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How I became CGeol

Rick Brassington, newly elected Council member, describes how he became chartered in the early days of the ‘Institution of Geologists’.

BrassingtonCroppedcopyresized.JPGBack in 1968 I worked with civil engineers in the Engineers Department at the Severn River Authority.  I was not regarded as a ‘professional’ and so had a lower status.  When I heard that the Geological Society was looking at establishing a professional body for geologists I gave it my full support.  Although Council of the day was in favour, there was opposition - which meant that it had to be achieved separately (albeit with some support from GSL). 


After initial consultations the Association for the Promotion of an Institution of Professional Geologists (APIPG) was established - from which the Institution of Geologists (IG) was subsequently created.  IG produced rules for corporate membership that mirrored professional qualifications in other institutions like the Institution of Civil Engineers and encouraged people to join. 

Geologists from all branches supported the idea, although the greatest support came from engineering geologists and hydrogeologists.  In 1983 IG asked its members what was the most important thing to do, and the unanimous answer was the acquisition of a Royal Charter that would enable IG to create the qualification ‘Chartered Geologist’. 

IG prepared a draft Royal Charter for submission to the Privy Council, and by January 1986 this was sent for informal comment.  As it referred to the possibility of a future unification between the IG and GSL, the Privy Council said that the petition should be placed on hold until that possibility was resolved.  IG then approached GSL requesting that a possible merger should be explored.  A joint Co-operation Committee was set up comprising three senior members of each organisation and chaired by former President Prof. Howel Francis as someone seen as neutral by both sides.


It took some time for the Committee to gain each other’s trust and for meaningful discussions to take place.  It was recognised on both sides that merger would mean significant changes to both bodies and this complex process took four years to achieve.  The decision whether to merge was made by the members of both bodies and in the end, IG’s organisation was merged into that of the Society, losing some of its identity in the process and with the Institution’s name disappearing altogether.  The majority of IG members willingly gave up IG’s treasured separate identity in the greater interests of the geological community. The two bodies formally ‘re-unified’ on 1 January 1991. 

With reunification, 259 members of IG who had not belonged to GSL were granted Fellowship and 586 members of IG became the first Chartered Geologists even before the reunification process was completed.  The date on my certificate is 10 October 1990.

Besides the formation of the CGeol qualification, IG created many other things that are now established part of GSL including the regional groups, the Aberconway Medal, the Geologist’s Directory, and Geoscientist, which was formerly the IG magazine British Geologist.  The reorganisation that took place in the mid-1990s was also a consequence of the re-unification and the spirit of change that it brought.

  • Rick Brassington has written a history of the IG, which can be read on the Society website under ‘About Us’ – ‘History’.  See also Letters, this issue.