1880 – The Fund was established on April 1st when the first contribution from Sir David Bart Salomons was made. Other early donors to the Fund were Sir William Preece, Alexander Siemens and Hugo Hirst.
Hugo Hirst was a founder of the General Electric Company Ltd. Born in Munich in 1863, he came to Britain in 1870. His life's work was the creation of GEC. The late Gustav Byng founded this company, (first called the General Apparatus Co.) and Hugo Hirst joined him in 1886. The company sold electrical appliances and he became Managing Director of the Company in 1900 and the Chairman in 1910.
Lord Hirst was one of the first to realize the importance of research in industry, and GEC's research laboratories are among the leading industrial laboratories of the world. He joined the Institution in 1888 as an Associate and was elected a member in 1898; he then became an honorary member in 1935. He served on the Council for 9 years and played a leading part in creating the Benevolent Fund.
1900 – The first recorded grant of £20 was given to a C. Capito.
1944 – An appeal was established for the Homes Fund, the Chester’s Estate - “There were two unexpected and magnificent responses.” - One member gave the Fund “A deferred option of using his house and garden with its furniture and equipment as a home for aged, infirmed or convalescent members". Another has offered his house and estate for use in "immediate fulfilment of the objects of the new Fund.” – The Chester’s Estate was given by a member who joined the Institution in 1897 (Mr. Speirs)
1945 – A target of £50,000 was set for the Homes Fund. The Homes Sub-Committee was formed and the Chairman Mr Ernest Leete elected.
1947 – The first conference of local honorary treasurers was held on May 14th at the Institution. The Fund was formed into an “Incorporated body.”
1949 - Building operations commenced on September 12th on “The Chester’s” Estate. The two architects involved were Mr Louis de Soissons and Mr Kenneth Peacock.
1950 – The first house in the Chester’s Estate was occupied on July 25th. Eight of the 26 homes were completed in the August.
1951 - The Chester’s Residential Estate at Malden, Surrey was officially opened on May 18th.
1952 - Building work was completed on the Chester’s Estate.
1960 – The Benevolent Fund applied to be a registered charity with the Charity Commission.
1966 - C.W. Spiers died in the February giving the Fund the financial means to buy his estate at New Malden for the Benevolent Fund’s own use.
1967 – Work converting the Malden Estate into flats begins.
1970 - Lord Nelson becomes President of the IEE.
1977 – Half of the Chesters Estate was sold in February - three and a half acres and eight houses. The sale amounted to £243k which comprised the Accommodation Fund. The fund was used solely for the upkeep of the Chesters Estate and for providing accommodation for the Fund’s beneficiaries. Restrictions were imposed by the Charity Commissioners which reduced the remit of the fund.
1987 – The decision was made to extend the main Chester House in order to provide a modern residential home, with additional facilities for nursing care.
1990 - August of this year saw a revamped Speirs House opened. Originally opened for retired members of the Institution of Electrical Engineers and their dependents, it was later opened up for external applicants providing a high standard of accommodation for 26 residents.
2009 – The decision is made to sell Speirs House.
2010 – On the 1st March Speirs House was sold and the proceeds have created the “Speirs Fund” which will provide financial support to those with care and respite needs.