To celebrate the centenary of the Women's Engineering Society, and the past 100 years of women in engineering, 2019 has been dedicated to a project called Engineer of the Week (EOTW) where each week we have focused attention on some of our Magnificent Women Engineers. In total we have produced 127 blogs! These blogs have been written by Nina Baker, and publicised through this and the WES social outreach channels of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Below are the biographies that have been produced, and the full list can be seen here.
Biographies can be found posted during different months of the year, and the links to these months can be found on the right hand side of this page:
Biographies 1-9 are posted in the January 2019 archive
10-17 in the February 2019 archive
18-27 in the March 2019 archive
28-36 in the April 2019 archive
37-46 in the May 2019 archive
47-53 in the June 2019 archive
54-67 in the July 2019 archive
68-76 in the August 2019 archive
77-87 in the September 2019 archive
88-101 in the October 2019 archive
102-114 in the November 2019 archive
115-127 in the December 2019 archive
Engineer of the Week No.127: Constance Fligg Tipper (nee Elam) MA, DSc, FICST (16th February 1894 - 14th December 1995).
For our very last EOTW for 2019, here is Constance Tipper, a very eminent metallurgist and a very rare example of an industry-standard test named after a woman. “Her work developed the new science of fracture mechanics, which is still used by engineers today to develop aeroplane wings that don't fall off and car axles that stay attached. So, today as the mechanical world around you doesn't fall apart, give thanks to Constance Tipper.” (http://www.engineerguy.com/comm/3731.htm)
Constance was the daughter of a surgeon, William Henry Elam, and was educated at St Felix School, Southwold. She then went to Newnham College, Cambridge, gaining a third in part one of the natural sciences tripos in 1915. She first worked at the National Physical Laboratory’s metallurgy department, then at the Royal School of Mines, South Kensington, as an research assistant to Professor Harold Carpenter (1917). The Frecheville (1921–3) and the Royal Society Armourers and Brasiers (1924–9) eellowships enabled her to do research into the strength of single crystal aluminium. This was followed by research with Geoffrey Taylor, leading to the modern understanding of crystal plasticity. This period of work led to London University awarding her a DSc degree (1926).
In 1928 Constance married George Howlett Tipper and moved to Newnham College, which had awarded her a research fellowship (1930–31). She remained there for over thirty years, during which time she occasionally lectured there and at the Chelsea Polytechnic. The university gave her testing facilities in the engineering department, and in 1947 the college elected her to be an associate fellow for three years.In 1949 the University made her a reader in mechanical engineering, which meant she was a full member of the faculty of engineering.
Her war work led to her most influential research – on the deformation and fracture of iron and steel. This arose because theAdmiralty Ship Welding Committee wanted fractures in all-welded ships (eg the innovative Liberty ships) to be investigated. Constance Tipper found that their steel became dangerously brittle at low temperatures, and she developed her eponymous edge-notch test to predict whether the metal would behave in a brittle or ductile manner at service temperature. By 1948 she had authored or co-authored 12 academic papers and her wartime work led to her seminal book The Brittle Fracture Story (1962), the culmination of her career.
She also enjoyed gardening, painting, and music. She died in 1995.
Engineer of the Week No.126: Mrs Christiana Rose (nee Cambell) (27 Dec 1792 – 10 Dec 1871)
On her 227th birthday we remember one of our ‘oldest’ engineers of the week, iron-founder and machinery manufacturer, Christiana Rose.
Christiana Campbell was born into a family whose business was ship chandlery and brass founding. Her father, Duncan Campbell had built the Old Foundry, Hull into one of the principal manufacturers of specialist machinery for the seed oil processing industry. Her brother died young and she seemingly stepped into the place he must have been expected to take learning to run the family firm. In 1812 the foundry was engaged in war work, casting cannons for the Battle of Waterloo. In 1818 Christiana married Captain John Rose and in 1823 they had their only child, Susan. When her father died in 1833 Mrs. Christiana Rose inherited ownership of the company. She employed Mr. James Downs, initially as a manager and later a partner in the company. By 1841 Christiana was a widow but still busy with her company. The company started to branch out from brass founding and in 1847 were advertising themselves as “Iron and Brass Founders, and Steam Engine and Boiler manufacturers”. There was a changing cast of partners in this period but Christiana was cer tainly at the helm and known for her expertise to the extent that she was taking on apprentices under her own name in 1861: “Indenture of apprenticeship Parties: (i) Michael Fenton, foreman oil miller of Sculcoates and Michael Fenton, his son, a minor (ii) Christiana Rose of Hull, iron founder and engineer. Trade of fitter and turner Wages to be paid as specified.” The company would have needed new employees at that time as in only two years, between 1861 and 1863, her Old Foundry had built and installed over one hundred double presses, all of which bore the name C Rose.
