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Archives of the Department of Engineering, 1892 - 2002

Reference Code: GBR/0265/UA/ENG

Scope and Contents

The records cover the full range of departmental operations, from delivery of the curriculum and examining to the building and expansion of departmental premises.


  • Creation: 1892 - 2002


Conditions Governing Access

There are generally no restrictions on access to the archives, apart from 30 years closure of records relating to confidential research projects, imposed as a condition of transfer and 80 years closure of records containing personal data, imposed under data protection legislation. Restrictions are clearly indicated in catalogue entries.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests to publish text should be addressed to the Keeper of University Archives, photographs to the Head of Digital Content Unit; both at Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR.

Biographical / Historical

The study of engineering was introduced to the University in 1783 in the lectures of Isaac Milner (1750-1820), first Jacksonian Professor of Natural (Experimental) Philosophy. He illustrated his lectures with practical demonstrations and set up a workshop for experimentation in his rooms in Queens' College. His pioneering interests were expanded upon in the lectures given by William Farrish (1759-1837), successively Professor of Chemistry, 1794-1813 and Jacksonian Professor, 1813-37 and by Robert Willis (1800-75), Jacksonian Professor, 1837-74. The Chair of Mechanism and Applied Mechanics was established in 1875 with James Stuart (1843-1913) as its first occupant; its name changed to Mechanical Sciences in 1934 and Engineering in 1966. Willis was the first to give lectures specifically designed for candidates for a degree course: the Special Examination in Mechanism and Applied Science from 1865. The Mechanical Sciences Tripos was established in 1892 and first examined in 1894. It was renamed the Engineering Tripos in 1968. In 1963 an Electrical Sciences Tripos was set up. It was renamed Electrical and Information Sciences in 1986. In 1988 a Production Engineering Tripos was established. It was renamed Manufacturing Engineering in 1989. In 1878, Stuart had been provided with a workshop, extended in 1881-2 and 1884, which he furnished, equipped and ran at his own expense, in the garden behind the Botanic Museum in Free School Lane. During the 1880s, the kernel of a Department of Mechanism emerged here with the appointment of a workshop superintendent and demonstrators. The workshop buildings were enhanced and significantly expanded in 1891, 1893 and 1901. In 1921, the Department left Free School Lane for new premises (which became known as the Inglis Building) fronting on Coe Fen, built on three acres of land surrounding Scroope House. The site was subsequently filled with extensions and new buildings, of which the most significant was the Baker Building, erected 1946-52. Since the 1960s, parts of the Department have moved out to premises on Mill Lane, Madingley Road and the Science Park. For further background information, see T.J.N. Hilken, Engineering at Cambridge University 1783-1965 (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1967).


15 linear metre(s) : paper, photograph, audio tape

Language of Materials



The archive is arranged in broad categories by function.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The archive is in sound physical condition. The metal spikes and Treasury tags, some of them rusty, in modern files have been removed in the course of cataloguing.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

ENG 1/1/1-25, 2/35/1-26, 5/1/1-9 were transferred to the University Archives in 1995 by Dr J.H. Brunton, Faculty Board Secretary, Department of Engineering. ENG 2/45/1-2 were presented by Sophie Bridges, Archivist, Selwyn College, on 28 January 2003. The remainder of the archive was transferred on 3 March 2003 by Mrs Margaret Margereson, Secretary to Professor Keith Glover, Head of Engineering Department.

Related Materials

For related material among the University Archives, see CUR 28.17, 39.34, 39.34.1, 39.54, 128; Min.VI.17, 30-1, 74-5; P.X, XIV-XVII, XVIII.12-13; Prem.VIII.13-15; Reports (passim); War 275/4. Records relating to Chemical Engineering are not part of this archive. There is a separate Department of Chemical Engineering, established in 1945, whose records are catalogued as UA CENG.


The online catalogue was completed in May 2003 and emended in November 2004 and Feb. 2005.


Department of Engineering

Finding aid date

2003-04-23 14:44:52+00:00

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom