Welcome, Guest


This page now contains details of upcoming SMEE events for second half-year 2018.


Using the Clarkson T&C grinder 

Owing to high demand, arrangements for this course have now changed and it will be run in several small-group sessions.  If you have registered interest then you should be contacted soon.  Otherwise please contact the workshop group for further information.


14th July 2018

09:00   Day 3 Polly course


21st July 2018

10:30   Digital Group online


28th July 2018

14:00   Model running, including Gauge 1


17th – 19th August 2018

SMEE at Bristol MEX


1st September 2018

11:00 Council Meeting

14:30 Society General Meeting

Talk – Rise and Fall of King Cotton – an Engineering and Family History by Roger Backhouse

Roger will need no introduction to SMEE members, having been a member of the Society for many years and currently doing a great job in managing our publicity efforts. He has given previous talks which were very well received, combining his interest in engineering and history.  Three generations of Roger’s family worked in the cotton industry, including his grandfather as Engineer in Charge at a weaving mill. In this talk he will mix an account of the rapid rise of the Lancashire cotton industry with some of the engineering involved before describing its catastrophic decline. 


8th September 2018

09:00   Day 4 Polly course


15th September 2018

14:00   Model running, including Gauge 1


22nd September 2018

09:00  Milling Course

10:30   Digital Group online


26th September 2018

11:30  Society Autumn Visit to the Postal Museum and Mail Rail

The Mail Rail visit is currently sold out.  Please contact Norman Billingham if you want to be put on a reserve list 

The autumn visit will be to the Postal Museum in London.  We have a self-guided Galleries visit from 11:30, followed at 12.55.by a ride on the Mail Rail.

The museum is located near Mount Pleasant (Farringdon). It is the public identity of the Postal Heritage Trust, a charity that took over the management of the heritage of what was then Royal Mail in 2004 and looks after the heritage collections of the Post Office. 

Mail Rail is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge, driverless underground railway built by to move mail between sorting offices. The line ran from Paddington Head District Sorting Office in the west to the Eastern Head District Sorting Office at Whitechapel in the east, a distance of 6.5 miles (10.5 km). It had eight stations, the largest of which was underneath Mount Pleasant, but by 2003 only three stations remained in use because the sorting offices above the other stations had been relocated.  We get a 15 minute ride.

The (group rate) cost of the visit is £13.50 payable at time of booking. Numbers are limited to 20 people.


29th September 2018

10:30 Society visit to Guildford MES at Stoke Park


6th October 2018

11:00 Council Meeting

14:30 Society General Meeting

Talk – William Fairbairn – a Great Nineteenth-Century Engineer by Richard Byrom

From a poverty-stricken Scottish background and an apprenticeship with a colliery millwright, William Fairbairn became one of the greatest engineers of the nineteenth century, and the best-known living engineer in the 1860s. How did this occur? In the second and third quarters of the century he was the leading international builder of mills with their prime movers – waterwheels and steam engines – and power transmission; and the leading research engineer undertaking the first major experiments on wrought-iron plates, riveted joints, creep, buckling, fatigue, the resistance of boiler flues to collapse and the density of steam at different temperatures. His work was recognised by honorary degrees from Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities and a Royal Society Gold Medal. He was also the leading iron shipbuilder during the critical decade 1835-44, and a major influence in wrought-iron bridge construction during the important decades 1845-65. In addition he built dockside and shipyard cranes and locomotives; and trained five men who went on to be professors of engineering and two others who were knighted for their services to engineering.  Fairbairn was both eye-witness and participant in the revolution from water, wind, horse and man-power to steam power; from hand tools to machine tools, rule-of-thumb to theoretical calculations; from wooden sailing ships to iron steamers, horse-drawn coaches and canal barges to a national rail network; from King’s Messenger to international telegraphy, balloons to the first wind tunnel; and from cast-iron, via wrought-iron, to steel.

Richard Byrom has spent his working life in construction, achieving chartered status as an architect, surveyor and arbitrator, and leading the multi-disciplinary consultancy Byrom Clark Roberts where several of his colleagues were chartered civil or structural engineers. He was introduced to William Fairbairn as an undergraduate in Manchester and went on to gain an MPhil and PhD in Fairbairn studies. He remains fascinated by this remarkable engineer.


7th October 2018

Celebration of SMEE 120. Golden Arrow dining train on Bluebell Railway.

For details see Society Journal


13th October 2018

09:00   Day 5 Polly course


18th-21st  October 2018

SMEE at Midlands MEX


20th October 2018

10:30   Digital Group online


27th October 2018

14:30 Rummage/disposal sale (viewing from 11:30)


3rd November 2018

11:00 Council Meeting

14:30 Society General Meeting

Talk – Designing and  Building the SMEE Wire Eroder by Mike Kapp and the Digital Group

Most SMEE members will be familiar with spark erosion, the method of ‘burning’ a hole in a workpiece following the shape of an electrode and using sparks as the cutting tool. Industry has adapted the method to develop the wire eroder, a metal cutting machine using a fine, moving wire as the cutting tool and able to cut very complex shapes in the hardest materials. Although wire and spark eroders use the same basic cutting principles the wire eroder is a vastly more complex machine needing very sophisticated numerical control.

Several years ago Alan Wragg persuaded Norman Billingham to organise a visit for him and Mike Kapp to Sussex University to see their wire eroder. Although they did not see it in operation they were impressed enough to take on the challenge of design and construction of a benchtop version. Other SMEE members soon became interested and a decision was made to design and build a ‘proof of concept’ machine utilising the wide range of skills and experience of members of the Digital Group. Critical to the success was the group’s willingness to keep going, to share ideas and to find ways around the many problems that were encountered. After three years of collaborative work, a successful design has been demonstrated at shows where it was very well received and led to new members being recruited.

This talk, led by Mike Kapp will outline the strategy which the group adopted and the challenges which had to be tackled along the way.


10th November 2018

09:00   Day 5 Polly course


17th November 2018

10:30   Digital Group online


24th November 2018

14:00 Model running, including Gauge 1


1st December 2018

11:00 Council Meeting


8th December 2018

10:30   Digital Group online


15th December 2018

14:30  Christmas party and competition

           Polly competition in am if sufficient entries



  • 11:00 amCouncil Meeting
  • 2:30 pmSociety General Meeting
Current Date
  • 9:30 amDay 4 Polly course
  • 2:00 pmModel Running – Including Gauge 1