Mrs Rose died in 1871 and in 1874 her grandson Mr. Campbell Thompson also became a partner and the company name became Rose, Downs and Thompson. The company was to trade under this name for over 100 years and became renowned throughout the world as a leading supplier of oil processing equipment. We do not know what she looked like as no portrait seems to exist but there is a ompany advert from around the time of her death and a photo of women working in the factory in the 1920s.
Engineer of the Week No.125: Marjorie Elsa Bell, BSc, Grad.IEE, C.Eng., MIISO, MIOSH, HonMWES (26th December 1906 - 10th June 2001)
Today on her 113th Boxing day birthday, we remember WES President Marjorie Bell, electrical engineer and factory inspector.
Marjorie Bell was born in 1906 in Edmonton, Middlesex. Her father was an engineering fitter and there were also 2 brothers, so she did not come from a well-off background. Her education was at a convent high school, from which she went straight to work at Cambridge Scientific Instrument Co, following a visit which piqued her interest in technical work. She also worked at the Bungay Gas and Electricity Co., where her duties even included shovelling the coal from which the gas was made. During the 1920s she attended Northampton Engineering College of the City university, thought to have been theirfirst female electrical engineering student and graduated with a BSc. During her course she was able to work in various electrical engineering firms. In 1933 she was a part time lecturer at Woolwich Polytechnic and lived with her mother in Wood Green, North London, and in 1934 started as Demonstrator in Worthing’s local authority electrical showrooms, which the local press seemed to find of great interest. 1936 saw her start on her long career as an HM Inspector of Factories, which took her not only to postings all over England but also, in 1947, to Palestine where she inspected fruit packing and canning factories, potash works and oil refineries. Although there were often bullets whizzing overhead, she considered her year in Palestine one of the happiest of her life. Her final post as an HMIF was as district inspector for London, following which she presumably had to retire from the Civil Service, at the then standard women’s retirement age of 60. She undertook various consultancies and committee work on industrial safety, including membership of the first EU CENELEC working group on electric toy safety and was the first woman to chair a BSI technical standards committee, again on toys.
“I remember a story told me by Marjoie Bell. She became a factory inspector, in the days when factory inspectors were respected and feared. She went to visit a factory and chose to go there on her bike. She approached the gatehouse in style, only to be told by the guard, "Get off your bike and get out of the way quick, dearie, the factory inspector is coming!" To which she was delighted to reply, "I AM the factory inspector!" “ [As told by Marjorie to Jackie Carpenter]
Having joined WES in 1932, she was on various local branch committees, national council and became president in 1957-58. In 1953, along with 2 other eminent members of WES, she was awarded the Coronation Medal and in 1972 was made an Honorary Member of WES.
Marjorie was known for her gregariousness and continued to attend WES conferences almost to the end of her life. Her other interests included being an active member of the Soroptimists, keeping bees and two allotments until just before she died. She died in Enfield in 2001 and, characteristically, had made arrangements to leave her body to science and to have a non-religious funeral.
On this day in 1919 (24 December) the Women's Engineering Society came into being as a company for the first time, according to the first WES Mem and Arts.
Engineer of the Week No.124: Blanche Coules Thornycroft AINA (23rd December 1873 - 1951)
On her 146th birthday, we remember naval architect Blanche Thornycroft.
Blanche Thornycroft was one of the earliest women to have a significant role in engineering in Britain, and the first woman to be elected to an Associate Membership of the Institution of Naval Architects. For a fuller article, by Keith Harcourt, see http://journal.sciencemuseum.ac.uk/browse/issue-10/blanche-thornycroft/ , from which the information for this EOTW profile has come. Thanks also for the pictures from The Classic Boat Museum, https://www.classicboatmuseum.com/
Born into a privileged position as daughter of John Thornycroft, shipbuilder, there is no record that Blanche had any formal school or university education in the maths and sciences which she would obviously have needed for her future work. Since she was born in an era when ‘learning by doing’, with a professional engineer as Master, her immersion in the family business as an informal ‘pupil’ would not have been as unusual a way into engineering as it became 40 years later.
