Julia Elton is a long standing member of the Newcomen Society and was its president from 2005-2007. She has a profound knowledge of the literature of all branches of engineering over the last three centuries in the major European languages.
An antiquarian bookseller specialising in the history of engineering from the seventeenth century, she has produced a series of scholarly annotated catalogues. She co-wrote with Frank Newby the catalogue for ‘The Engineers’, an innovative exhibition they put on at the Architectural Association. She was involved in ‘The Triumphant Bore’, an exhibition at the Institution of Civil Engineers marking the 150th anniversary of the opening of M. I. Brunel’s Thames Tunnel, and co-author of the catalogue, to which she contributed an extensive bibliography. Shortly after this exhibition she played a prominent role in the successful campaign to save the Thames Tunnel.
She wrote a chapter in the recent Robert Stephenson: the eminent engineer and a number of entries for Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers, vol. II, (2007). She is writing further entries for vol. III. Her long standing interest in lighthouse optics led to her presidential address, ‘ A Light to Lighten our Darkness’. She is now working on part 2 of the paper, “New lamps for old – light sources and fuel”. She has recently been elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and an honorary member of the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers.