The Bedford Civil Engineering Society was formed immediately after the Second World War (1946) and was the “brain-child” of Robert Aitken, the then, ‘Head of Trunk Roads’ section of Bedfordshire County Surveyors Society.
The Society was formed to give a forum where Engineers in related disciplines, both academically qualified and unqualified, could meet to broaden their professional horizons.
At that time, proportionally there were fewer formally qualified engineers practicing than today. The majority received their training by serving articles and qualifying academically through evening study. Understandably, many failed to complete their academic course. It should be borne in mind that very few had the benefit of University education in pre War days and during the War many young men and women were not given the opportunity to complete their education.
For much of its existence, the membership of the Society has been predominantly from the County Surveyors and Borough Engineers Departments and from the then Department of Transport. It is pleasing therefore to see that the presidency has also been held by Engineers from a much wider field. This is evidence of Robert Aitkins desire to have a broad spectrum of interests fulfilled.
Earliest records show that for the winter sessions of 1948 – 49 and 1949 – 50 the Society met at the Electricity Social Club Hall in Cauldwell Street. Since then, various venues in and around Bedford have been used including the Main Hall of the Harpur Voluntary Secondary School, Shire Hall, County Hall, Bedford Central Library, Melbourne House and the Keep at Kempston. Since 2003 the Society has held all its meetings at Aircraft Research Association in Manton Lane Bedford with the winters programme meetings occurring generally on the first Wednesday of the month commencing in October.