British Engineering
Manufacturers Association

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History of BEMA

On the 5th March the first letter was sent out by John E Evans of The Ray Engineering Co Ltd. He wrote to 40 manufacturing engineers inviting them to a meeting to form the Bristol Engineering Manufacturers Association. Of those 40 there were 12 who responded.

The first meeting was held on the 18th March 1936. The founder members were Llewellin’s Machine Co Ltd, Ray Engineering Co, ESS Signs, Brecknell Willis, Strachan and Henshaw, Whitehead and Honey, E Richards and Co, R A Webber, Transport Brakes and Bristol Piping.

At that time the fee to join was one guinea with an annual subscription of one guinea. £1.05 nowadays.

BEMA’s first home was in the box room at the house of John Evans in Filton Avenue.

The first handbook was produced.

During the Second World War all companies pulled together and BEMA became a sort of clearing house to bring work into Bristol.

BEMA at this point launched the Bulletin to complement the Directory.

At the end of 1944 BEMA started to look towards Apprenticeships and produced its own indentures. During this year BEMA also put on a small exhibition at the Victoria Rooms. It attracted 45 stands and over 50,000 visitors.

In July BEMA took the first steps in affiliation with the Engineering Industries Association.

In September the offices of BEMA were opened in Stokes Croft. They were above the Constitutional Club in St Stephens Street.

A Capacity Register was set up to assist with the sub contracting of work to different firms.

During this year the idea was floated for a group apprenticeship scheme for the member companies. This was never to take off but the later Youth Training Scheme did.

In 1956 the name of BEMA changed to include West of England in its title.

In April BEMA moved offices again to lease part of the Royal London House in Queen Charlotte Street where it stayed for 21 years.

During the Presidency of John Bagnall the Golf Society Club was started.

On 5th March a dinner was hosted by Council for the Past Presidents of the Association in celebration of 25 years.

A committee was set up in Dorset and Hants.

In July a committee was set up for Devon and Cornwall.

In November a fund was launched to gain the funds to buy a property for BEMA. The Building was No 4 Broad Plain in Bristol.

No 4 Broad Plain was opened by John Evans on 24th May 1979. In 43 years of trading this was to be the first building owned by BEMA.

In July a committee had been set up in South Wales.

The first lady Sally-Jane Coode was elected to the BEMA Council and she later became President in 1988.

BEMA moved in with the EEF and rented out 4 Broad Plain.

Change of Name to British Engineering Manufacturers' Association.

BEMA sold 4 Broad Plain and moved again to Unit 1 Millers Court in Clevedon.


David Dye joined as Marketing and Training Executive.

BEMA moved to Yate, South Gloucestershire.

Paul Fricker joined as Apprentice Instructor.

Opened its new training centre with the help of 6 member companies (Broadway, DS Machinery, McBraida, Nylaplas, Ravenscourt, Reynolds) and welcomed 12 Apprentices.

Brian Sims joined as Instructor/Tutor.


Richard Walker joined as Training Officer along with Mike Brain as a Training Instructor.


Jack Murdoch-North joined as Course Co-ordinator.


Andrew Dunster joined as Apprentice Instructor.


John (Jack) Evans was Hon. General secretary for 11 years and then became junior vice president and in turn president in 1949. He sadly died a few months before the golden jubilee celebrations.

Mr E G Gerrish (Ted) was the first president to wear the presidential badge known as The Crispin Badge in honour of the association’s oldest member George Crispin.