In 1944 the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research's Post-war Development Committee declared that it was essential to improve facilities for research into the problems of mechanical engineering. In accordance with the recommendations of this committee, a Mechanical Engineering Research Organisation was established by the department in 1946 to conduct and encourage research in mechanical engineering on a large scale. Shortly after, in 1947, it was decided to establish a separate Mechanical Engineering Research Laboratory, which became the National Engineering Laboratory (NEL) in 1959.
NEL’s overarching purpose has always been to establish the principles and extend the knowledge of mechanical engineering science so that industry can be provided with the basic information needed to solve particular problems.
Historically, the 'lab' was organised into a number of subject-based divisions, including the Creep Division, an important part of the UK effort to catalogue wear characteristics of materials, a Control Systems Division, Manufacturing Services Division, Fluid Power Division and Design Analysis Division.
NEL became part of the TÜV SÜD group in 1995. TUV SUD NEL now has a mixed portfolio of work from both government and the private sector.