Our History

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

Throughout the 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 navigation.

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 younger members.

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.

As 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 1947, and 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.

Contact Us

The Royal Institute of Navigation
1 Kensington Gore
London
SW7 2AT

+44 (0)20 7591 3134
admin@rin.org.uk

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