July 1940: The collapse of the Tacoma Narrows bridge

By Andrew Wade

One of the best-known engineering disasters resulted from a lack of knowledge of materials behaviour and of how the size of the structure would affect how it interacted with the wind

La Foudre

October 1894: The aluminium torpedo boat

By Stuart Nathan

A wonder of its day, the first aluminium military vessel, a torpedo boat, caused a stir when it appeared in the Thames. But the wonder-metal had later problems

Anti sea sickness couch

July 1877 – The Anti sea-sickness couch

By Jon Excell

Anderson’s Equilibrio Couch was designed to offer relief to green-gilled seafarers

The Horse Tank

Jan 1856 – The Horse Tank

By Jon Excell

Military minds wondering how to equip the modern soldier with the means to safely travel long distances while burdened with gadgets may like to consider reviving the idea of the horse tank - a startling concept in cavalry technology described in the first-ever issue of The Engineer.

The Hand powered submarine

March 1856 - The hand-powered submarine

By Jon Excell

Today’s submarines boast some of the most advanced propulsion systems ever developed, but back in the early days of underwater travel the means of propulsion was somewhat more primitive.

The Gun Bike

February 1896 - The gun bike

By Jon Excell

Sometimes pedestrians just get in the way of cyclists, and no amount of bell ringing, horn honking, or friendly shouting will induce them to move. In 1896 The Engineer presented a somewaht extreme solution to this problem that thankfully never saw the light of day — a bicycle with a machine gun mounted on the handlebars.’

The device was designed to protect well-heeled Victorians from the threat of stranglers

April 1857 – the garrotte-proof cravat

By Jon Excell

The murky streets of Victorian England could be a dangerous place. And in a world where strangulation was the killer’s favored technique the garrotte proof cravat provided some welcome protection


August 1915: The Board of Invention

By Stuart Nathan

The Engineer’s opinions on the foreruners of today’s Research Councils were sceptical and, to today’s eyes, surprisingly jaundiced

Headshot index pic

May 1905: Obituary of Edmund Beckett Denison, Baron Grimthorpe

By Stuart Nathan

The horologist who designed the clock of the Palace of Westminster was a formidable, combative personality but well-respected for his ingenuity and skill


March 1914: George Westinghouse

By Stuart Nathan

Our obituary of the remarkable inventor and entrepreneur George Westinghouse doesn’t mention the rivalry for which he’s best-known today

The car was described by The Engineer as 'resembling a punt'

February 1906: The valveless motor car

By Jon Excell

The early 20th century was awash with automotive innovations, some of which went onto to dominate the industry over the following decades, whilst others didn’t quite have the transformative impact their inventors expected.

blue bird

February 1927: a new land speed record

By Stuart Nathan

The Engineer was dubious about Captain Malcolm Campbell’s claim have broken the world land speed record on Pendine Sands

AVRO Lincoln

February 1946: the last of the piston-engined bombers

By Stuart Nathan

Soon to be superseded by the jet-powered V-bombers, the Lincoln represented the last gasp of WWII technology for the RAF.


January 1958: Thunder and Lightnings

By Stuart Nathan

The Engineer was dubious about the development process for the fearsome English Electric Lightning

festival of britain

November 1949: planning the Festival of Britain

By Stuart Nathan

Dripping with patriotism, The Engineer’s coverage of the Festival’s South Bank site shows Britain still wanted to seem pre-eminent in many areas

Inside one of the facility's many laboratories

October 1933: The Post Office Research Station

By Jon Excell

The Engineer reported on the opening of an r&d centre that played a starring role in some of the UK telecomms industry’s defining moments

An overhead view of the facility

October 1960: High speed wind tunnels

By Jon Excell

In October 1960, The Engineer reported on the opening of two new high speed wind tunnels at the Warton Aerodrome, near Preston. 

fire engines

September 1914: Electric emergency vehicles

By Stuart Nathan

Electric vehicles were being used by the emergency services a century ago, and were seen as the best technological option

Fisher's Washing Machines

September 1860: Fisher’s washing machine

By Jon Excell

Nearly half a century before the world’s first electric domestic washing machine was introduced The Engineer reported on a novel domestic washing machine that employed a strikingly different concept to today’s rotary machines.

