Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Board of Invention and Research

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1915 The Admiralty instituted the Board of Invention and Research to assess proposals made by the public. The Board of Invention and Research (BIR) was set up on 5 July 1915 for the purpose of securing for the Admiralty, expert assistance in organising and encouraging scientific effort in relation to the requirements of the Naval Service. This might be done by concentrating scientific enquiry on definite problems, by encouraging research or by considering schemes put forward by inventors or the general public. Work supported included means of detecting submarines and investigations into aeronautics, marine engineering, anti-aircraft defence and similar matters.

Lord Fisher was President of the new Board and head of the Central Committee. Though the Secretariat of the Board remained mainly naval, the institution marked the beginning of civilian scientific participation in an Admiralty organisation. Many Fellows of the Royal Society were involved including Sir Ernest Rutherford, Sir Oliver Lodge and Sir William Crookes, who were members of the Scientific Panel. Sub-committees were divided into six main sections and dealt with such areas of research as aeronautics, submarines, naval construction, anti-aircraft devices, ordnance, gases, aerial photography, armament of aircraft and bombs, and oil fuel.

The Holland Report outlined how the Board drew on the resources of private industry, the National Physical Laboratory and other Admiralty establishments.

1918 the Directorate of Scientific Research and Experiment replaced the Board of Invention and Research and co-ordinated the various experimental stations run by the many technical departments.


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Sources of Information

  • National Archives