Our History

Taken from 1921-1971 - Years of Achievement

A brief history published to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the Institution   

In his presidential address in 1920 to the Iron and Steel Institute, Dr Stead revealed that he had discussed many years earlier with Andrew Carnegie his ideas for a technical institute which would facilitate "the continual acquisition of knowledge by the staffs and workmen of the iron and steel industries". Andrew Carnegie was impressed by Dr Stead's conception and told him "he would pay for just such an institute in Middlesbrough, and equip it with the standard technological books if the directors of the industries would maintain it".

Discussions took place between Dr Stead and individual ironmasters who, while approving the scheme, would not act without further consideration. Andrew Carnegie died so his offer was no longer available. It is to the credit of the ironmasters that in spite of this they responded to the vision and enthusiasm of Dr Stead and the Cleveland Technical Institute was born.

After many years of patient perseverance and hard work the Cleveland Technical Institute opened on 22nd September 1921. By then Dr Stead's health was failing but he became the Institute's first president, a position which brought him deep satisfaction.

Iron and steel, shipbuilding and engineering were the basic traditional industries of the Cleveland area and it was to the leaders in these industries that Dr Stead made his first approaches. A joint Committee representing the Cleveland Institute of Engineers and the North-East Coast Institute of Engineers and Shipbuilders was formed and held its first meeting on 5th January 1919, in the Cleveland Club, Middlesbrough.

Members of the Joint Committee were: Cleveland Institute of Engineers - Dr JE Stead, JH Harrison, RH Archer-Coulson and RE Cowell. NE Coast Engineers and Shipbuilders - EL Ord, E Hall-Brown, Harald Dixon, EH Fraser-Smith and GM Harroway


left to right:Dr JE Stead (Founder & First President), Sir Eustace Smith (Senior Past President)


left to right:Col WH Mather (President), Sir Charles Parsons (Who opened the Institution)

The full Joint Committee 1919-1922 may be seen here.

Independent Attitude

Dr Stead presided and it was decided to find a building which would provide a home for the two institutions, that the financial commitments should be borne equally and that "the scheme should be kept clear of all civil and Governmental aid or departments whatsoever". This typical independence and determination to govern and guide the new project free from outside pressures long persisted. But changing conditions and new outlooks have brought about a different attitude and today local education authorities and civic bodies display a welcome interest and give encouragement to the Institution.

However, it was the former attitude which prevailed for many years and it was supported by October 1919 to the extent of £8,157 in subscriptions and promises for the building and £154 towards maintenance. A suggestion that the Cleveland Engineers and the local branch of the NE Coast Engineers and Shipbuilders should amalgamate was left in abeyance and has remained there for fifty years.

By February 1920, more than £10,000 had been promised, purchase of the Methodist New Connexion Chapel in Corporation Road, Middlesbrough, was agreed and the building was to be known as The Cleveland Technical Institute. Alterations to the premises were expected to to cost between £5,000 and £6,000. Agreement was also reached in principle to house other kindred societies, thus establishing at the outset the Institute's role as a sponsoring body for all appropriate technical bodies.

The considerable structural work involved and the installation of equipment and furnishings occupied more than a year and provided large and small lecture halls, a library, lounge, council room, secretary's office and quarters for a caretaker. Lt Col EL Johnson was appointed secretary-director in January 1921, and plans made for opening the premises in time for the winter programmes of the foundation societies.

Dr Stead, who had continued, in spite of indifferent health, as chairman of the Joint Committee was obliged to give up the office in March 1921, and was succeeded by Mr GM Harroway.

The formation of the Institute, the first of its kind in the country, attracted much interest and a request from the National Physical Laboratory to use the Institute as custodians of the Standards was accepted.

The opening ceremony was performed on 22nd September 1921, by Sir Charles Parsons in the presence of representatives of the two societies, leaders of local industries and civic authorities.

Several societies displayed an active interest in joining the Institute but the Joint Committee, no doubt conscious that the initiative had been theirs and that they had raised the necessary funds, felt that until the Board of Trade had approved the articles of association formal agreement with other bodies should be deferred. However, to facilitate the arrangement of winter programmes which these bodies would need to make, the Joint Committee, before the opening, notified the Society of Industrial Chemists, the Foremen and Draughtsmen's Association and the Institute of Electrical Engineers, that they would be asked to participate and could make provisional arrangements to use the premises.

