The South East Region encompasses a wide geographic area ranging from Kent across to Hampshire and the Isle of Wight up to Buckinghamshire. Established in May 2015, following CIHT’s Branch Review and the merging of the former South Eastern, Southern and the Thames and Chilterns Branches, the Region has a membership in excess of 2,000.
The South Eastern Branch was the 10th to be formed of the 18 Branches and was born on 20 April 1958 at an inaugural meeting held in the Council Chamber of Tunbridge Wells Town Hall. The National President of the day, Major Aldington, opened the proceedings and invited those present to elect a
Chair. Mr C Leney (County Surveyor of East Sussex) was elected unanimously “amid acclamation”, with Mr H Bowdler (County Surveyor of Kent) as Vice Chair and Mr J Palmer (Assistant County Surveyor of East Sussex) as Hon. Secretary. A Committee was also elected and at once arranged the Branch’s first technical meeting – a visit to the new works of the Ready Mixed Concrete Company at Shoreham by Sea on 28 June 1958.
Henry Bowdler continued as Vice Chair for five years, before becoming Branch Chair in 1963 and proceeding to the Presidency of the Institution in 1966. Henry was followed into the Presidency by Ian Dussek in 1992, Allan Mowatt in 2000 and most recently David Gillham in 2011.
The first annual expenditure in 1959 is shown as £14 4s 4d (£14.22) compared with over £3,400 for 2001. Since 1959 the Branch has arranged over 250 meetings involving technical papers and site visits. Over the years the minutes of Branch meetings show how the roles of the Institution and the Branch have changed. In the early days, business was confined to ‘domestic issues’, such as arrangements for meetings. Recently, consideration of local contribution to Britannia Walk on national issues forms an important part of the Branch’s work.
The minutes also bring to life well remembered names (and some half forgotten) who gave great service. These include Ken Cox (Hon. Sec. 1964-1977), Stan Bedford (Hon. Treasurer 1981-1992), Mike Sumpter (most posts from 1980 to 2010) and Trevor Blann (Hon Treasurer from 1992). They have all received the Institution’s Certificate of Merit.
The inaugural meeting of the Southern Branch took place on Thursday 16 October 1958 in the Council Chamber of Hampshire County Council, The Castle, Winchester. Major H. E. Aldington, President of the Institution of Highway Engineers, addressed those present after which the first meeting of the Committee took place with Mr Norman Jenner, County Surveyor of Hampshire in the chair. Greetings were received from the neighbouring South Western and Thames and Chilterns Branches.
The first Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Branch was held at the same venue on 12 March 1959 at which Mr Jenner was elected Chair and Mr Maurice Milne joined the Committee. Both gentlemen were destined to become Institution Presidents. The Branch is proud of the fact that to date eight Branch or Committee members have served as President of the Institution.
In the early days AGMs and committee meetings were variously held at Winchester, Chichester, Guildford, Southampton and Bournemouth, the latter transferring to Dorset and therefore to the South Western Branch following Local Government Reorganisation in 1974.
In 1967 The Welcome Inn, Petersfield, well remembered with nostalgia by many of our older members, became for many years the exclusive home for all winter technical meetings and for some social gatherings, the last being the 27th Annual General Meeting in March 1985, shortly before the establishment finally closed down.
After a short spell at the Sports Centre, Petersfield, meetings were moved in 1986 to the Grange Centre, Midhurst, which remains the principal meeting place for the Branch. We are (circa 2003) making regular use of Portsmouth, and Winchester particularly when having shared meetings with ICE Southern Association.
By tradition two social functions have been held each year – an informal gathering such as an evening social, canal trip or non-technical visit, and a formal dinner/dance, the first of which was a dinner at Hindhead at a charge of £1 per head!
The Chair's Badge of Office depicting the Appian Way, the Institution of Highway Engineer's former logo, was presented to the Branch by Mr Maurice Milne, branch member and President of the Institution in 1975.
The 50th Anniversary of the foundation of the Institution was celebrated by the Southern Branch at the Welcome Inn in January 1980 by Prof. T. E. H Williams and founder members of the Branch, and in January 1984 the 25th Anniversary of the Branch was celebrated at the same venue attended by President Mike Hardy and past Presidents Norman Jenner, Maurice Milne and Tom Williams. Presidential Conferences were held at Southampton University in 1980 and 1998 and the Branch hosted the Locan Cup National Golf Competition in 1982 and 2001. Branch Golf Competitions held annually have been the Midpave Trophy and the Jacomb Jug, and matches have traditionally been held against the Municipal Engineers, Tarmac Limited and the South Eastern Branch.
A CIHT branch encompassing the counties of Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire was founded in 1957. It was initially called the South Midlands Branch, but due to the confusion this caused was renamed the Thames and Chilterns Branch in 2003.
The South Midlands’ first general meeting was held on the 19th July 1957 and took the form of an afternoon site visit to see progress with the construction of the Oxford Eastern Bypass; a project of which the first branch chairman Kenneth Summerfield, County Surveyor of Oxfordshire, was heavily involved with.
Over the years the Branch has celebrated a number of notable events such as branch anniversaries and the making of great engineering achievements. Our annual Sonning Conference was regarded as a national event in its heyday, attracting speakers and delegates from across the UK to commemorate such events, more details of which can be found at: Notable Events.
In 2007 the Thames and Chilterns Branch celebrated its Golden Anniversary. Since its inauguration, the Branch has grown to over 720 members, making it one of the largest CIHT branches.