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North Yorkshire engineer is celebrated in exhibition at new landmark London building

John Metcalf from Knaresborough is one of the ground breaking engineers celebrated in the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) brand new exhibition in its newly reopened London headquarters, Savoy Place.

Despite being blind from the age of six, John Metcalf, or Blind Jack of Knaresborough as he became known, was a civil engineer and the first professional road builder to surface during the Industrial Revolution. During his career, Metcalf completed work on 180 miles of road across Lancashire Derbyshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. His work is represented by a London Townscape Model in the exhibition.

The display of ‘100 engineering ideas that changed the world’ honours the creations of engineers from around the world. It celebrates the work of engineers who have dramatically improved the quality of our lives over the years, solving problems and improving safety with innovations such as X-rays, refrigeration and aviation, to name just a few.

All of the items featured in the showcase were voted for by IET members as having the most impact on human kind and as reflecting the development of engineering over the 144 year history of the IET.

Other items presented in the display, which is located in the first floor lobby, outside of the building’s Maxwell Library, include an internal combustion engine, as designed by Karl Benz and an FM radio set, pioneered by Edwin Howard Armstrong.

The showcase comes among several other new features such as the digital chandelier, live video walls and full-height sculpture displays as part of the re-opening of Savoy Place following a £30 million refurbishment of the building.


Simon Timmis, Senior Marketing Manager for IET Venues and Events commented:

The development of these exhibits is hugely exciting for all involved. It represents and celebrates the best in engineering accomplishments and reminds us of the huge positive impact that technological invention can have. We are very much looking forward to showcasing it as it provides a fantastic backdrop for conferences and events, and is really what sets us apart from other venues in London.


For more information on the new exhibition, visit:


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