History of Structural Engineering

History of Structural Engineering

Date published

The History of Structural Engineering Group welcomes all who are interested in structural engineering and its history.

About us

The History of Structural Engineering Group, also known as the History Study Group, has been active since 1973.
You do not need to be a member of the Institution or an engineer to join the Group which includes historians, architects, and other professionals: all members are encouraged to share their knowledge and experience. 

Five reasons to study engineering history

  1. It is interesting and gives structural engineering a cultural context

  2. It underpins our understanding of existing structures

  3. It is of increasing importance as we re-use and upgrade existing structures to maximise the value of their embodied energy

  4. It provides an opportunity to explore engineering beyond the limitations of codes of practice

  5. It gives practising engineers and students a perspective on their studies, principles, and practices


Our regular meetings consist of a 45-minute talk held online or in-person (depending on the speaker's preference), followed by an open discussion. The Group has also arranged conferences, symposia and study trips within the UK and in Europe. We also organise The James Sutherland History Lecture (formerly Star History Lecture) series.

24 April 2024 – Paul Bell on Changes in the World of the British Consulting Engineer since 1945
7 May 2024 – Graham Slade and Simon Gyde on Brunel's Temple Meads passenger shed (at the University of Bath)
10 June 2024 - Kim Rochard & Roy Porter on Hurst Castle.
01 July 2024 - To be confirmed.
04 September 2024 - Richard Williams on Eighteenth century developments in iron technology.
September 2024. To be confirmed - The original design and construction of Whorlton Bridge, 1829-31, by John and Benjamin Green, its deterioration and current restoration. Talks and site visit (to be confirmed). Charles Blackett-Ord et al. 
02 October 2024 - Bernard Espion on The history of Vierendeel railway bridges in Belgium and the Congo (held jointly with The Newcomen Society).
04 November 2024 - Nick Hill on Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings: the history, repair and regeneration of the world's first iron framed building. 
17 December 2024 - To be confirmed. 

Get involved

Contact the Group by emailing [email protected] if you would like to know more or get involved.


Watch previous History Study Group talks on the Institution's YouTube channel 
Watch recent James Sutherland History Lectures on the Institution’s YouTube channel
Download the list of James Sutherland History Lectures
Download the list of History Study Group past activities
Download the Jacques Heyman technical autobiography


Explore our training, events and resources to support you throughout your career and membership journey.