History of the Department
 1907 Royal Charter for Imperial College granted.  
 1908 The ‘Chemical Technology’ department is proposed.  
 1912 The Department formally opens, housed in the Chemistry department of the Royal College of Science, and headed by Professor William Bone (right).

William Bone

 1914 The new building in Prince Consort Road is completed.  

Professor George Finch (right) – expert in oxygen use for high altitude mountaineering - given leave to join the first expedition to attempt to conquer Everest.

The Institution of Chemical Engineers is founded, with two members of the Department (Professors Hinchley and Newitt) as founder members. Newitt geos on to become president in 1949.

George Finch
 1924 Miss Lewkowitsch becomes the first female student in the Department, and finishes top of her year.  
 1926 Departmental title is changed to “Chemical Technology, including Fuel Technology, Chemical Engineering, Electrothermics”.  
 1931 The first postgraduate course in Chemical Engineering begins, given to undergraduates from Chemistry.  
 1933 The Department celebrates its twenty first year, and is noted by then Rector as having “a tradition of brilliant and accurate experimental work”.  
 1935 The Chemical Engineering Society formed, presided over by H. A. Humphrey.  
 1936 William Bone retires after 23 years as Head of Department, replaced by Professor Alfred Egerton (right). Bone is conferred as an Emeritus Professor and awarded the Davy Medal of the Royal Society. Alfred Egerton
 1937 First undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering starts. Four students enrol - we now welcome over 120 students a year!  

The Second World War begins. Research laboratories and workshops are geared to prototype and development work for the war effort. Throughout the war, the numbers of graduates rises slowly, up to fourteen in 1945.

The Department transfers from the Royal College of Science to the City and Guilds College.


The Institution of Chemical Engineers establishes the Hinchley Medal, awarded to the best final year student. The first recipient is S. Grimley.

Alfred Egerton is knighted for services to science.


Following the war, things begin to return to normality. The Chemical Engineering Society holds its first dinner (still going strong today), and commence publication of an annual journal.

Professor Dudley Newitt becomes the first holder of the Courtaulds Chair.

 1952 Professor Dudley Newitt (right) becomes Head of Department. Dudley Newitt
 1957 The Roderic Hill Building is opened by H.M. The Queen Mother. Facilities such as a lecture theatre and purpose built library allow the Department to expand its intake of students.  
 1961 Newitt retires as Head of Department and Professor Alfred Ubbelohde takes his place. Alfred Ubbelohde
 1964 Computing courses are introduced.  
 1966 The ACE extension opens, with two lecture theatres, a pilot plant laboratory and concourse area.  

Professor Roger Sargent (right) replaces Ubbelohde as Head of Department.

Professor Anita Bailey (right) becomes the first female professor and first holder of the Kodak chair of Interface Science.

Roger Sargent

The annual Newitt Lecture is established.

A short-lived course, Chemical Engineering and Management Science, begins.

 1980 The first four year undergraduate degree is established.  
 1988 Professor Bill Wakeham (right) is appointed as the sixth Head of Department. Bill Wakeham
 1989 Professor Roger Sargent founds the The Sargent Centre for Process Systems Engineering.  
 1991 The Centre for Process Systems Engineering is formally opened by Princess Anne. An MSc in Process Systems Engineering is introduced.  
 1996 Professor John Perkins (right) takes over as Head of Department, Bill Wakeham goes on to become Deputy Rector of the College. John Perkins
 2000 Professor Julia Higgins (right) becomes acting Head of Department. Julia Higgins
 2001 Professor Stephen Richardson (right) becomes Head of Department, John Perkins goes on to become the first Principal of the Faculty of Engineering. Stephen Richardson
 2003 The first MSc in Advanced Chemical Engineering is introduced.  
 2008 Professor Andrew Livingston (right) replaces Stephen Richardson, now Associate Provost of the College, as Head of Department. Andrew Livingston
 2012 The Carbon Capture Pilot Plant, the only one of its kind in an educational facility, opens.  
 2016 Professor Nilay Shah becomes Head of Department. Nilay Shah
History of Chemical Engineering