The Thornycroft family home at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight, included facilities to explore the design of ships. An apparently decorative garden pond included sophisticated measuring equipment so that it could be used as a testing tank. Ship models were towed through the water at a controlled velocity, and measuring instruments were in a nearby building. One of the best images of Blanche is of her holding one of the discs from the recording device, made by the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company, which recorded the performance of the model boat in the ‘Lily Pond’ tank. These discs were covered in soot which was scratched off to record the behaviour of the test vessel, in much the same way as early phonograph records were made. She worked with her father and brother on a variety of naval ships’ and powercraft designs, including a design for a coastal motor torpedo-boat and the behaviour of wire hawsers during WW1. In 1919 the AGM of Institution of Naval Architects elected to her to be its first female Associate Member, although she seems not to have been active in the Institution. The last recorded date when she was doing her naval architecture work was in 1935, when she was working on a ‘special launch’ for the RAF. She never married but her recreational interest in sailing, and membership of the local sailing club continued until her death in 1951.
Engineer of the Week No.123: Dorothy Norman Pearse (née Spicer)
(31 July 1908 - 23 December 1946)
In the week of her tragic death 73 years ago, we remember aeronautical engineer, Dorothy Spicer.
Dorothy Spicer was an aviator and aeronautical engineer. From a privileged background she had a good education in Belgium and at University College London. As soon as she ‘came of age’ (21), she started her flying training at the London Aeroplane Club, Stag Lane. She quickly got her A licence as a private pilot and soon after obtained her B and C licences, allowing her to fly as a commercial pilot, completing the ‘set’ with the D licence (qualifying to inspect and pass as airworthy both engines and planes) in 1935, the first woman to do so. These qualified her at all levels then available, as a ground engineer as well as pilot. During her first flying lessons she met Pauline Gower with whom she would form a lifelong friendship as well as business partnership. They joined the, then popular, charity air circus display circuit, initially he Crimson Fleet air circus and later the British Hospitals' Air Pageants. Dorothy became something of a celebrity and undertook many speaking engagements relating to her flying expertise. For a couple of years she and Gower ran an air taxi business but it was ultimately not very successful and ceased in 1938, the same year in which she married and also went to work for the Air Registration Board. In 1939 her daughter, Patricia, was born and the following year Dorothy joined her husband at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough. Her work was as an air observer and research assistant, and her name is on two reports: one on tests of de-icing measures and another on a deflector plate to prevent sand entering the engines of the Hurricane plane. After the war Dorothy and her husband went to Rio de Janeiro where he had got a job with British Aviation Services Ltd. In December 1946 both of them were killed when the plane, in which they were passengers, crashed into a mountain on approach to Rio de Janeiro.
Dorothy had been an active member of the Women’s Engineering Society and its aviation section from 1931 and contributed articles to The Woman Engineer including "Selection and Treatment of Steels for Aero-Engines", in 1937. Her death was much mourned, coming as it did so close to the death (in childbirth) of her friend Pauline Gower. The Royal Aircraft Establishment operated a Dorothy Spicer Award for several years after her death.
Engineer of the Week No.122: Mrs Emily ‘M.M.’ Dunn, MIQ (nee Harris) (10th January 1890 - 20th December 1967)
On the 52nd anniversary of her death, we remembe Emily Dunn, quarrywoman.
Astonishingly Emily Dunn is one of two Yorkshirewomen running their own quarries in the first half of the 20th century, the other being Anne Greaves.
She was born in Hull, into a complex family of stepsiblings in which both parents had had previous marriages. The family was reasonably well off as her father was a land agent. Nothing is known of her education but the family would probably have been able to affor for her to remain at the local school into her teens. In 1912 she married Eward Crowhurst Dunn, who was manager of the Hatfield Cooperative Society grocery.
