About Julia Elton
Julia Elton grew up surrounded by pictures recording the march of industry across the British landscape. Her father, Sir Arthur Elton, was an inspired collector of books and pictures. His pictures formed the central core of the 1968 landmark exhibition, Art and the Industrial Revolution
. His collection is now at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust
Working for Ben Weinreb
In 1975 Julia joined B Weinreb Architectural Books. Ben was interested in engineering, seeing it as a concomitant to architecture but also as a field which had always been overlooked and he was happy to allow her to expand this side of his business. She wrote two substantial catalogues for Weinreb: No 45, Bridges, Docks & Harbours
, and No 50, Rivers & Canals
Elton Engineering Books
In 1985 Julia left Weinreb and set up Elton Engineering Books. Over the years, at intervals, she has produced catalogues
very much in the Weinreb mould with properly researched notes and good illustrations.
Conferences and exhibitions
Apart from bookselling Julia has been involved in a number of events concerning engineering history, including:
'The Brunel Bicentenary Conference - Celebrating the past, inspiring the future' - co-organised this conference in Bristol in 2006.
'The Great Engineers' - involved in selecting the pictures for this exhibition at the Royal College of Art in 1987.
'The Triumphant Bore' - co-organiser of this exhibition at Institution of Civil Engineers in 1994 to mark the 150th anniversary of Marc Isambard Brunelís Thames Tunnel. Julia also contributed a chapter to the catalogue as well as a comprehensive bibliography.
'The Engineers' - an exhibition at the Architectural Association in 1982, organised with Frank Newby, one of the leading structural engineers of our time, with whom Julia co-wrote the catalogue.
Writing and research
Julia wrote a chapter, 'Robert Stephenson in Society', in the recent biography of Robert Stephenson, Robert Stephenson the eminent engineer
, 2003, edited by Dr Michael Bailey.
She has written and continues to write entries for the Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers
produced by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).
She was co-author with John Allen of Edward Short and the 1714 Newcomen Engine at Bilston, Staffs
in Transactions of the Newcomen Society
, Vol 74, No 2, 2004. The paper describes a newly-discovered account book kept by the engineman of the the third or fourth atmospheric engine ever built by Thomas Newcomen.
Her presidential address to the Newcomen Society
was entitled, A light to lighten our darkness
. It was concerned with the development of lighthouse optics after the death of Fresnel in 1827 when his invention of the refracting lens was still in its infancy, a period that was until then unexplored. The research drew on Julia's collection of 19th century lighthouse books in French and English. Published in The International Journal for the History of Engineering & Techology
(formerly Transactions of the Newcomen Society
), Vol 79 No 2, July 2009.
Associations and Learned Societies
For many years Julia has been an active member of the Institution of Structural Engineers and also of the Newcomen Society for the History of Engineering and Technology.
President of the Newcomen Society