Savoy Place - "no finer site in London"
The building now occupied by the IET was originally built as a joint Examination Hall for the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons, completed in 1887 and designed to accommodate 600 candidates. The foundation stone, which can be seen at the front of the building, was laid by Queen Victoria on 24th March 1886. During 1887-9 the Examination Hall was extended to include classrooms, laboratories and a lecture theatre.
On 1 June 1909, the Institution purchased the remaining seventy-six years of the ninety-nine year lease, held by the Duchy of Lancaster.
The Institution had been founded 38 years before, in 1871, as the Society of Telegraph Engineers. As the application of electrical engineering spread beyond telegraphy to power, lighting and other areas, the name was changed to the Institution of Electrical Engineers. It was granted a Royal Charter in 1921. By the early 1900s, the Institution had over 5000 members and was collecting funds for the purchase of its own building. It was impressed by the Examination Hall, the President stating 'there is no finer site in London.' To find out more about the history of the IET and its predecessor institutions please see the history of the IET.
The 1909 alterations, carried out by H Percy Adams and Charles Holden, included renovation of the entrance hall, the lecture theatre and the creation of a library from the long room on the first floor. The entrance hall was lined with white marble and decorated with bronze friezes. The lecture theatre was panelled in Cuban mahogany, matching the interior doors on the ground floor, with carved cartouches designed by the sculptor W S Frith. The original work can still be seen today, although both rooms have been adapted for modern use. In the late 1950s, Adams Holden and Pearson altered the façade and added the top storey and entrance.