History of Structural Engineering Study Group

The History Study Group was set up to discuss historical aspects of structural engineering, particularly in relation to the evolution of present day engineering methods, to learn from history to solve today’s problems and to understand old construction methods and materials. 

Membership is open to all who are interested in the history of construction, not just structural engineers. Inspired by the interests of the Group, the Institution set up an annual history lecture - the James Sutherland history lecture - which is held every year in February. A list of the past Sutherland History Lectures is available here.

Access files

Forthcoming meetings

  • 14 May Eugene Gallagher, Bill Craig and Sam Hunt on Bituminous geomembranes: their use in military contexts, historical perspectives: joint meeting with the UK Chapter of the International Geosynthetics Society
  • 11 June Presentations from younger engineers - contact hsgconvenor@acsstructures.co.uk if you would like to give a brief (10-15 minutes) presentation

Recent Topics

  • Castles and city walls of the North: conservation and forensic engineering
  • The Evolution of early structural iron in China, Russia and Wales
  • Robert Maillart: reinforced concrete revolutionary
  • Charles Drake and the concrete house
  • Architectural dilettantes? The buildings of British Engineers in India 1600-1900
  • Some New Zealand bridges
  • St Paul's: surveying the fabric
  • Any old iron [Sir Joseph Bazalgette's wrought iron coal sheds at Deptford Pumping Station and framing of the Belvedere of Halton House]
  • Fairbairn's iron girder bridges
  • S Pearson and the relationship between civil engineering and photography
  • 19th century laminated timber arch roofs
  • Thin concrete shells in France before World War 2
  • Repair and refurbishment work at Dudley Zoo
  • Restoration work at Dyrham Park near Bath
  • The new HMS Victory support structure
  • Sir John Hawkshaw - master of materials
  • The Roman Walbrook and its legacy
  • Who designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge? Fact and fiction
  • Historic gasholders in Italy
  • Henry Scott, RE, designer of the Royal Albert Hall and Kensington Museum
  • Fox Henderson
  • Luxcrete
  • Arched viaducts
  • The Structure of the Georgian London House
  • Sir John Wolfe Barry: Tower Bridge to the BSI - engineering pathways
  • William Marriott: engineer of a Norfolk railway and a pioneer of reinforced concrete
  • The Chain Bridge, Budapest web archive
  • Prestressing at Coventry Cathedral
  • Assessing structures at Liverpool Road Station, Manchester
  • The repair of masonry bridges in Cumbria
  • John Green (1787-1852) and Benjamin Green (1813-1858) - builders, engineers and architects in the North East of England
  • The Brunel Museum’s acquisition of the Thames Tunnel drawing collection and what they reveal
  • Setting out of Greek and Roman buildings and medieval cathedrals
  • Temporary works and historic structures. Joint meeting with the Temporary Works Forum (TWf)
  • Robert Hooke and Associates: investigating influences on Hooke's work
  • Robert Howlett's photography of Saltash Bridge
  • Jesse Hartley's bridges
  • Tensegrity systems: a brief history
  • Victoria Palace Theatre: from Billy Elliot to Hamilton
  • Background to BS 5975: "What's all the fuss about"? Joint meeting with the Temporary Works Forum (TWf)
  • John Baildon and the transfer of new materials and engineering structures from Britain to Prussia in the 1790s
  • Memories of a young bridge engineer - building the Humber Bridge

Previous study group meetings and events

If you are interested in joining the History Study Group, please contact:

Andrew C Smith MA CEng MIStructE
5 Tavistock Terrace
N19 4BZ                               
020 7704 6920
07913 405693


All of the pages on this website are the copyright © of The Institution of Structural Engineers.

The Institution of Structural Engineers, International HQ, 47-58 Bastwick Street, London, EC1V 3PS, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7235 4535 Fax: +44 (0)20 7235 4294
Registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales No. 233392 and in Scotland No. SC038263
Follow us on: Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Youtube The Structural Engineer Jobs