The Dickinson Memorial Lecture

Dr Dickinson

The first of the series of Memorial Lectures to commemorate the life and work of the late Henry Winram Dickinson, D Eng, MIMechE, was delivered on 12th May 1954 at the Science Museum in London by Professor Charles Singer. H W Dickinson had been a founder member of the Newcomen Society, and was its Secretary from 1920 until 1951, except for the years 1932-34 when he was its President. He was also Editor of the Society’s Transactions from the first volume (1920) until a few months before his death. He was author of more than 30 papers in Transactions.

Dr Dickinson was born in 1870 and served an apprenticeship at Park Head Steelworks in Glasgow, joining the staff of the South Kensington Museum in 1895, and rising to the position of Keeper of the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Science Museum 1924-1930. In 1939 he received from Lehigh University in the US the honorary degree of D Eng; he was presented with a gavel (now used by the Society) made from the ancient Lehigh oak.

When the Newcomen Society was founded in 1920 its success and continued existence was due in the main to his enthusiasm – an enthusiasm which inspired others to give of their best – and no-one had done as much as he to prosper its work. Having a wide range of interests himself, he was able to appreciate the enthusiasms of many specialists and to instil in them a sense of proportion, an appreciation of the history of engineering and technology as a whole, and an abiding interest in the surrounding aspects.

The 2014 Dickinson Memorial Lecture: Borrowing Brilliance -Technology Innovation across Sectors in the Early Industrial Revolution  was given by  Professor Jennifer Tann

The Society is honoured to have entertained some notable speakers. Past Dickinson Memorial Lectures include:

  • 1954             The Happy Scholar.  Charles Singer
  • 1956            The Development of Iron and Steel Technology in China.  Dr Joseph Needham
  • 1958            Sixty Glorious Years: The Impact of Engineering on Society in the Reign of Queen Victoria.   S B Hamilton
  • 1960            Roots in the Past: Factors in the Rise of the Petroleum Industry.  R J Forbes
  • 1962            Thomas Newcomen’s First Steam Engine 250 Years Ago and the Initial Development of Steam Power. Arthur Stowers
  • 1964            Railway Engineering: its Impact on Civilisation. C E Lee
  • 1966            The Industrial Monuments Survey. Rex Wailes
  • 1968            Some Reflections on Engineering Biography.  J Foster Petree
  • 1970            The History of the History of Engineering.  L T C Rolt
  • 1972            The Control of Machine Tools – A Historical Survey.  K R Gilbert
  • 1974            William Chapman (1794-1832), Civil Engineer.  Professor A W Skempton
  • 1976            The Evolution of British Dams.  G M Binnie
  • 1978            Science and the Steam Engine in the Early Nineteenth Century Reconsidered.  D S L Cardwell
  • 1980            Architectura Navalis.  Professor A R Hall
  • 1982            The Engineering Development of Rigid Airships.  Sir Alfred Pugsley
  • 1984            Was there a decline of the industrial spirit in England 1850-1939?  Professor W H Chaloner
  • 1986            From Cannon to Diamonds – A History of High Pressure Engineering.  Professor B Crossland
  • 1988            Some Steps in the Evolution of Early Iron Arched Bridge Designs.  J G James
  • 1990            The Mulberry Harbours.  Sir Alan Harris
  • 1992            Energy – The Key to the History of Engineering. Sir Hugh Ford
  • 1994            Torquemeter Applications.  R D van Millingen
  • 1996            The Development of the Linear Induction Motor.  Professor E R Laithwaite
  • 1998            Diversity and Diffusion: the transfer of technologies in the industrial Age.  R Fox
  • 2001            Capturing the Age of Industry.  Sir Neil Cossons
  • 2003            Engineering History or the History of Engineering? Re-Writing the Technological Past.  Professor David Cannadine
  • 2005            Critical Reflections on the Science-Technology Relationship.  John Krige
  • 2007            Stabilising the Leaning Tower of Pisa: the Evolution of Geotechnical Solutions.  John B. Burland
  • 2009            Broughton: from Wellington Bombers to the A380.  Andrew Levers
  • 2011            The History of the Development of Auto­motive Power and the Challenges Ahead.   Professor Julia King
  • 2014            Borrowing Brilliance: Technology Transfer across sectors in the early Industrial Revolution.  Professor Jennifer Tann
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