A Brief History of RCEA (Sussex)


The Association was formed on 21st November 1951 by the founder H. Cooch AMIEE and a small group of six Electrical Engineers. It was the first Association of its kind to become known to the Chartered Engineering Institutions. Draft rules, as prepared by Herbert Cooch, were tabled and it was agreed that all retired corporate members of the IEE, residing in the Worthing district, should be invited to attend a general meeting.

On December 14th 1951 sixteen members of the IEE met and formed the Association. The main object of the Association was to help engineers to associate with other retired men with similar interests. At this meeting it was agreed that retired members of Civil and Mechanical engineers, and engineers with similar qualifications, should be invited to join the Association.

The first President was W C S Phillips. Herbert Cooch was elected as the first Hon. Secretary.

Name of the Association

The original name of RCEA was Association of Retired Engineers (An Association for Chartered Engineers). The area covered by the original members included Worthing, Rustington, Pulborough, Steyning, Shoreham and Brighton. The name was changed to Retired Chartered Engineers’ Association in the 1978/9 Association year.

In 2003 the name of the Association was changed to RCEA (An Association for retired professional engineers). This opened up the potential membership to Incorporated as well as Chartered Engineers. Members now come from many areas of both East and West Sussex.

The RCEA logo was introduced in the 1978/79 Association year.

Format of the Association

The original format of the Association was: Meetings with talks, Visits to Works, an Annual Supper, summer outings and informal meetings. This format has remained very similar over the years but now partners are invited to functions whereas only the Annual Supper was open to “members and their ladies”.

The first talk from an outside speaker was given by A. G. Spicer and the subject was Television. The first talk given by a member was from Prof. A H Jameson on the subject of Shoreham and its harbour, old and new. The first visit to works was to the Goring Automatic Telephone exchange where 22 members attended.

In December 1971, to honour the death of the founder, the first annual Herbert Cooch Memorial Lecture was given on the subject of Parking Control and Pedestrian Precincts in Worthing.


The Association had 60 members in its first year. This rose to over 100 in 1964. The membership peaked at 115 in 1969 and has remained around 100 ever since.