2016 Report and Journal


Introduction 2016

This edition celebrates 150 years since the establishing of the Leeds Association of Engineers. There is a large difference in the Association now in 2016, from that first established in 1865. The Engineering Industry is a shadow of that of 150 years ago which is reflected in the reduction in the number of members and those who are potentially new members. Similarly the Captains of Industry no longer remain as members, as in the past, when we had famous names amongst Officers of the Association.  Another difference is the average age of members which remains quite high, the majority of people being retired, as younger members are not attracted. A big factor here is the lack of groups of apprentices and young Engineers who used to join together, and did not feel to be outsiders because of the age difference. Many other organisations are in a similar position of reducing membership numbers, not only within the Engineering sector, and many have not been able to survive.

However, the Association remains very active, organising lectures and visits where possible. The arrangement of visits these days is not as easy as in the past as there are not so many places to visit. Most only open during the day, or are reluctant to have us because of Insurance and “Health and Safety” reasons. Lectures continue to be held regularly and both visits and lectures are attended by a consistent number of members. We still manage to attract good attendance figures compared to many other similar organisations which clearly means our programme is better. Meeting venues have had to change from Leeds University as the University administration placed unacceptable charges on us. Meetings are now held at the RAE Scandinavia Trust in Cleckheaton which is near to the M62/M606 Motorway Junction 26/1 and there is a hostelry nearby which is a social meeting place after lectures. We consider the social side of meetings to be an important activity. The University Lecture rooms are hired for larger joint meetings. Council Meetings are still held at The Corner House Club, Moortown.

A dedicated few continue to arrange the various events including Ladies Evenings, Annual Dinners, Golf Days and a Solstice Evening Walk with refreshments at a nearby hostelry. These are all enjoyed by those who attend. The Golf day continues to be well attended, numbers remaining high under the care of both Kevin Hegarty, who resigned because of temporary ill health, and the new Secretary Steve Stacey.

The finances of the Association remain healthy, although reducing in value. Subscriptions have not been increased for many years, as Council feel that an increase would discourage continuing membership. Her Majesty’s Government have recently decided that the bonds we held for many years, which payed dividends of 2½% and 3½ %, should be redeemed at face value. This represents a loss of the equivalent of 6 members’ subscriptions per year in interest.

The use of E-mails to the majority of members, has reduced the cost and time spent producing circulars, except for that announcing the Annual General Meeting and Subscriptions which are posted.

The Internet site, initially started by the late Steve Hall, has matured into a very user friendly site under the leadership of Gordon Toulson. The information displayed is kept up to date, and includes in addition to Association events, other articles of general interest to engineers. The capacity of the site enables the use of a large number of photographs as well as comprehensive reports on various activities. The site is visited by many people, and members are encouraged to also regularly spend some time enjoying the various articles shown. Members can contribute articles of interest to the site by contacting the Web Master.

The annual Church Service has been supported by a small number of members, even though the Association contributes to lunch following the service. The Church has undergone a few changes in status from Parish Church to Minster with a possibility of becoming a Cathedral. Our Chaplin, Cannon Tony Bundock, retired in 2014 and attended a dinner with Council where he  was presented with a tankard in recognition of his time spent with us. In view of the uncertainty of a replacement for Tony in the Church the position of regular Chaplin has not yet been filled by April 2016.

The Church was approached some time ago to discuss the possibility of mounting a plaque within the Church in recognition of 150 years of cooperation with the Association. This was not a simple process, but eventually the Church Commissioners agreed a suitable design and location for a plaque. The plaque is now mounted in the Lady Chapel to the immediate left of the main entrance to the church, and is located about halfway along the left wall of the Chapel.

The annual dinner is still held, but the date is fluctuating slightly to fit within other commitments and to avoid clashes with other Dinners. The Lord Mayor of Leeds, and our Chaplin, are our guests along with representatives from other Associations. The 150th Dinner  held in April 2016 will probably be our last fully formal dinner, a more social evening being envisaged for the future.