The Society of Telegraph Engineers
The Society of Telegraph Engineers (STE) formally came into existence on 17 May 1871 at a meeting held in 2 Westminster Chambers, Victoria Street, London. The prime mover in this endeavour was Major Frank Bolton. He had been made an unattached major as a reward for his services to army signalling in 1868.
At the first meeting Bolton and seven others attended. They appointed a President (Charles William Siemens 1823-1883), two vice-Presidents (Lord Lindsay 1847-1913 and Frank Ives Scudamore 1823-1884), a Council of eleven members, a Treasurer and Librarian, an Honorary Secretary (Frank Bolton) and two Auditors.
The earliest statement of the Society's 'Objects' pronounces that its purpose was for the general advancement of Electrical and Telegraphic Science and for facilitating the exchange of information and ideas among its members.
Qualifications for admission reflected the Society's dual nature as a professional association and a learned society. The professional engineer's route to membership required him to have been educated as a Telegraph Engineer and to have been employed in positions of responsibility for at least five years. An Associate had to be over the age of twenty-one. There were no qualifying examinations until 1913; emphasis was placed instead on experience and positions of responsibility.
In the early days the focus of the Society was on telegraphy alone. However, it was decided that it would need to broaden its scope to include electrical science as this was a concern of every Telegraph Engineer and was not already represented in a separate learned society. The STE grew from strength to strength mainly because engineers required a Society of their own to reflect and represent their needs in a world where new uses for electricity were being rapidly developed.