The Cambridge Branch was formed in January 1957, holding its inaugural meeting on 11 March that year in the University of Cambridge’s Engineering Laboratories, still the venue for many of our lectures. The Branch’s affiliations were strongly represented in the founder presidents and vice-presidents, who included Professor Austyn Mair (Francis Mond Professor of Aeronautical Engineering), Arthur Marshall (as he then was), Sir William Farren (Technical Director of Avro and President of the Society in 1953-54), and Norman de Bruyne who founded the adhesives company ARL. These affiliations continue through to those who hold these positions today. Our fourth Branch President is Air Marshal Philip Sturley, and our Vice-Presidents are Professor Dame Ann Dowling, Head of the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge, Sir Michael Marshall, Chairman and Chief Executive of Marshall Holdings, and Martin Broadhurst, recently retired Chief Executive of Marshall Aerospace and now a member of Council and the EAB. Marshall Aerospace has been closely associated with the Branch since its inception.
The Branch draws its membership, which today totals over 160, from a wide variety of backgrounds, including the aerospace and electronic industries and the Armed Forces. Their aerospace oriented interests are catered for with an imaginative annual nine-lecture programme aimed at members of all ages. The Branch has a strong track record of joint lectures with other learned bodies, including the IMechE, the IET, TWI, the Institute for Manufacturing and, most recently, the RIN.
Our lecture venues reflect our academic, aerospace and engineering traditions. Lectures are held in the University Engineering Department, at Marshall Aerospace at Cambridge Airport, while, more recently, our Christmas heritage lecture has been held at Hughes Hall, a college of the University. Our members are well travelled too, having completed 31 visits in the past 14 years, and we claim to be the only Society Branch to have visited Hamilton Place, where we celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2007. Our annual prestige event is the Sir Arthur Marshall Lecture, inaugurated in 2000. Sir Arthur was a staunch supporter of our Branch, continuing to attend lectures until nearly a centenarian. The early Sir Arthur Marshall Lectures were held in the University Engineering Department, while later ones used Churchill College and the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. The most recent lectures have been held in the splendid surroundings of the new Howard Theatre at Downing College.
Sir Arthur’s achievements were further recognised by the first award under the Society’s Heritage Awards scheme. A plaque was unveiled at Cambridge Airport by the Society’s then President, David Rowland, and Past-President, David Marshall, in the presence of local dignitaries including the MP for Cambridge and the Mayor of Cambridge, many members of Council and an impressive turnout of Branch members. This event was held in conjunction with a Council meeting at the IWM Duxford, which the Branch organised and included dinner in Emmanuel College.
Branch committee members have supported many of the Society’s initiatives, such as Cool Aeronautics, a day’s activities for nearly a hundred under-privileged children in the main hangar at IWM Duxford, and corporate awareness and membership seminars at the MoD’s logistics HQ at RAF Wyton. We also run the Society’s stand at the biennial Helitech helicopter exhibitions at Duxford.
Established January 1957
First President Professor Austyn Mair
Present size 160
Named Lecture Sir Alan Cobham Lecture
Lecture Venues University of Cambridge Engineering Laboratories, Marshall Aerospace Cambridge Airport, Downing College, Hughes Hall
This is an article orginally published in The Aerospace Professional