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A History of the Society

Model making in the sense we know it today has its roots in the Industrial Revolution. Like model boat building that played an important part in the design and specification of ships for the Admiralty, early model engineering had a significant role in the evolution and dissemination of knowledge of the new technologies then being introduced. The development of model engineering as a hobby coincided with the changes in society that occurred during the latter part of the nineteenth century.

A new magazine: The Model Engineer and Amateur Electrician was first published in January 1898. Edited by Percival Marshall, this magazine rapidly gained an enthusiastic readership and soon led to a meeting of amateur engineers. This meeting was held on October 4th 1898 and resulted in the formation of the Society of Model Engineers which was subsequently renamed in 1910 to The Society of Model and Experimental Engineers to better describe the activities of the emerging Society.

The Society has survived two World Wars and has witnessed the introduction of technology that was barely a dream in 1898 including the motor car, aeroplane, wireless, television and computer. At the same time, the tools and equipment available to model engineers have improved beyond recognition. Treadle driven lathes are a thing of the past and complete CNC machining centres are beginning to appear in the amateur’s workshop. For more than 100 years members of the Society have continued to make models and apply new technologies to their work.

The Society has also changed during the last century. We own our own home: Marshall House, a large four-storey property accommodating a range of facilities for all our members to enjoy. In common with many other organisations and to protect members’ interests, some years ago the Society adopted the status of ‘Company Limited by Guarantee’. The Society’s affairs are managed by a Council of elected members headed by a Chairman.