It is unclear how she came to be a quarry owner in the first place, but at the very young age of 23 she was already the proprietor of a small quarry in Dunsville to the north east of Doncaster, Yorkshire, when her quarry manager died and she found herself forced to take over running it. She had neither technical experience nor capital and the quarry was running on a very small scale: 3 men with shovels, riddles and wheelbarrows. To make her life even more difficult, she was trying to sell quarry sand and gravel in a district where builders were more accustomed to river gravel. To overcome this, she travelled south to find contractors willing to buy her products.
The quarries also produced unexpected materials, including 2 human skeletons which immediately disintegrated, but also various fossils and she donated 160 fossils of Pleistocene bones found in her quarries to the Kingston upon Hull Museum in 1927.
The next problem was transport, so she hired and then bought steam traction engines but the roads authorities would not let these colossally heavy vehicles on many roads and bridges, so she had a railway siding built to her quarry but found that the rates charged by the rail companies prohibitive. This forced her back to road transport and she built up a fleet of petrol motor lorries.
Even to produce satisfactory grades of sand and gravel Mrs Dunn was obliged to turn to her own ingenuity to “….invent and install what rather looked like Heath Robinson attempts at washing plants.”. By 1929 she was employing from 30-50 men at the quarry and had upgraded her machinery to “...much larger and more up-to-date washing and breaking plant and layout. All these were under separate power but this year I have procured a cold start crude oil engine and have connected the whole of my washing and breaking plant under this one power which is working very satisfactorily and cheaply. I have also a paraffin / petrol locomotive for drawing the cubic yard tip wagons on light railway, which has enabled me to dispose of three horses and the necessary attendants. All this has been a big worry to me, as to a large extent I am my own engineer and technical adviser.” In around 1929 she diversified into concrete products, but not long afterwards she put the quarry on the market and she and her husband moved to Filey where they ran a mixed farm for about 10 years.
In 1930 she exhibited her products at the Scarborough conference of the Institute of Quarrying, of which she was one of the first two women full members. She was also active in the Women’s Engineering Society and contributed articles about her work to its journal. Emily Dunn died in 1967, leaving the not inconsiderable sum for that time of £250k, but had apparently spent the last years of her life as a recluse, having been widowed in 1952.
Engineer of the Week No.121: Mrs Mary Patricia Kendrick (nee Boak), BA, CICE MBE (2nd May 1928 – 8th June 2015)
Whenever you hear of cities flooding or read about the potential for climate change and sealevel rise to flood our major cities, you can thank Mary Kendrick for her life’s work on the Thames and Mersey river systems.
Mary Kendrick was the foremost tidal engineer of her generation in the UK and a respected authority worldwide, despite not originally training in one of the engineering disciplines. She was born and educated in the English Midlands and gained a joint honours BA in geography and economics from the University of Nottingham in 1951, the same year that she married fellow student Les Kendrick. In 1956 applied for a secretarial post at Hydraulics Research Station Ltd, but her interviewer spotted that she was actually qualified to join them as an Assistant Experimental Officer, which was the start of her career-long work with HRS. Her first work with HRS was on their contract to investigate and propose solutions for Mersey Docks and Harbour Board into the deteriorating tidal volume and increasing silting in the Mersey estuary. Mary undertook field survey work in survey vessels measuring currents and following sediment transport pathways using radioactive tracers and fluorescent dyes. This work led to the paper she published with a colleague, Alan Price, ‘Field and model investigations into the reasons for siltation in the Mersey estuary’, in the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1963, earning them the 1964 Telford gold medal, for which Kendrick was the first woman to receive this award. The paper is still considered a seminal work and set the scene for her continuing career in this field.
In 1968 Mary was appointed to lead HRS’s team on the Thames flood prevention project, which culminated in the construction of the Thames Barrier in 1982. This involved not only an enormous amount of field survey work but also a great deal of public and political consultation, arguably the more difficult part. This was also the period when she was consulted on the hugely controversial proposal for a third London airport on the Maplin Sands, off the Essex coast, as well as various overseas projects.
On her retirement from HRS in 1988 (as a Principal Scientific Officer) she was awarde the MBE and was appointed by the UK government to become the first ever woman to be the acting conservator for the Mersey, a position created abouit 200 years ago to safeguard the navigation of the river in Liverpool. She was the first woman to take up the post, which was usually reserved for admirals. She was also active on behalf of the UK, in the Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses, only relinquishing that role shortly before her death. Mary Kendrick joined the Women’s Engineering Society in about 1970 and wrote several technical articles about her work for its journal as well as delivering the 1983 Verena Holmes lecture series, which were aimed at encouraging schoolgirls to enter engineering.