Throughout its existence the Institution has been recognised by a large number of technical societies as offering unrivaled facilities. Applications to become subscribing societies are regularly received from a wide variety of organisations, sometimes presenting the Council with difficult decisions in the light of the founders' definite views of the raison d'être for its existence. Within these limitations the Council has discharged their responsibilities in a consistently helpful manner and today the two founder societies have been joined by seventeen others, making the total nineteen. No doubt, the list will grow with the increasing sophistication of scientific and technological activities, and the Cleveland Scientific Institution will extend its facilities successfully to embrace a larger number of societies and thus sustain its role as a sponsoring body.

The Board of Trade accepted the proposed articles of association but suggested the title should be changed from the Cleveland Technical Institute to Cleveland Scientific and Technical Institution. This was agreed but a further suggestion that local educational authorities should be represented on the Institute's Council was not accepted.

Minutes of the meeting in February 1922, when the matter was considered, record the Committee felt that "the administration of the Institute should be in the hands of those who found the money and that as the primary object of the Institute was the advancement of mining, metallurgical, shipbuilding and engineering sciences generally, the Institute was without the scope and competence of the Board of Education and that no useful purpose would be served by such representation".

When the Institution was incorporated on 2nd July 1923, it had a membership of 2,575: Cleveland Institution of Engineers 426, Northeast Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders 1,809, Chartered Institute of Electrical Engineers 105, Association of Foremen and Chief Draughtsmen 235.

The Objects

The Joint Committee under the inspiration of Dr Stead had a clear idea of the purposes of the Institute and enumerated them as follows:

1. To encourage and facilitate the continued technical education of the staff and employees of the various industrial works in the Cleveland and Teesside districts

2. To encourage the advancement of metallurgical, mining, engineering and shipbuilding sciences generally in the Cleveland and Teesside districts.

3. To provide lecture rooms, a technical library, equipped with standard technological textbook, a reading room, supplied with current literature bearing upon the industries of the district, committee, recreation and other common rooms for the use of the Cleveland Institute of Engineers, the Northeast Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders (Incorporated), and upon such terms as the Council may think fit, other bona-fide technical societies established or which may be established in the district, as may be admitted by the Council to enjoy any or all of the privileges of the Institute.

4. To arrange lectures for the workmen and the employees engaged in the districts on subjects relating to the local industries.

5. To encourage and to investigate and make known the nature and merits of existing inventions, improvements, processes and designs which may seem to be of use to the industries of the district.

6. To publish a bulletin, containing abstracts of all scientific papers and articles which may be of use to the industries of the district.

7. To join with or subscribe to other Societies or Institutions having like objects, to make grants of money, books etc, and awards to students.

8. To use the funds of the Institute in the employment of persons of learning or skill and and the provision and use of building and instruments and appliances, and any of the equipment of the Institute for any form of scientific study which may be considered to have any bearing, whether immediate or ultimate, upon practical problems involved in the advancement of metallurgical, mining, engineering and shipbuilding sciences generally in the district.

Reading the "Objects" the overriding concern of the promoters is immediately apparent. The young technicians are to be encouraged and stimulated to progress in their chosen careers. Facilities are to be provided which would create a common meeting place and centre for all interested in technical advance, while advancement of the main industries of the district was to be sought.

The words "advance" and "advancement" by the frequency of their use in the early records of the Institute disclose an attitude of mind common to all the original promoters. Over 50 years the initial conception has never been obscured by difficulties, and there have been many, or by inevitable changes in the constitution of the governing Council. Today the aims of the Institution remain a first priority. In a changing world they have continued to be its inspiration.

The administration of the Institution, which had hitherto been managed by the Joint Committee of representatives of the NE Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders and the Cleveland Institution of Engineers, now became the responsibility of a Council comprising representatives of the founding institutions, six representatives of the donors and representatives of the other participating societies.

The first officers of the institution were: President, GM Harroway; Vice-presidents, RH Archer-Coulson and J McGovern; Council:- Cleveland Institute of Engineers: Colonel W Hawdon, Major HG Scott, JH Harrison, RE Cowell and HB Toy; Northeast Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders (Incorporated): Sir Archibald Campbell-Ross KBE, LE Smith, EW Fraser-Smith, Tristram Edwards and FH Verrill; Chartered Institution of Electrical Engineers: AM Paton; Association of Foremen Engineers and Chief Draughtsmen: D Bailey; Donors: A Dorman, G Richie, B Talbot, WW Lyon, FP Wilson and G Hedley.

During the two years since the opening of the premises 209 meetings of technical societies had been held, including 29 "Popular Lectures".

The staff had grown to five, the director-secretary, two senior clerks, two junior clerks and the caretaker. They were all fully occupied. The library had grown to 5,100 volumes (all gifts) and 24,000 copies of the monthly bulletin, containing 1,100 extracts of the more significant articles from home and foreign technical journals, had been distributed.