David Hughes

July 1878: The invention of the microphone

By Stuart Nathan

Two prolific inventors, one still famous today, the other less so, clashed in the The Engineer over the invention of one of the key technologies of the modern world.


July 1873: High speed rail

By Jon Excell

An editorial from the early days of The Engineer illustrates our long-held obsession with rapid train travel

Christopher Cockerell, inventor of the hovercraft, pushing his prototype machine

June 1959: The birth of the hovercraft

By Jon Excell

Fifty five years ago this week The Engineer reported on the development of the first hovercraft

The rotorcyle hovers above London

May 1958: the collapsible helicopter

By Jon Excell

Small enough to be carried benath an aricraft’s wing or on a car’s roof rack the Hiller XROE 1 rotorcycle  - a collapsible singe-seat helicopter - generated great excitement when it was demonstrated in London in 1958.


April 1874: The 81-ton gun

By Stuart Nathan

Britain’s largest guns to date were designed for shipboard use aboard the Royal Navy’s latest warships

Deptford Generating Station is widely acknowledged as being the first modern power station

This week in 1930: Ferranti's legacy

By Andrew Wade

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti, the prolific electrical engineer who held 176 patents and was instrumental in bringing electricity generation to London.


March 1936: First flight of the Hindenberg

By Stuart Nathan

The maiden test flights of the Zeppelin Hindenberg gave no hint of the disaster to come


March 1917: Submarine warfare

By Stuart Nathan

As the First World War raged and following a shock attack on neutral merchant ships, the government was anxious to quell public concern about the threat to shipping posed by German U-boats

Sponsorship opportunity: Graduate Skills Roundtable

Central London, March 27th, 10.30 am

The firing of the first test missile from trials ship HMS Girdle Ness

​This week in 1959: A rare sighting of the Seaslug

By Jon Excell

The Engineer gets its first look at the The Armstrong-Whitworth “Seaslug”, the UK Navy’s first guided surface to air missile


January 1886: Blackpool’s electric trams

By Stuart Nathan

Blackpool had the first electric tram system in the UK, and it survived the vogue for removing tram systems in the 1960s. But its original technology had problems with the British seaside weather.

The Meteor set a world speed record of 606mph in November 1945

January 1946: waiting in the wings

By Jon Excell

Experimental jet-propelled aircraft were at an advanced stage of developement in the early 1940s but failed to have an impact on the outcome of the war


This week in 1939: protective works on underground railways

By Andrew Wade

The daily commute on London Underground took on a terrifying new  challenge in 1939 when the capital’s subterranean commuters ran the very real risk of being drowned during their journey.


November 1950: The Centurion Tank

By Stuart Nathan

The Engineer’s visit to the production line of Britain’s heaviest tank to date marvelled at the production process, but could have had no clue as to what a formidable machine it would turn out to be.


November 1913: Flight - It’ll never take off

By Jon Excell

A decade on from the Wright Brothers’ powered flight landmark The Engineer was unconvinced that aviation had much of a future as a civilian mode of transport.

telegraph pic 1

November 1887: The writing telegraph

By Stuart Nathan

The lack of written records from telephone calls led to the invention of a contraption which allowed handwriting to be sent down the wires


November 1917: prosthetic arms for war casualties

By Stuart Nathan

Even in the darkest days of the First World War, engineers were involved in caring for the wounded, as well as building the instruments of warfare itself

The 1382ft Electropult track

October 1946  - Westinghouse unveils the Electropult

By Jon Excell

Yet to make their mark in military or civil aerospace, electromagnetic launch systems were already under development over sixty years ago

Difference Engine

October 1871: Obituary of Charles Babbage

By Stuart Nathan

Charles Babbage may now be famous as the father of computing, but to his contemporaries at The Engineer he was a difficult, forbidding figure better known for his failures than his successes


October 1935: Harry Ricardo on the petrol engine

By Stuart Nathan

Sir Harry Ricardo was an important figure in the development of internal combustion engines, and he shared his memories of the early years of motoring in The Engineer

Fokker D VII

October 1918: Meet the Fokker

By Jon Excell

With the First World War almost over The Engineer looked in detail at The Fokker Single-Seater Biplane: a German fighter designed to replace Fokker’s rather accident-prone triplane.


