New exhibition will mark 200 years of civil engineering excellence

A new exhibition celebrating the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is set to open in the Sherwell Centre on the University of Plymouth campus on Monday 8 January.

Plymouth Breakwater 2007, Looking West by Plymouth Museums Galleries Archives

The ‘Lighthouses, Bridges and Breakwaters’ exhibition is part of the ‘Museum On Tour’ programme, which is taking a range of activities and events to venues around the city while the Museum and Art Gallery’s building is closed for the development of The Box.

The exhibition will feature a series of information panels highlighting the history of some of Plymouth’s most iconic structures as well as the exciting research that is currently taking place.

Councillor Jordan, Cabinet Member for Culture said: “Civil engineers have been shaping our towns and cities for centuries – protecting the old and creating the new; making the impossible possible. In Plymouth they’ve created a safe harbour, the Dockyard, our cargo wharves, quays and basins as well as vital transport connections and river crossings. This is an important anniversary to commemorate and an exciting time to find out about all the things that will help shape our city and world in the future.”

Museum staff have worked in partnership with ICE South West, the University’s School of Engineering and the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee to produce the panels.

A packed event programme will also run throughout the spring while the exhibition is on display, including family-friendly craft workshops, storytelling and interactive STEM sessions, a series of guided walks, lunchtime talks and Bite Size presentations.

ICE South West is also developing a number of additional commemorative events which will take place throughout 2018.

Tamar Bridge and Royal Albert Bridge by Plymouth Museums Galleries Archives

Professor Deborah Greaves, Head of the School of Engineering at the University of Plymouth, said: “We are pleased to be hosting this exhibition as part of ICE200 and helping celebrate civil engineering achievements that have made a real difference to the city and society over the past two centuries. An important aspect of the exhibition is its focus on our research and how both that and modern practices are impacting on the lighthouses, breakwaters and bridges of the future. It is also an opportunity to inspire current and prospective students, and our many thousands of graduates, and to demonstrate what an education in engineering can enable them to achieve.”

Miranda Housden, Director ICE South West, said: “ICE 200 is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the South West’s amazing civil engineering past, present and future. Plymouth has a vast civil engineering history with internationally recognised symbols such as Smeaton’s Tower and the Royal Albert Bridge. This exhibition will look at that history, but it will also show some of the innovative research that is taking place at Plymouth University. Thank you to all those involved in making this happen.”

‘Lighthouses, Bridges and Breakwaters’ can be viewed at the Sherwell Centre, Sherwell Lane from Monday 8 January to Saturday 17 March. Opening hours are 9am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday and admission is free.

For more information and details of all the events that are running in connection with the exhibition visit the what’s on section of

To find out more about ICE South West visit

To learn more about the University of Plymouth’s School of Engineering visit

Aerial photograph of Fastnet Lighthouse by James Bassitt