Civil engineers celebrate 125 years in the North East

ICE North East is celebrating 125 years since the foundation of its regional branch.

Past Chairs of ICE North East with Director General Nick Baveystock and current Chair Graham Yates.
Past Chairs of ICE North East with Director General Nick Baveystock and current Chair Graham Yates.

The ICE was first constituted in the North East in 1891, having been founded in London 73 years earlier, however civil engineering was already long established in the region. John Smeaton, regarded as the father of civil engineering built a smelt mill in Langley-on-Tyne in 1768, and a bridge in Hexham between 1777 and 1790.

George Stephenson, perhaps the North East's most famous civil engineer was born in Wylam in 1781, and went on to build the Stockton and Darlington Railway, with many of his innovations influencing the future of rail travel, even today.

George's son Robert was born at Willington Quay in 1803, famous for Stephenson's Rocket and considered to be the greatest engineer of the 19th century, he became the President of the ICE in 1857. The ICE in the North East now presents an award named after him, to recognise excellence in engineering.

At a celebratory reception at Newcastle's Royal Station Hotel, Nick Baveystock, the Director General of the ICE, congratulated the institution in the North East and paid tribute to their regional organisation, which is made up of volunteers and supported by a small professional staff. It has a membership in excess of 2,000.

Mr Baveystock singled out their regional education team for particular praise, citing their visits to schools to teach children about civil engineering, and promote the profession as a future career for the region's young people. Continuing on the theme of education he congratulated a number of student ICE members on being awarded scholarships.

Nick Baveystock said: "125 years of continuous operation is a huge milestone for any organisation, but particularly special when it's your own organisation. Our profession has changed and grown immensely over the past century and a quarter, but the basic principles that underpin it are the same. We still design, build and maintain the infrastructure that our society depends on."

ICE North East Regional Director Penny Marshall said: "This is a very special year for the ICE in the North East. Our organisation in the region is stronger than ever. We work to develop our members, so they can improve the region's infrastructure, and at the same time we work with schools, colleges and universities to find the next generation of civil engineers, who will build the infrastructure of the future"