Heritage Collection

The Institute owns a number of items of historical interest. Special collections include: 

  • The Sir Henry Bessemer (1813-1898) Collection: copy of his Autobiography, photographs and artefacts
  • Collections of Scientific Papers written by distinguished materials scientists: Dr John Percy (1817-1889); Dr Donald McLean (1915-2018), Dr W.Eric Duckworth (1925-2012), Prof Peter Jost (1921-2016) and others.
  • Collection of antiquarian books
  • Dunlop/BTR rubber research reports
  • The IMM historical collection
  • Miners Safety Lamps - a unique collection of about 150 miners lamps currently on display at the IOM3 new building in London.

There are also subject indexes to mining industry literature from 1894 onwards and a collection of modern publications on mining history.

IOM3 titles such as Journal of the Iron and Steel Institute (JISI) 1869-1973 and Journal of the Institute of Metals (JIM) 1908-1973, Transactions of the Institution of Rubber Industries (IRI), Transactions of the Plastics Institute (PI), Plastics and Rubber International (PRI) and others titles contain technical information and information of historical interest, such as formation of former organisations that constitute IOM3 today, biographies, obituaries, appreciation, photographs of Past Presidents, etc. These titles are held in the IOM3's National Materials and Mining Archive in Grantham.

For further information on the collections and to make an appointment please contact us via the online enquiry form

10th March 2018 marks William Menelaus (1818-1882) Bicentenary of his Birth.

William Menelaus was a founder member of the Iron and Steel Institute, its President in 1873-1877 and Bessemer Gold Medallist awarded in 1881.

An article will be published in the April 2018 issue of Materials World telling his life and contribution to the steel industry.

2015 is the Bicentenary of the Invention of the Miners' Safety Lamp in 1815


2 October 2014 – Evening Lecture Sir Humphry Davy: Natural philosopher, discoverer, inventor, poet, man of action by Sir John Meuring Thomas Lecture at the Royal Society of Chemistry. Lecture available here

February 2015 - Article The man from Penzance – Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829) by Ledetta Asfa-Wossen Materials World v. 23 no. 2 February 2015 p. 42-45

5 March 2015 - Public Meeting The Adoption of the miners safety lamp - John Buddle's role in the transfer of lamp technology organised by the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers (NEIMME)

8 June 2015 – Lecture  Safety at Sea and Lighthouses by Professor Frank James lecture organised by Gresham College and held at the Museum of London – Lecture and video here

22 July 2015 - Article Humphry Davy and the “safety lamp controversy” by Andrew Lacey in The Guardian

12 October 2015 – 24 January 2016 - Special exhibition: A Light in the Darkness – 200 Years of the Flame, Safety Lamp at the National Coal Mining Museum

25 October 2015 - A Light in the Darkness Event: The Lamp Collectors Society’s Little Meet - 10am – 4pm, free drop in,  Ask the Expert session and Book Launch of a new book by the Society at the National Coal Mining Museum

Book launch - Clanny, Stephenson & Davy - Commemorating the Bicentenary of the Miners Safety Lamps, published by The Lamp Collectors Society, 372 pages with full colour illustrations of over 425 early lamps. Cost £89.99. You may purchase this title from David Rimmer T: 07795 380609.

27 November 2015 - The Royal Institution Science Lives Here - Friday Evening Discourse: The Tsar's Cup by Frank James, Professor of the History of Science and Head of Collections at 7pm at the Royal Institution

5 Decembter 2015 - Family Open Davy Celebrating - George Stephenson at The Lit and Phil, Newcastle upon Tyne.

At 6 pm - Science and Mining in the North East: George Stephenson, Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday, with Frank A.L. James, Professor of of the History of Science.

This talk will compare the ‘engineering’ solution pursued by George Stephenson and the ‘scientific’ one followed by Humphry Davy, assisted by Michael Faraday. The simultaneity of these discoveries provoked a ferocious controversy between the main protagonists. The arguments were informed not only by the merits and precise chronologies of development, but also by business, class, political and regional rivalries.

2 February 2016 - Lunch Hour Lectures - The State, Science and Humphry Davy, Lecture by Frank A.L.James, Professor of the History of Science. Event held at Darwin Lecture Theatre from 1:15-1:55 pm at University Collegue London

You may wish to watch the video here

18 February 2016 - Evening Lecture - The History of the Davy Lamp, by Brian Robinson. Jointly organised by MinSouth and the British Tunnelling Society, held that Institution of Civil Engineers, 18:00. Contact Paul Griffin.

10 January 2017 - Evening Lecture - Letters, laughing gas and the lamp: Humphry Davy 1778 - 1829, talk by Sharon Ruston, who will discuss a hitherto unpublished collection of letters written to the Rev John Hodgson who has an important role in the invention of the safety lamp. They shed new light on the ensuing controversy over who first created a safe lamp. Event will be held at the Royal Institution, Tuesday 10th January 2017 7.00 - 8.30 pm. Further information here.

November 2017 - Free Online Course

Humphry Davy: Laughing Gas, Literature, and the Lamp: Discover Humphry Davy and his contribution to science and the arts.


Lancaster University awarded a Research Council Leadership Fellowship to edit two volumes of 'The Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy'. See also Davy Letters website.

Royal Society of Chemistry presented a plaque to honour Humphry Davy in Penzance.

Institution of Mechanical Engineers Archive and Library blog on The Geordie Lamp

National Coal Mining Museum - Celebrating 200 Years of the Flame Safety Lamp with some films.

Articles available in the Library of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining:

James F. - A Tale of two lamps in Materials World November 2015 v. 23 no. 11 p. 52-54

Asfa-Wossen L. - The man from Penzance - Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829) in Materials World February 2015 no. 2 p. 42-45

Hadwick F.W., O'Shea L.T. - Notes on the history of the safety-lamp in Transactions of the Institute of Mining Engineers 1915-1916 v. LI p. 548-728

Briggs H - A method for the rapid estimation of oxygen and blackdamp in the air of safety-lamp mines in Transactions of the Institute of Mining Engineers 1915-1916 v. LI p. 169-188

Hirsch H.H., - The Hirsch portable electric lamp in Transactions of the Institute of Mining Engineers 1915-1916 v LI p. 61-71


RI Royal Institution Video - Fighting Firedamp - the Lamp that saved 1,000 lives on YouTube

BBC One - The One Show - Marty Jopson - Davy Lamp


Sir Henry Bessemer (1813-1898)


2013 Bessemer bicentenary exhibition and other items of interest

2013 centenary of stainless steel events