Engineer of the Week No.120: Madeleine Marie Nobbs (Mrs. D. Moody) MIMechE, MIHVE, MRSanI (14th December 1914 - 10th December 1970)
On her 105th birthday, our woman in engineering today is Madeleine Nobbs, building services engineer.
Madeleine was born in 1914 and educated at a convent school. Her father, Walter W Nobbs was very well known in the heating and ventilation engineering world and his father had also been a civil engineer. She very reluctantly started her working life as a shorthand typist but persuaded a firm of heating and venitlation engineers that she would be suited to the drawing office, where she started as a tracer. Her studies at Borough Polytechnic enable her to progress to H&V work for an architect’s office including estimating and supervising installation. During the war she designed air raid shelters. Then she found a variety of jobs that allowed her to get practical bench and site experience until she was a fully qualifed engineer and joined her father’s firm as a junior partner. Her father died in 1954 in the middle of a major contract on the rebuilding of the Old Bailey after war damage, so Madeleine stepped up to become senior partner and take over the firm on her own account and complete the heating and ventilation contract. Around the same time she met her future husband, Denis Moody, also an engineer and they married in 1961. Unfortunately, he died a few years later and she immersed herself in major building work to convert an old barn into a home, doing most of the work herself, to get over her loss.
She joined the Women’s Engineering Society in 1941 and was soon active on the council, becoming president in 1959-60. She contributed many papers on heating and ventilation to The Woman Engineer and gained full membership of a number of engineering institutions. She was very gregarious, loved the theatre, huge houseparties at her home, fast cars and outrageous hats. Sadly, she died suddenly at the age of only 56, in 1970.