John Clutton, born in 1809, would become become one of the most eminent surveyors of his generation. One of the 20 founding fathers of the Surveying Institution (which later became RICS), in 1868 he served as its first President.
Clutton moved to London in 1837 to set up in practice on his own account, prompted by the sudden growth of surveying businesses negotiating land purchases for railway construction. This formed a basis from which the present-day firm Cluttons grew.
John Clutton became a member of the Royal Agricultural Society in 1838 and was recruited as an associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1848. However, it was arguably the Land Surveyors Club, formed in 1834 and which Clutton was elected to in 1839 which was the most influential society, as it demonstrated the desire for co-operation and sharing of knowledge between members.
Despite some years when the organisation acted as a dining club there were now different centres established both in London and in other large centres of industry. Membership included not only the Land Surveyor but also the building and mineral surveyor. This then provided the impetus for the foundation of the Surveying Institution. This was formed on 23 March 1868 under Clutton’s leadership.
A sub-lease of 12 Great George Street was negotiated where, on 9 November 1868, the Institution opened its first annual session with 131 members and 19 associates on its books. John Clutton’s opening address was typically modest but identified the challenges of the time for the growing surveying profession including the great diversity of the surveyor’s work and how indispensable surveyors had become to society.
Clutton spelled out the aims of the Institution which can be summarised as, ‘to secure the advancement and facilitate the acquisition of that knowledge which constitutes the profession of a surveyor’ and ‘to promote the general interest of the profession and to maintain its usefulness for the public advantage’.
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