Technical Drawing Standards: A Brief History (BS 308 and all that).

BS 308 is the old familiar standard that many engineers grew up with. But did You know that it is no longer current?

The UK was the first country to adopt a national standard for technical drawing. Before the industrial revolution it was common place for workmen to work from prototypes. With the coming of the steam age it became clear that standard parts and components would be required to allow mass manufacture. Creating these standards became possible in 1840 when the blue print process was invented. For the first time many fabricators could work to identical drawings.

In 1901 the Institutions of Civil Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Naval Architects and the Iron and Steel Institute created a committee, to standardize iron and steel sections for bridges, railways and shipping. It subsequently extended its standardization work and became the British Engineering Standards Association in 1918, adopting the name British Standards Institution in 1931 after receiving its Royal Charter in 1929.

In 1998 a revision of the Charter enabled the organization to diversify and acquire other businesses, and the trading name was changed to BSI Group. BSI was instrumental in the formation of ISO , the International Organization for Standardization, in 1947 and of its European equivalent, CEN, in 1964.

Technical Drawing Standards BS 308 BS 8888

The first British Standard for Engineering Drawing Office Practice ‘BS 308’ was published in September 1927 and only contained 14 clauses and five illustrations. It was printed on A5 sheets of paper and third angle projection was used.

Over the years BS 308 was updated many times. From the early 1980’s BS 308 was revised to take account of ISO standards. In 1992 it was decided that the BSI could no longer keep up with the pace of ISO output and that they would accept any new standards that the ISO adopted, rather than continue to revise BS 308.

BS 308 slowly became superseded by the new ISO standards and in the year 2000 BS 308 was withdrawn and the new BS 8888 replaced it.

Read more about Technical drawing Standards.

2 Responses to “Technical Drawing Standards: A Brief History (BS 308 and all that).

  • Paul Mason
    12 years ago

    With referance to article about BS308, you could include the new BSEN Number and what if anything has cahnged other than the number

    • Hi Paul,

      Reviewing the changes to BS 8888? That’s not a bad idea.

      BS8888 doesn’t have an EN Number because it is not ratified by CEN. The BSI issues BS8888 as a guide to the BS/EN/ISO standards that cover technical product specification (Technical Drawing). You can find out how the naming conventions work here:

      BS 8888 includes more from the referenced BS/EN/ISO standards than previously to make the standard better value and to make it a more comprehensive standalone guide, rather than just an ‘index’ to the other standards.

      In the meantime you can find out more about BS8888 here:

      I hope that you find that useful,