About the Cornish Institute of Engineers

Mission statement

To quote from our constitution: 'The Institute shall devote itself to the advancement of all branches of Engineering and the exchange of information and ideas concerning the foregoing by arranging meetings for the presentation of papers and films, and coordination with interested bodies of existing and new engineering activities.' To this end, meetings and events may on occasion be held jointly with other bodies holding similar aims.

These are the essential aims and philosophy of the Institute. It is generally considered that, over its long history, these objectives have been achieved and it is hoped to do so for many years into the future.

There follows a summary of the history of the Cornish Institute of Engineers. For more detailed information on this and much other relevant local activity, the Institute has started to build an information hub that may be viewed and searched at www.thecornishengineer.com.

Origins and history

The origins of the Institute go back to the Camborne Association of Engineers, a small but prestigious body existing in the early years of the 20th century and composed mainly of mechanical engineers. On 2 November 1912, a special meeting of this Association was held at the Mining School, Camborne, and a decision made to enlarge their scope. At a general meeting on 4 January 1913, the Principal of the Camborne School of Mines, J.J. Berringer, led a discussion on the "Assaying of Tin in Mines". At this meeting sufficient support was achieved and the Cornish Institution of Mining, Mechanical and Metallurgical Engineers was formed and met under its first President, Josiah Paull, on 1 March 1913.

Initial aims and activity

The Institute at once assumed a commanding position in monitoring the progress of mining activities in the County, with papers being delivered by persons of standing such as Josiah Paull, J.J. Berringer and William Thomas. It was keen to cover all aspects of mining activity, with mining, mechanical and metallurgy proportionately represented on the governing body. Initially there were 130 Members including 30 Associates.

To quote from the Presidential address of the late F.C.Cann, Manager of Geevor Mine, in 1926: "The papers and reported discussions formed valuable contributions to engineering literature, some of them having since been referred to as mining classics".

A further quote from the same source may convey the importance with which the Institute was regarded when he says that "in general we may claim that our endeavours have materially furthered the great modern objectives of spreading the knowledge of mining engineering in all its branches, as well as bringing before the public the actual and potential value of the minerals in the county awaiting development. I make bold to say that our efforts have benefited and hastened the advancement of the mining industry in the county to a much larger extent than is generally supposed, or the Institute is given credit for."

The early work done by the Council and the Secretaries was immense. Transactions were compiled and published and were highly regarded, making interesting reading today, copies being available at request in the Tremough Campus library.

Survival through the Great War

The outbreak of the Great War in 1914 brought many difficulties, but the institute survived and made important contributions to the Metallurgical Research Scheme administered by the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy to further the war effort. A Cornish Tin and Tungsten Research Committee was formed on which a number of the Institute members sat.

The 1914 - 1918 War was followed by a serious depression and the Institute played a supportive role, making generous donations to the Mining Division Unemployment Fund. During this period, a number of tragic events occurred, including the Levant Mine disaster when contributions were made to the Relief Fund.

Later, in the 1920's the Institute played a very active role in resuscitating the mining industry in the Camborne - Redruth area.

Renamed The Cornish Institute of Engineers

It had been soon decided to rename the institute the Cornish Institute of Engineers (CIE) so as to encompass all engineering disciplines and this took place in 1923. In that year it organised, unaided, the Cornish section of the International Exhibition in London with great success.

More recently, during the Second War, the Cornish Institute of Engineers was again consulted and assisted Government in its plans for maintaining stocks of strategic minerals.

In the post war years the institute was very active in organising symposiums and publishing transactions. These have included for example "Celtic offshore oil and gas exploration symposium and exhibition" in 1973. Another, in 1975, was the Mining and Quarrying Symposium.

The institute has collaborated with the University of Exeter Press in publication of the late J.H. Trounson's book 'Areas of Cornwall of Mineral Potential'.

Close relationship with the Camborne School of Mines

Since the 1970's, the Camborne School of Mines (CSM) had been sited at Trevenson, Pool, near Camborne and CIE lectures were mainly presented at the lecture theatre there. The Trevenson site closed in 2004 and CSM has continued with teaching and research at the Combined Universities in Cornwall campus at Tremough near Penryn. Here CSM forms part of the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences of the University of Exeter.

After a short period of holding all lectures in the Camborne area, the CIE took steps to re-establish the long-standing close association between the Institute and CSM by holding the events at the Tremough campus and we currently receive a healthy level of interest and participation from CSM staff and students. Many of the lectures continue to have great relevance to mining and minerals.

Local Society of IOM3

In 2012 the CIE affiliated with the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) through a complete merger with the SW Institute of Mining & Metallurgy, an interesting reflection of the joint working with the original IMM during the Great War, if in less challenging circumstances. This is part of the CIE Council's strategy for re-invigoration of the Institute as we move through its second century.

Exploring technological innovations

The early emphasis within the CIE was naturally on mining and its associated operations, but the Institute has always since inception aimed to provide a platform for all aspects of engineering and other progressive activities.   While our lectures still feature a considerable range of traditional mining and mineral-related topics, the Institute is keen to explore areas such as electrical and mechanical engineering, technological innovation, fundamental science, computational techniques, energy source development and usage, and health, safety and environmental management.