September 1856: Jourbert and Bourdier’s improvements in motive power engines

By Andrew Wade

A certain degree of pleasure appears to have been derived in dismissing the efforts of two engineers as fanciful indulgance.

In its day the New Brighton lifeboat was the most powerful vessel of its kind in the world

September 1923: The world’s most powerful lifeboat

By Jon Excell

A new lifeboat for New Brighton was the most advanced of its kind in the world

Great Eastern

September 1865: The failure of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable

By Stuart Nathan

The attempt to lay a new telegraph cable across the Atlantic after the first one failed was fraught with problems. The Engineer was completely baffled.

RMS Oceanic

September 1899 - The world's largest ship

By Jon Excell

Built for the White Star Line, the RMS Oceanic was the world’s largest ship. The Engineer reported on her maiden voyage.


August 1909: First passenger flight

By Stuart Nathan

The flamboyant showman behind Britain’s early aviation history featured fleetingly in our pages

After a year-long trial the Marconi system was chosen

This week in 1936 - the dawn of TV broadcasting

By Jon Excell

The Engineer paid a visit to London’s Alexandra Palace to examine a trial of television broadcasting technology

Abbey Mills plan

August 1867: ‘A dainty palace of machinery’

By Stuart Nathan

The ornate Abbey Mills pumping station, part of Joseph Bazalgette’s emblematic London sewer engineering project, still draws the eye in East London, and in 1867 The Engineer waxed lyrical about it.


This week in 1884: The dynamite gun

By Andrew Wade

Our predecessors were far from impressed by the development of a gun designed to fire projectiles filled with dynamite or nitro-glycerine.


This week in 1894 - the world's first motoring competition

By Stephen Harris

The Engineer reported from a French contest that showcased the latest technology in the field of horseless carriages.


This week in 1909: Latham's cross channel flight attempt

By Jon Excell

Hubert Latham’s pioneering attempt to fly across the channel was unsuccessful, but at least he became the first person land a plane on a body of water


This week in 1884: Excavating the Panama Canal

By Stephen Harris

The Engineer’s report on the machines used to create one of the modern engineering wonders of the world included hints at some of the terrible troubles it would go on to face.


July 1916 - A women's engineering works

By Andrew Wade

By the middle of the First World War the outlook for female workers had changed to such an extent that two company directors proposed a factory staffed by women only


June 1920: Electrons and The Engineer

By Stuart Nathan

The first glimpses of the world inside the atom set The Engineer on a speculative path, replete with digs at pure scientists and science fiction writers and hope of new materials and inexhaustible power


This week in 1943: Repairing damaged WW2 aero-engines

By Stephen Harris

The Engineer reported on the Bristol Aeroplane Company’s efforts to restore bomber engines damaged by enemy action or crash landings.


This Week in 1916: The training of maimed soldiers

The Engineer reported how one Frenchman was determined to get maimed soldiers working again after serving in the First World War


This week in 1883: Opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, New York

By Stephen Harris

The Engineer gave a detailed report of both the engineering behind the bridge that began the architectural transformation of New York and the tragic circumstances of its construction.


May 1955 - The British motorsport industry

By Jon Excell

Stirling Moss’s victory in the Mille Miglia prompted The Engineer to indulge in some harsh criticism of the British motorsport sector


May 1912: The Titanic Inquiry

By Stuart Nathan

A letter to The Times from an eminent naval architect triggered a thoughtful article in The Engineer on compromise, risk and safety following the Titanic disaster

The Hindenburg

May 1937 - The Hindenburg disaster

By Jon Excell

The destruction of the Hindenburg brought the age of the airship to a shocking close. In 1937 The Engineer reported on the design and construction techniques behind this iconic aircraft.

DFR Sphere

A look inside the Dounreay Fast Reactor

By Stuart Nathan

The first images from inside the Dounreay Fast Reactor since it was constructed in the 1950s have been obtained. In 1955, The Engineer reported on the concepts behind the reactor, and how it was built to be safe — but not to be dismantled.

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The UK government's latest defence review has included the announcement of increased spending on aircraft and special forces units. Meanwhile, the latest HM Treasury autumn statement is expected to include deep cuts which might hit health, industry and science. Which of these statements is closest to your feelings?