1947 to 1972 - Auspicious Beginnings
The organisation that came to be known as the Royal Institute of Navigation was formed on 12 March 1947, following the example of the US Institute of navigation. It was inspired by a sense of the important part navigation had played in winning the Second World War. The wartime ingenuity in navigation gathered pace in the post-war years, and the Institute of Navigation was created to give scientists, technologists and practitioners from the many fields of navigation an environment to learn, to share
experiences, and to promote navigational knowledge in all its forms.
The Institute had support from several noted navigation celebrities of the day - at its launch Sir Harold Spencer Jones, the Astronomer-Royal, was sworn in as President, with support from Air Chief Marshal Sir John Slessor (Deputy Chief of the Air Staff) and Sir Robert Watson-Watt as Vice-Presidents. The Institute's first Executive Secretary (later to be renamed Director) was prolific maritime navigator Michael Richey, and it was he who, in
1948, took it upon himself to launch the Journal of Navigation.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the Institute broadened its outlook from pure navigation issues to address safety issues, and forged new and valuable relationships with other leading European organisations. Together, they addressed the important navigational and safety issues of the day.
In 1972, to coincide with its 25th year of existence, the Institute of Navigation became the Royal Institute of Navigation, following recognition by Her Majesty the Queen.
1972 to 2002 - Building and Growing
1970s, the working parties began to publish reports on navigation and
safety issues. They covered topics from the importance of traffic
separation and collision prevention in the maritime environment to fuel
reserves in aircraft. As the Institute's focus broadened, it began to
organise conferences to discuss these issues, on both a national and an international level.
But navigation itself had not stood still. First the development of
Loran, and then in 1978, the launch of the first GPS satellite,
threatened to overwhelm the very idea of needing a Royal Institute of
Navigation, as position-finding became a relatively automatic - and
automated - function. However, the broad church of the RIN ensured it
not only survived, but found a way to thrive in the new era of satellite
In 1984, a 'Way Ahead Group' appointed by the RIN Council
recommended several crucial additions to its profile, including the
creation of Special Interest Groups and the launch of a populist
newsletter. This later became Navigation News. It was also during the
early 1980s that the Institute broadened its focus again to include
animal navigation in its remit, and moved to proactively recruit
These moves, allied to a determination to embrace
global satellite navigation systems and information technology as
important elements in modern navigation, helped the RIN evolve into a
21st century organisation, with a broad range of support and interests.
Between 1984-1994, the Institute ran a series of larger European
conferences and added more and more Special Interest Groups to its
portfolio, including the Land Navigation and Location Group and the
Navigation on Foot Group, to reflect the growth in popularity of
navigation hobbies such as geocaching, hillwalking and orienteering.
The creation of a range of competitions helped the Institute attract
younger members and, more recently, we have added significant numbers
of university students to the membership.
The 21st Century - Into The Future
The process of
the RIN's evolution continues today. In 2002, the RIN made its first appearance on the
internet, and its website has been consistently popular ever since as a
source of news for everyone with an interest in navigation. In 2004,
the Council began investigating ways to provide members with legal
protection. Three years later, to mark its 60th anniversary in 2007,
the Institute changed its status once again, as it had to mark its
25th. It gained a Royal Charter, becoming an 'incorporated body' just
after the stroke of midnight on January 1 2007. In the wake of the
change, the Institute rebranded itself, developing
a new logo for the 21st century and a new website to serve members and
visitors as an electronic 'version' of the Institute itself.
the navigation community itself evolves in the 21st century, the RIN
will develop to meet its changing needs. Going forward, the Institute will continue to
increase its corporate and affiliate Membership, and reach out to
new audiences, in particular young people.
The first 60 years of the RIN have taken it far from its original
starting point. But while the way in which it achieves its objectives
may be different now, its aims remain the same today as they were in
the strength to evolve still remains embodied in those members who play
an active part in the Institute's life. To shape the RIN of tomorrow, join or get involved today.