Dr Stead conceived the bulletin as a means of distributing "information relating to developments in the outside world" and the Institute as a centre to which local industries should look for reliable technical information. The first issue of the bulletin observed that the Institution was the first of its kind and "we have nothing to guide us except our own commonsense, coupled with a practical knowledge of the requirements of the district, and we are not hampered by tradition".

On 31st October 1923, Dr Stead died and the Institution lost its greatest friend, counsellor and guide. But those who remained held firmly to the objectives he had set out to achieve and his inspiration has persisted through half a century.

An insignia of office to be worn by the president was presented to the Institution in 1925 by Mr RA Constantine.

Effects of Depression

The recession in trade became marked at this time and the effects of the general strike in 1929 exacerbated the financial stringency experienced by industry in general. Subscriptions from donors were appreciably reduced and economies had to be made. The services of the librarian were dispensed with and salaries of the retained staff had to be reduced. Three years later the director and secretary resigned and the Institution was carried on with reduced staff but maintaining full facilities. One casualty was the bulletin. Printing costs had risen, the larger companies were developing their own reference libraries and the Institution had not the staff available to continue the translation of extracts from foreign language technical journals.

During the war the meetings of the member societies had perforce to be curtailed but the administration was maintained and regular meetings of the Council continued to be held.

In 1943 Dorman Long endowed a triennial lecture to be known as The Harold Wright Lecture as a tribute to Dr HE Wright, the company's chief metallurgist. The endowment was to be administered under the aegis of the Cleveland Scientific and Technical Institution and would, it was hoped, be an encouragement to the Institution. The first lecture was delivered by Dr CH Desch.

Plans for Postwar Revival

It was typical of the faith of the Council in the work of the Institution that in December 1943 it was decided to call a meeting of the secretaries of all participating societies to consider postwar policy. There was a general desire to make the Institution more active.

Colonel T Eustace Smith, (later Sir Eustace), who was elected President in 1944 and held office for three years, devoted himself to reviving the Institution. Many meetings with heads of firms in the area took place and it was clear a general desire existed to improve technical activities in the area. The President was successful in enlisting financial support to renovate and improve the premises and raise the standard of furnishing.

The formation of a graduate section was keenly supported by the President and the creation of a junior section was contemplated. The graduate section soon became established but the idea of a junior section did not receive sufficient support and the proposal was not pursued.

Reorganisation of the library, which had grown steadily, was undertaken and was used increasingly by members and outside bodies and individuals.

The Library

A central objective in Dr Stead's conception of the Institution had been a well stocked library of standard technical works and current technical journals. To quote the great Doctor once again, "The real advances will be made by those who are engaged in the works, and the knowledge there gained must be supplemented continuously by study of what other men are doing and thinking, of the progress which is made week by week and year by year in every part of the world".

From the outset the Institution's library has been regarded as a most important service to members. By national standards it is, of course, small but it is readily available to local users and the library Committee have consistently maintained the quality of the carefully selected range of publications. The literature of the varied affiliated societies add to the grants made by the Institution for the purchase of books.

In 1951 substantial repairs to the building became necessary and this could only be financed by realising £1,000 of the Institution's £1,500 investments. An appeal to local industry to contribute to a building fund brought in £6,500 and enabled further repairs and improvements to be undertaken.

An outstanding feature of the history of the Institution is the generous support always forthcoming from industry in the area. Many firms have contributed regularly over half a century.

The 'Fifties' was a period of difficulty during which the Council was occupied with major improvements to the amenities provided for the subscribing member societies. Related to this were urgent problems of repair and delayed maintenance of the structure with their attendant financial implications.

As so often in the past the Council regarded provision of adequate facilities as first priority, believing financial backing would come from donors and societies. Extensive roof repairs, redecoration of the interior of the building, improved lighting in the lounge and library and new chairs for the Large Hall were undertaken. A new boiler was necessary and the House and Finance Committee commissioned a comprehensive survey of the building.

Improved Facilities

By the middle of the decade the tower was removed and the entrance to the building improved. Early signs of inflation were manifest in rising costs of administration as well as maintenance and increased contributions by donors became essential. Beyond any doubt at this time the Institution was living well behind its means. An increase of 50% in per capita subscriptions was decided in 1956 but no benefit accrued until 1958/59 and, meantime, the Institution was running a deficit of £150 per annum, a considerable sum in those days. An appeal to the donors for further support, which is a recurrent theme in this record, brought an increased income of £585.

