gentlemen Members" which includes HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Since 1975 the Society has often met at the headquarters of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

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