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Archiver > INDIA > 2003-07 > 1059041730

From: "Anthony & Shirley West" <>
Subject: [India-L] The Royal Indian Engineering College.
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 11:16:44 +0100

Since I did some notes on the PWD recently, some of you have asked for more information on the College at Coopers Hill - forgive me if I do not reply to each of you personally!

Coopers Hill is located on the border of Surrey and Berkshire, a few miles from Windsor. It is now the Runnymede campus of Brunel University - but they hold no records from its time as The Royal Indian Engineering College, they are all at the OIOC. To describe the college I can do no better than to quote from 'A General Guide to the India Office Records' by Martin Moir.

"The Royal Indian Engineering College at Coopers Hill was opened in 1872 to provide a through training for civil engineers required for the multifarious operations of the Indian Public Works Department. The students then received instruction in various general subjects as well as purely engineering disciplines [mathematics;architectural design;surveying;mechanical drawing;geometry etc]. The College was administered by its own Board, plus a group of Visitors nominated by the Secretary of State for India. Later in the nineteenth century, Coopers Hill extended its intake and curriculum to accommodate forestry students as well as engineers, as well as engineers who did not intend to work in India. The college was eventually closed in 1906, the recruitment of engineers for India being thereafter managed through competitive examination for qualified personnel".

There is also reference to Coopers Hill in Anthony Farrington's book 'The Records of the East India College, Haileybury, and other Institutions' - [published London 1976].[pp 135/138]

So far as I can tell young men were recruited to Coopers Hill after they had completed their full time education, so they attended when they were in their late teens, early twenties. It is evident that there was some form of selection process before being accepted, and they seem to have stayed at the College for three years. It also appears that qualified engineers were being recruited directly at the same time, so it does not follow that if your man was a PWD engineer appointed betwixt, say, 1870 and 1906 that he went to Coopers Hill.

The student records of the College are at the OIOC at the British Library at St Pancras in London and are filed under the L/PWD/8 series in 408 volumes and files. These are sub divided as follows:-

L/PWD/8/10 An alphabetical list of students
L/PWD/8/11 Original Birth Certificates of Students
L/PWD/8/12 Application Papers
L/PWD/8/13 Biographical Details of Students

The rest of the L/PWD/8 series relate to the management of the College, appointment of staff etc.etc.

There are indexes at Z/L/PWD/8 on the open shelves, the other records have to be ordered.

I have noted that some of the engineers went to Egypt once they had qualified, but most seem to have been appointed to the various State Railways in India. It is evident that there is a rich seam to plough here, and I hope to be able to get my tractor into the field in due course!! I hope that this has been of some help to listers, and I know that some of you who lack access to London will feel even more frustrated - for that I can but apologise!!

Regards to you all.

Anthony West

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