Skip to main content

Earth and Environmental Sciences

Cornish Institute of Engineers

The Cornish Institute of Engineers was founded in 1913 as the Cornish Institution of Mining, Mechanical and Metallurgical Engineering, with the aim to advance all branches of engineering and promote the exchange of information and ideas.

The Institute maintains a continuous programme of high quality lectures and events for members as well as the general public and to encourage young people to consider this career path.

Annual subscription

The annual subscription for membership is £10.00 payable on 1 January. Academic qualifications are not a prerequisite for membership, but an interest in engineering is essential.

Lectures and visits

To see the current programme of events to be put on by the Cornish Institute of Engineers, please visit one of the following websites:


To give a brief overview, the Institute's executive consists of: President with Senior and Junior Vice Presidents, Treasurer and Secretary together with up to 15 council members. Normally around seven lecture meetings are held each year monthly on Thursday evenings and Autumn and Spring industrial visits may be undertaken.

The Cornish Institute of Engineers is not a professional institution in itself and there are no qualifying membership requirements except an interest in engineering, although as a local society affiliated to the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining some activities may count towards professional aspects of IMMM membership (that must be taken up separately).

Present subscription is kept low at £10 per year commencing in January.

We can say that we are the oldest and only Institute in Cornwall maintaining a continuous programme of lectures of very high quality, and present attendances of members and guests has been very encouraging.


Meetings are advertised in all library branches, many industrial companies, the local weekly press, the Morning News, the County archive, What’s on in Cornwall, Radio Cornwall, Cornwall Independent Radio, and on the CSM website.


Origins and history

The origins of the Institute go back to the Camborne Association of Engineers; a small but prestigious body existing in the early years of the 20th century and composed mainly of mechanical engineers.

On 2 November 1912, a special meeting of this Association was held at the Mining School, Camborne, and a decision made to enlarge their scope. At a general meeting on 4 January 1913, the Principal of the Camborne School of Mines, J.J.Berringer, led a discussion on the 'Assaying of Tin in Mines'. At this meeting sufficient support was achieved and the Cornish Institution of Mining, Mechanical and Metallurgical Engineers was formed and met under its first President, Josiah Paul, on 1 March 1913.

Initial aims and activity

The Institute at once assumed a commanding position in monitoring the progress of mining activities in the County, with papers being delivered by persons of standing such as Josiah Paul, J.J.Berringer and William Thomas. It was keen to cover all aspects of mining activity, with mining, mechanical and metallurgical proportionately represented on the governing body. Initially there were 130 Members including 30 Associates.

To quote a former President, "The papers and reported discussions formed valuable contributions to engineering literature, some of them having since been referred to as mining classics".

A further quote from the same source may convey the importance with which the Institute was regarded when he says that "in general we may claim that our endeavours have materially furthered the great modern objectives of spreading the knowledge of mining engineering in all its branches, as well as bringing before the public the actual and potential value of the minerals in the county awaiting development. I make bold to say that our efforts have benefited and hastened the advancement of the mining industry in the county to a much larger extent than is generally supposed, or the Institute is given credit for."

This was said in his Presidential address in 1926 by the late F.C.Cann, Manager of Geevor Mine.

The early work done by the Council and the Secretaries was immense. Transactions were compiled and published and were highly regarded, making interesting reading today, copies are available in the Tremough Campus library.

Survival through the Great War

The outbreak of the Great War in 1914 brought many difficulties, but the Institute survived and made important contributions to the Metallurgical Research Scheme administered by the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy to further the war effort. A Cornish Tin and Tungsten Research Committee was formed on which a number of the Institute members sat.

The 1914-1918 War was followed by a serious depression and the Institute played a supportive role, making generous donations to the Mining Division Unemployment Fund. During this period, a number of tragic events occurred, including the Levant Mine disaster when contributions were made to the Relief Fund.

Later, in the 1920s the Institute played a very active role in resuscitating the mining industry in the Camborne-Redruth area.

Renamed The Cornish Institute of Engineers

It had been the intention for many years to rename the Institute the Cornish Institute of Engineers (CIE) so as to encompass all engineering disciplines and this was finally achieved in 1923. In that year it organised, unaided, the Cornish section of the International Exhibition in London with great success.

More recently, during the Second World War, the Cornish Institute of Engineers was again consulted and assisted Government in its plans for maintaining stocks of strategic minerals.

In the post-war years the Institute was very active in organising symposiums and publishing transactions. These have included for example 'Celtic offshore oil and gas exploration symposium and exhibition' in 1973. Another, in 1975, was the Mining and Quarrying Symposium.

The Institute has collaborated with the University of Exeter Press in publication of the late J.H.Trounson's book 'Areas of Cornwall of Mineral Potential'.

Close relationship with the Camborne School of Mines

The Camborne School of Mines (CSM) site at Trevenson, Pool closed in 2004. Much of CSM has continued with teaching and research at the Combined Universities in Cornwall campus at Tremough near Penryn. Here CSM forms part of the Faculty of Environment, Science and Economy of the University of Exeter.

The CIE is currently reviving the close association between the Institution and CSM, and we retain a healthy level of interest and participation from CSM staff and students. The CIE now holds some of its lectures in the Opie building of Cornwall College at Pool, only a short distance away from the former CSM site, for which we express our gratitude to the Principal. Other lectures, generally those with a greater relevance to mining and minerals, are held at the Tremough Campus, near to the current CSM. The CIE has recently affiliated with the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IMMM), an interesting reflection of the joint working with the original IMM during the Great War, if in less challenging circumstances.

Exploring technological innovations

The early emphasis within the CIE was naturally on mining and its associated operations, but the Institute has always since inception aimed to provide a platform for all aspects of engineering activities. While our lectures still feature a considerable range of traditional mining- and mineral-related topics, the Institute is keen to explore technological innovation issues, computational techniques, energy source development and usage, and health, safety and environmental management, for example.

To quote from its constitution, 'The Institute shall devote itself to the advancement of all branches of Engineering and the exchange of information and ideas concerning the foregoing by arranging meetings for the presentation of papers and films, and coordination with interested bodies of existing and new engineering activities.' To this end, meetings and events may on occasion be held jointly with other bodies holding similar aims.

These are the essential aims and philosophy of the Institute. It is generally considered that, over its long history, these objectives have been achieved and it is hoped to do so for many years into the future.

The John Trounson Memorial Prize

One additional function of the CIE is the award of medals and prizes for outstanding achievements. The John Trounson Memorial Prize of £200 to the best student achieving a minimum high standard on the MSc mining course at CSM is one. The West Medal for outstanding papers on mineral processing is another. The Institute is also closely associated with the Cornwall Industrial Trust, started by Hugh Stapleton, which is chaired by the President, and which is able to make grants to students.



Prof Frances Wall

Telephone: 01326 371831 (work)



Mrs Claire Yelland

Telephone: 01326 753143