UMIST Department of Mechanical Engineering Archive

Scope and Content

Records of the UMIST Department of Mechanical Engineering. The records date from the 1970s to 2004, and are primarily committee minutes and presented papers. The department's main committees, the Academic Board, Academic Council and Undergraduate courses committee are represented.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Department of Mechanical Engineering was one of the senior academic departments of UMIST. Mechanical Engineering was a key subject for the institution, both in its university-level and vocational education work. As Vivian Bowden's Proposals for the development of Manchester College of Science and Technology (1956) contended: "The importance of this department to the College cannot be over emphasised".

The Department was one of the original members of the Faculty of Technology, formed in 1905 to oversee degree-level work. The head of the Department was a member of the University of Manchester Senate by right, and hence was able to exercise influence on academic policy (this was of some importance as the University had its own, wholly separate department of engineering within the Faculty of Science). The Department was initially headed by J.T.Nicholson (1902-1913), succeeded by Allen Field (1913-1917), G G Stoney (1917-1926) and Dempster Smith (1926-1939). The Department at this stage still undertook a considerable amount of non-degree teaching, including the ordinary and higher level certificates, which it taught between 1921 and 1964.

The post-war heads of the Department, Henry Wright Baker (1939-1960) and William Johnson (1960-1975), presided over the move to entirely university-level teaching and research. Research became increasingly important in the latter decades of the twentieth century, and the Department consistently scored very highly in Research Assessment Exercises (R.A.E.). During the 1960s, research groups were established to focus work in particular areas: originally, applied mechanics, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics, and machine tools (later reorganised as manufacturing). Machine tool engineering became a particular specialism of the Department through the work of Professor Franz Koenigsberger in the 1960s. The Department had close relations with other UMIST departments including civil engineering, polymers, instrumentation, electrical and electronic engineering, mathematics, and management studies.

Mechanical Engineering was originally located in the UMIST Main building (basement, C and D floors); it moved part of its operations to the Main building extension when this opened in the 1950s. Some operations were transferred to the Jackson St Mill in the 1950s, and the Department's materials laboratory moved to the Pariser building when this opened in 1963. In 1973, a dedicated engineering building was opened, the George Begg building, and this accommodated the thermodynamics section as well as administrative offices and undergraduate teaching facilities.

The Department's main degree was the B.Sc mechanical engineering, but by the 1980s and 1990s, there was an increasing range of specialised and joint degrees, both at bachelor's and master's level. The Department was heavily involved in teaching the undergraduate degree in engineering manufacture and management, which it taught with its VUM counterpart, and the UMIST department of management sciences. The first students were admitted to this four year course in 1978 (students spent a year in an industrial placement). A masters degree was later introduced in the same subject area. This was part of a broader focus on industry-oriented teaching and co-operation, which also saw the Department involved with the UMIST Centre for Manufacturing in the early 2000s. The Department also taught aerospace engineering jointly with the University department of engineering, before offering its own degree in 2001.

This expansion in scope was recognised by a change in title to the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Manufacturing Engineering. In 2004, the Department, along with the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering (UMIST) and the Manchester School of Engineering (VUM) became part of the School known as Mechanical, Aeronautical and Civil Engineering (MACE), within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences of the newly-merged University of Manchester.


  • TME/1 - Departmental Academic Board Minutes
  • TME/2 - Departmental Academic Council Minutes
  • TME/3 - Undergraduate Courses Committee Minutes

Access Information

A number of items in this archive are subject to access restrictions and some are closed to public inspection.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Some items in this collection may be closed to public inspection in line with the requirements of the DPA. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Acquisition Information

Transferred to the University Archives by MACE in March 2007.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.


Further accruals possible.

Related Material

Departmental Academic Board minutes of 1966-1969 may be found in TGB/2/4. Annual reports of the Department (1957-2000) can be found in the UMIST annual reports series (TOP/2), and prospectuses in the prospectus collection (TPR).

The post-2004 MACE archive is a separate collection. The Library also has custody of the papers of Professor William Johnson (uncatalogued), a former head of department.


A brief history of the Department (to 1979) can be found in David Halliwell "A historical survey of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UMIST" (UMIST 1979) [copy available in the University Archives reference collection)

Geographical Names