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.


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 College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences 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.

Lecture programme 2018/2019

Lectures are held in the Chapel Lecture Theatre, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9FE unless otherwise stated.


President's Lecture: 'European Mining Regions - Competitors & Collaborators'

Thursday 11th October 2018 6pm

Professor Frances Wall, President

Two projects, REMIX and MIREU, are bringing together European mining regions to learn from each other and to promote expansion of mining-related businesses. This talk will compare Cornwall with other mining regions in Europe; strengths, weaknesses and lessons to be learned.

'The United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project'

Thursday 25th October 2018 6pm

Peter Ledingham, MD GeoScience Ltd

Geothermal Engineering Ltd has secured funding from the ERDF and Cornwall Council to explore the geothermal resources beneath Cornwall. This is a first for the UK and a great opportunity for Cornwall once again to lead the way in the promotion of renewable energy.

The 17th Annual Victor Phillips Memorial Lecture: 'Sirius Minerals North Yorkshire Polyhalite Project'

Thursday 8th November 2018 7pm (Daphne du Maurier Lecture Theatre A)

Graham Clarke, Operations Director Sirius Minerals plc

Sirius Minerals is developing the largest, highest grade resource of polyhalite to be found anywhere in the world. The Woodsmith underground mine is situated in the North York Moors National Park and will be connected to a handling facility on Teeside via a 37km underground mineral transport system.

'Miners on Tour'

Tuesday 20th November 2018 6pm

Luc Phillips, John Sanderson, Henry Wedlake, Scott Gregor, Sam Skinner (CSM students)

A talk on Open Pit Gold Mining in South America, Shaft Sinking in South Africa, Underground Gold Mining in Australia and Explosives Engineering in the UK

'Mining Quiz'

Thursday 13th December 2018 6pm (Upper Stannary)

Hosted by Nick Eastwood

Teams of four - contact the Secretary to take part.

The Annual Don Dixon Memorial Lecture: 'Electric Propulsion for Boats'

Thursday 10th January 2019 6pm (in association with IET and IMarEST)

Rachel Nicholls-Lee, Director Whiskerstay

The electric vessel market is in its infancy, with increasing fuel costs, legislation, regulation of emissions and consumer desire to be environmentally-friendly driving the market forward. Key challenges to the industry include the cost of replacing current vessels with electric/hybrid variants, the expense of battery technology and risk perception in the marine industry.

'Fishy Filaments’

Thursday 7th February 2019 6pm
Please note this is a change to the published programme

Ian Falconer, Founder & CEO

A new kind of recycling company, whose innovative approach to marine plastics is drawing worldwide attention. The first installation is operating in support of the commercial fishing fleet in Newlyn, Cornwall, producing high-value nylon filament for use in 3D printing.

'Cornwall Update: Cornish Lithium, South Crofty & Redmoor'

Thursday 21st February 2019 6pm

Owen Mihalop (Strongbow), Lucy Crane (Cornish Lithium), Brett Grist (Cornwall Resources)

The speakers will update on the progress of these projects.  To be followed by the Cornwall Mining Sundowner in the Upper Stannary Bar with opportunity for a wider discussion.

'Artisanal & Small Scale Mining'

Thursday 21st March 2019 6pm (in association with 'Women in Mining')

A panel discussion bringing together different perspectives on the subject.

2019 AGM followed by 'Sustainable technology-driven, whole-system approaches to small-scale mining in the 21st Century'

Thursday 11th April 2019 AGM 5.30pm followed by lecture at 6pm

Dr Kathryn Moore, Camborne School of Mines

The IMP@CT project is a small-scale, compartmentalised, whole systems mining approach for extraction and processing of critical metals that can respond rapidly to market fluctuations and opportunities. It is funded by an EU Horizon 2020 R&I programme.


Visits 2018 / 2019

Please contact the Secretary to book:

United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project

Saturday 27th October 2018 2pm

Peter Ledingham, MD GeoScience Ltd

This will follow the lecture on Thursday 25th October. From its project site on the United Downs Industrial Estate, GEL is drilling two deep wells, one to a depth of 2,500m and the other to 4,500m,due to start at the end of September. The visit will include a presentation on the history of the project and current status, as well as a view of the drilling operation from the rooftop viewing platform.

Rosevale Mine

Saturday 26th January 2019 10.30am

Tony Bennett

Rosevale Mine is a privately funded restoration project that has been carried out since the mid-1970s by a small group of mining enthusiasts, restoring the underground workings of this former tin mine. The tour of the workings will be conducted and supervised by experienced guides. The aim is to provide a personalised and informal tour that will allow people to see the techniques and equipment used for hard rock mining and to appreciate the working environment of a traditional Cornish mine.

Pendennis Shipyard

Thursday 14th March 2019 6pm

PSY and the CIE are hosting a visit to PSY's facilities in Falmouth as part of an initiative to introduce young engineers to potential career opportunities within the marine sector. The event will be focused on college students making decisions on which subjects to select for A level. Numbers will be limited and RSVP will be essential for health & safety reasons.

Goonhilly Earth Station

 Thursday 4th April 2019  Time tbc (contact Secretary)

The Goonhilly Earth Station is undergoing a renaissance under new ownership and is benefiting from significant investment, both from commercial and government-funded sources. Commercial satellite communications, both for media and industrial applications, are proliferating, providing a ready client list. Its iconic main antennae are being re-tasked as scientific instruments and new high-speed internet connections mean that one of Cornwall's best known technology sites is now fit for the 21st Century. 


Penryn Campus:

Chapel Lecture Theatre - from car parks, proceed past the lower end of the long building to the building with an arced roof.

Daphne du Maurier Building, Lecture Theatre A – approach the main long building ( known as 'Daphne du Maurier'), pass under the 'bridge' and take the sloped path opposite the campus Post Room. Lecture Theatre A is through the door.


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.



Professor Frances Wall


Mrs. Claire Yelland