The Bristol Society of Model and Experimental Engineers (BSMEE) exists to promote the development of the wider Model Engineering hobby by providing support and encouragement to interested people to construct and operate models of an engineering nature.
The Bristol Society was founded in 1909 and is one of the oldest in the country. It currently has some 250 members who between them cover many trades, professions and backgrounds. Many of the successful modellers have not had any formal engineering training, but have been encouraged and supported by fellow members to develop their interest. Many of the skills required to undertake Model Engineering can be self taught but, by belonging to a society or club there is always help and knowledge freely available.
The range of modelling by members is very diverse, from locomotives, traction engines, stationary engines, cars, clocks and ships to some of the machine tools which are required to make the models, are constructed by members. Not all members are active model makers, some members get considerable enjoyment simply from being a member and helping other members enjoy the fruits of their model making activities.
In order to protect the liability of members the BSMEE is a Limited Company (Company No 2893778). In addition, in recognition of the fact that much of what is done leads to the advancement of public education, the BSMEE is also a Registered Charity (Charity No 1094274)
The BSMEE is very fortunate in having the use of 4.5 acres of the Aston Court Estate in Bristol. This land, which is leased from Bristol City Council, provides the site where we have developed an extensive miniature railway that provides facilities for the operation of 3½”, 5″ and 7¼” locomotives. In addition, the site also has facilities for the operation of the larger scale traction engines. Both the locomotives and traction engines provide a public passenger service throughout the summer season.
Regular meetings of the BSMEE are held on the first and third Wednesday of the month at the Begbrook and Stapleton Community Centre, Bristol at 7:15pm. Meetings, which are open to the general public, usually comprise a talk or demonstration on a suitable subject followed by an opportunity to meet fellow members.
New members are always welcome and no particular skill is necessary. Membership is open to individuals or family groups.
An excellent library is available to members and the BSMEE also has all copies of “Model Engineer” in bound form since its inauguration. There are many other volumes of “Engineering in Miniature”, “Live Steam”, “Locomotives Large and Small” etc. all of which are available to members on free loan. There is also a good selection of plans of all kinds and patterns for castings available for loan.
A Society journal and newsletter called “Bristol Model Engineer” is issued several times a year giving details of what is happening at Begbrook and the Ashton Court Miniature Railway along with technical articles on tools, model building etc.
The BSMEE is organised and managed by a General Committee comprising Directors/Trustees and other Officers who are elected annually by the members at the Annual General Meeting.