Our history

CSES is officially known as the Chelmsford Science and Engineering Society, founded in 1920 as the Chelmsford Engineering Society (CES), but its roots go back a little before this time.

Since the end of the first world war, engineers from local companies (Marconi, Hoffmann, Crompton-Parkinson, Christy Norris etc – then all major players) would gather to discuss their interests and relevant technical matters. This group was known as the Chelmsford Junior Society of Engineers (CJSE).

The Arc Works, established in 1878, where Crompton & Co started
The Arc Works, established in 1878, where Crompton & Co started

Following a determined effort, apprentices from Crompton-Parkinson formally joined forces with Hoffmann and Marconi, and on Wednesday 13 October 1920, the Chelmsford Engineering Society was launched with a talk at the Institution of Agriculture by Tom Dann, works manager of Crompton-Parkinson, on Electric Traction. Tom also became the Society's first president.

The Hoffmann's factory circa 1950
The Hoffmann's factory circa 1950

With more than 100 members by its second year, the Society became – and remains – the hub of engineering, technology and science in Chelmsford. The 'parent' companies, now part of Chelmsford's illustrious history, have undergone many changes but keen engineers continue to meet to this day.

Marconi Works, New Street, circa 1960
Marconi Works, New Street, circa 1960

One of the Society's principal aims has always been to further the understanding of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) both within its members and to the wider world. Since its inception, the Society has held regular meetings to educate, excite and enthuse.

The 13th century barn at EEV, circa 1980
The 13th century barn at EEV, circa 1980

These were held at various venues, including the EEV (now Teledyne e2v) site for over 30 years. In the mid-90s the talks were rehomed to take advantage of the Telford Lecture Theatre at the Marconi Research (now BAE Systems) site in Great Baddow. As that era closed, the Society's relationship with Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) strengthened significantly and the majority of CSES activities started to take place there.

Society members meeting at Café Scientifique
Society members meeting at Café Scientifique

In the 1970s, the Society began to hold an annual Schools' Competition. This marked the beginning of an expansion of the Society's remit to include the encouragement of young people to develop their skills in STEM subjects and to consider careers in relevant industries. CSES is now a key provider and coordinator of STEM education activity in Essex.

The project room bustling with judges, competitors and VIPs
The project room bustling with judges, competitors and VIPs

In 2012, CSES launched Engineering Our Future (now part of My Smarter Essex), a series of mini-conferences aimed at students. Each event focuses on a particular topic, and explores how developments in science and technology apply to it. This marked the start of the latest chapter in the history of CSES: becoming a facilitator and technical authority for key stakeholders (local government, businesses, the education sector and the public) to collaborate on the issues, sectors and technologies that drive innovation and industry in the region, whilst retaining our core purpose to reveal and promote awareness of STEM in people's everyday lives and excite young people to build careers in STEM.

Harnessing the latest technology
Harnessing the latest technology at My Smarter Essex

Underpinned by sponsorship and in-kind support from organisations across Essex, and with a dedicated and growing membership, the Society's mission remains the same. However, its delivery has moved with the times, taking advantage of technology developments, as would befit an engineering society!

Below are the Presidents of our Society from its founding in 1920 to the present day.

2019-2020 Prof David Humber
2018-2019 Prof David Humber
2017-2018 Prof David Humber
2016-2017 Prof David Humber
2015-2016 Dr Mike Worboys FInstP
2014-2015 Dr Mike Worboys FInstP
2013-2014 Chris Neale FIET
2012-2013 Chris Neale FIET
2011-2012 Vic Leverett OBE
2010-2011 Vic Leverett OBE
2009-2010 Vic Leverett OBE
2008-2009 Prof P Ingle
2007-2008 Prof P Ingle
2006-2007 Dr R Woodcock
2005-2006 M B McKay FIEE
2004-2005 Prof Claudio Zizzo
2003-2004 M B McKay FIEE
2002-2003 Mr D Tennet OBE
2001-2002 Mr D Tennet OBE
2000-2001 Mr A Willis CBE
1999-2000 Mrs D Guest
1998-1999 Dr R Woodcock
1997-1998 Dr J R Mark
1996-1997 W J McClintock
1995-1996 A Carnell
1994-1995 M D Nolan
1993-1994 G C Davies
1992-1993 W J R Clark
1991-1992 J M Colston
1990-1991 H M Rosenbaum
1989-1990 G O Chalk
1988-1989 Dr J C Williams
1987-1988 M A Selfe
1986-1987 K A Chittenden
1985-1986 R B Robertson
1984-1985 R B Coulson
1983-1984 Vice Adm Sir Philip Watson KBE
1982-1983 M Jay
1981-1982 G D Speake OBE
1980-1981 I Dick
1979-1980 Mrs Beryl Platt CBE
1978-1979 T Mayer
1977-1978 E J D McCoy
1976-1977 A Briggs
1975-1976 R B Coulson
1974-1975 J W Sutherland
1973-1974 Dr D J Haines
1972-1973 F Vernon Mills
1971-1972 C H Preston
1970-1971 H R Heap
1969-1970 E L Snell OBE
1968-1969 T S Nisbet
1967-1968 M Morgan
1966-1967 A G Whitehome
1965-1966 G H Armstrong
1964-1965 S R Trevillion
1963-1964 G D Speake
1962-1963 A A Gates
1961-1962 A E Gregg
1960-1961 T Thearle
1959-1960 R J Kemp
1958-1959 R W J Benyon
1957-1958 G J Corson
1956-1957 W H Swayne
1955-1956 B N MacLarty OBE
1954-1955 R H M Barkham
1953-1954 A V Sowman
1952-1953 E G Longman
1951-1952 F P Best
1950-1951 F F Christy
1949-1950 V S Cass
1948-1949 J L Hilton OBE
1947-1948 G M Wright
1946-1947 H J Aylott
1945-1946 H Astbury
1944-1945 (War)
1943-1944 (War)
1942-1943 (War)
1941-1942 (War)
1940-1941 (War)
1939-1940 (War)
1938-1939 P Butchard
1937-1938 S H Long OBE
1936-1937 Sir Richard Redmayne KCB
1935-1936 F Christy
1934-1935 J H Johnson
1933-1934 T W Cooper
1932-1933 Lt Col C Hardie DSO
1931-1932 B St J Sadler
1930-1931 A Haskins OBE
1929-1930 Lt Col C Hardie DSO
1928-1929 H M Dowsett
1927-1928 T W Cooper
1926-1927 T Britten
1925-1926 H M Dowsett
1924-1925 T W Cooper
1923-1924 A A Campbell Swinton FRS
1922-1923 Capt H Riall Sankey CB
1921-1922 G F Barrett OBE
1920-1921 T C Dann

Note that our first President, T C Dann, was also President of the Chelmsford Junior Society of Engineers from 1919 until 1920 when the Society as we know it today was established.

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