IMechE Virtual Archive

Online Resource
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Scope and Content

Engineering has helped to shape the world, our archive physical archive contains papers and artefacts which help to tell this story. For the first time, key items are free online. Curated from the Institution’s archives, the Virtual Archive showcases models, items, drawings, notebooks, photographs and documents about the history of engineering and the Institution. 3D interactive versions of artefacts are available, many of which have never been seen in public before. Themes cover automobiles, engines, industry, Institutional history and railways. You are already able to search and view hundreds of images and more will be added. From designs which sparked the Industrial Revolution to women working during in World War One, the items span the history of engineering and society. Notable items include a notebook on Peugeot racing cars - with notes on Sunbeam and Rolls-Royce vehicles. Or discover Frederick Lanchester’s drawings and notebook, which shows how early cars developed. Photographs of D Napier & Son’s engines chart the development of marine and air power. Boulton and Watt were arguably the finest Industrial Revolution era engine, their drawings are also available to search and view. You can access Charles Algernon Parsons’ steam turbine notebook, the circular letter which effectively founded the Institution and the story of the world’s first railway to rely exclusively on steam power - the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Photographs reveal how the Bhore Ghat incline, India was constructed and show where workers lived. Artefacts include a wind tunnel test model of the Golden Arrow land speed record winning car which was owned by its driver Sir Henry Segrave and unique carved railway tokens used by George Stephenson to travel the railway lines he helped to build.


This is a description of an Online Resource. Online Resources are websites that describe, interpret and provide access to archives. They often provide access to digital content but they may also describe physical materials. They usually cover a theme or topic, such as an individual, a movement, or an important historical event.

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Archivist's Note

Publisher: Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Additional Information

All images are free to use. Themes include: the Industrial Revolution; the First World War; the development of the railways; the invention of the safety lamp; early automotive designs; engine development; manufacturing; and the development of flight.