This year is an important one for us at The Engineer. We’re marking our 160th anniversary. At the start of 1856, Edward Charles Healey, an entrepreneur with interests in railways, produced the very first edition of the journal that would persist to this day, from the first incarnation of Engineer Towers, on the Strand, a short stroll from our current location just off Oxford Street.
The world was a very different place in 1856. The age of steam was at its height, and many of the figures who shaped our modern world – Michael Faraday. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Joseph Bazalgette, Charles Babbage – were still alive (Brunel and railway engineer Robert Stephenson, son of George of Rocket fame, were friends of Healey’s). The Engineer was being produced at the heart of a mighty Empire, which at the time was still fighting the Crimean War (the Second Opium War between Britain and China would break out later in the year, as would the Anglo-Persian War, triggered by an invasion of Afghanistan; never let it be said that some aspects of history don’t repeat). But the journal – it couldn’t yet be called a magazine ‑ was founded on the principle of explaining the latest innovations in the fast-developing world of engineering and technology, as we still do.
Of course the technologies change. In 1856, several of the industries that provide much of our content today, such as aerospace, automotive and power generation, simply didn’t exist. And as for electronics, the discoverer of the electron itself, JJ Thomson, wasn’t born until the end of the year.
So through all those 16 decades, innumerable wars (including two cataclysmic ones) and several complete transformations, by technology, visionary people and ingenious organisations of the way we live our lives, The Engineer has been a constant. It’s also changed considerably, from a weekly newspaper-style publication to a glossy magazine, briefly existing only in the intangible form of an internet-only publication before returning to print as a monthly. But we are still here and we intend to celebrate.
Over the course of this year, we’ll be producing a stream of content to mark our anniversary, both online and in print, ranging from reports from our archives on iconic projects and the trend-setting debates that we have covered; to features explaining the development of key technologies through our history and forward-looking pieces looking at how trend that we can trace through our pages might continue in the coming years. We’re aiming to look both backward and forward, from the world our predecessors knew to the future they couldn’t have imagined.
We’re pleased to announce that our anniversary coverage will be sponsored by a company intimately concerned with the future of engineering, Matchtech, which as the UK’s leading engineering recruitment consultancy, does more than most to ensure that the most talented people make up the staff of the engineering sectors. To set our coverage in context, we’re also enlisting the help of the curators of one of the world’s greatest reliquaries of the history of engineering, the Science Museum, which as it happens celebrates its own 160th anniversary in 2017 (as one of our colleagues noted, its founders had obviously been inspired by this cracking new publication they’d been reading). Our commemoration will culminate in a special souvenir supplement, to be published in September and containing highlights of our anniversary coverage to date as well as special content. We hope you’ll celebrate with us.