At the instigation of the Iron and Steel Federation, the late Bernard Godfrey began
work in 1952 on the first edition of the Steel Designers’ Manual. As principal author
he worked on the manuscript almost continuously for a period of two years. On
many Friday evenings he would meet with his co-authors, Charles Gray, Lewis Kent
and W.E. Mitchell to review progress and resolve outstanding technical problems.
A remarkable book emerged.Within approximately 900 pages it was possible for
the steel designer to find everything necessary to carry out the detailed design of
most conventional steelwork. Although not intended as an analytical treatise, the
book contained the best summary of methods of analysis then available.The standard
solutions, influence lines and formulae for frames could be used by the ingenious
designer to disentangle the analysis of the most complex structure. Information
on element design was intermingled with guidance on the design of both overall
structures and connections. It was a book to dip into rather than read from cover
to cover. However well one thought one knew its contents, it was amazing how often
a further reading would give some useful insight into current problems. Readers
forgave its idiosyncrasies, especially in the order of presentation. How could anyone
justify slipping a detailed treatment of angle struts between a very general discussion
of space frames and an overall presentation on engineering workshop design?
The book was very popular. It ran to four editions with numerous reprints in both
hard and soft covers. Special versions were also produced for overseas markets.
Each edition was updated by the introduction of new material from a variety of
sources. However, the book gradually lost the coherence of its original authorship
and it became clear in the 1980s that a more radical revision was required.
After 36 very successful years it was decided to rewrite and re-order the book,
while retaining its special character. This decision coincided with the formation of
the Steel Construction Institute and it was given the task of co-ordinating this
A complete restructuring of the book was undertaken for the fifth edition, with
more material on overall design and a new section on construction. The analytical
material was condensed because it is now widely available elsewhere, but all the
design data were retained in order to maintain the practical usefulness of the book
as a day-to-day design manual. Allowable stress design concepts were replaced by
limit state design encompassing BS 5950 for buildings and BS 5400 for bridges.
Design examples are to the more appropriate of these two codes for each particular