Various plans for further development of facilities had to be left in abeyance. A helpful development, short lived though it proved to be, was exemption from rates. In 1964, however, the Institution became again liable under the Rating and Valuation Act 1961, to payment of rates, thus imposing a substantial burden on finances.

The Board of Trade in 1960 asked for a revision of the articles of association which had been outdated by legislative acts. It was not until 1965 that the new articles were completed and under them the title of the Institution was changed to "The Cleveland Scientific Institution", the word "technical" being discarded after 44 years of honourable recognition.

In 1960 Mrs BC Bond was appointed secretary. She was responsible for the day to day running of the Institution and, like her three predecessors, Miss ID Peterson, Mr JD McKenna, and Lt Col EL Johnson, showed complete commitment to the well being of the members and the traditions of the Institution.

An honours board bearing the names of Presidents of the Institution was presented by the Furness Shipbuilding Co Ltd and adorned the lounge, preserving for succeeding generations the names of many who gave long and valuable service to the Institution.

Many of the donor firms who contributed initially to the Institution's formation are still doing so and have been joined by others. To meet this situation the donors' representatives on Council were raised from six to eight.

Lounge - Showing entrance to Library, another view of the Lounge

The Small and Large Halls

Accord with Local Education Authority

In the same year, 1962, the Director of Education, Middlesbrough, invited the Institution to nominate a representative of the Governing Council of the Constantine Technical College. This recognition of the Institution's contribution to scientific and technical education was greatly appreciated.

Attempts to secure relief from rates were not successful because of technical difficulties but the Local Authority, concerned to assist the Institution, suggested an application to the Education Authority for a grant to be made. This was done and a grant of £500, which has been repeated annually, was awarded to the Institution. A similar grant of £50 per annum has been given by the North Riding Education Authority.

A meeting in 1965 with the Director of Education, Mr ED Mason, and the Principle of the Constantine College, Dr J Houghton, brought the Institution and the Local Education Authority together on a closer basis than had hitherto existed. The Institution was assured that the Local Education Committee regarded the Institution as a prominent and valuable asset to Teesside and one to be preserved at all costs. There was no question of the Institution's facilities being replaced or duplicated by the Constantine College or any other establishment envisaged by the Local Education Authority in the foreseeable future.

The Institution became a registered charity in 1967, changing its status from that of a friendly society.

In spite of these preoccupations - to which was added the probability that, because of road developments the Institution would have to be relocated - the Council pursued its policy of providing the subscribing societies with facilities and amenities superior to any locally available.

Re-lighting of the Large Hall was financed almost entirely by subscribing societies. Later, improvement of the acoustics in the Large and Small Halls was affected by installing suspended ceilings, and at the same time rewiring was undertaken and the floors renovated. It was hoped better facilities in the Large Hall would enhance its attractions for daytime courses and seminars. Contributions of £334 were received towards the cost of these works.

A Unique Institution

This factual record of the achievements of the Cleveland Scientific Institution, of the difficulties surmounted and the continuing support of donors and the 19 subscribing societies show clearly the unique place the Institution occupies in the life of the community.

In the near future the major decision the Institution will have to take is likely to be its relocation. The matter has already been given prolonged and careful study by the Council. The Societies will be kept fully informed and they and the donors may be sure the Council will preserve and promote the interests of the Institution so that its unique character and identity is preserved and its prospects over the next 50 years are assured.

Alfred Clayton Hill Scholarship

This scholarship, the only one in the gift of the Cleveland Scientific Institution, was founded by Mr Walter Sacker Hill in memory of his father, Mr Alfred Clayton Hill. The legacy for this purpose passed to the Institution in May 1965 when £2,250 was received from the estate of Mr Walter Sacker Hill.

A scholarship of £100, accompanied by an engraved medal, was created to fulfill the testator's desire to promote and encourage technical and scientific education and the advancement of young men who are training to become blastfurnace technicians.

The first annual award was made in 1966.


Postscript

Research has identified interesting links referencing Dr J.E.Stead:

-   His brother  Mr W.T.Stead was an ex-editor of the Northern Echo, and went down with the Titanic. See  link. He was on his way to speak at a meeting on 'World Peace' in Carnegie Hall, New York.

-  There is also an interesting website on his brother W T Stead here.

-  See also the wikipedia entry.

-  Dr J E Stead was appointed Fellow of the Chemical Society - see procedings.

-  According to this link , it was one of Dr Stead's sons, Frederick Arnold Stead who donated his family home to become the Stead Memorial Hospital, Redcar.