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.
"Engineer" of the Week No.119: Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (née Byron; 10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852)
On her 204th birthday we remember Ada Lovelace, mathematics writer.
In October each year, many university departments of computer science hold an “Ada Lovelace Day” to encourage their female students and staff. You will note that October is neither the month of her birth nor death – it has been picked purely for academic term time convenience.
I have felt it necessary to include Ada as one of the “Engineer of the Week” profiles because so many people consider her an important icon in promoting STEM work to girls and women. Ada Lovelace is very well known even amongst the general public who are not connected with any STEM fields – she is often the person named if they are asked to name a female engineer from the past. As such, I have not provided a detailed biography of Ada, since there are many to be found online and in books.
There is a computer programming language named after her – Ada being a high level development of the Pascal language. If you Google “Ada Lovelace”, some 1.7 million results appear and the following are a selection of the epithets applied to her from the first page of results:
Prophet of the computer age.
Powerful symbol for modern women in technology.
Computer Programmer, Mathematician.
The world's first computer programmer.
Associate of Charles Babbage, for whose prototype of a digital computer she created a program. She has been called the first computer programmer.
World's First Computer Programmer.
There are far more hagiographic pieces about her than there are critical considerations of her work. For a detailed, critical examination of the many claims made for her, read The Renaissance Mathematicus ( https://thonyc.wordpress.com/2018/11/03/no-simply-no/ ) and for a more enthusiastic survey of her work look at Untangling The Web ( https://www.wired.com/2015/12/untangling-the-tale-of-ada-lovelace/ ).
I do not consider her to have been an engineer – a mathematician, and a competent one - yes, but not one with significant original thoughts in that field. A talented writer, explainer/interpreter – also yes. In the matter of being the first to propose algorithms for general use of the mechanical computing machines – it is almost certain that both Babbage himself and (much earlier) Gottfried Leibniz had had the same ideas - but nowadays hers are the ones that are so widely known. She came from deep privilege – the celebrity daughter of a celebrity poet-hero, the indulged wife of a rich man, beautiful, more highly educated than almost any woman in the country at the time – all of these contribute to her fame then and now. But we do her undoubted talents no favours if we exaggerate them and she herself would probably have been the first to do a critical analysis of today’s many fawning profiles of her. Her lessons to today’s young people who might enter STEM work should be: read widely, seek concrete evidence, and ask what might be possible next.
Engineer of the Week No.117: Rosemary Ethel Elizabeth West (nee Lambert) MA MIEE, CEng (8th December 1928 - 6th February 2013)
On what would have been her 91st birthday we celebrate the work of Rosemary West, WES president and pioneering computer engineer.
Rosemary was born in 1928 in Lyme Regis, Dorset, the second daughter of Edward William Lambert, who followed his father into the family’s law firm in Burma before entering the British colonial service and rising to become the Director of the Crown Office in Burma (Myanmar). She was educated a number of boarding schools in the UK and even in Burma and India during the war years and was accepted to read maths at Oxford, where she was a rowing Blue. Having had a vacation job with Metropolitan Vickers, she changed to engineering and graduated in Engineering Sciences from Somerville College, Oxford, in 1951, only the third woman ever to do so from Oxford. She went straight into a graduate apprenticeship with GEC Ltd in Coventry and by 1957 was one of their electronic development engineers in the Applied Development Laboratories, working on specialised test equipment. The following year her daughter was born which led GEC to sack her, following which she taught in a school and also in Kirkcaldy Technical College. In 1971 she and her husband set up Westek Engineering Ltd, in Ibstock, Leicestershire, developing microcomputer systems, interfaces and computer-controlled transducers for test equipment and industrial controls. By 1967 she was a chartered engineer and a full member of the IEE. By the time she became President of the Society she was working as a microcomputer specialist in the Computer Centre at Loughborough University of Technology.
Rosemary joined WES in 1950 and by 1961 was chair of the Midlands branch, becoming the society’s president in 1982-3. She wrote several pieces for The Woman Engineer to stimulate members to think about the future of the Society. Given her own experiences of being made redundant and of trying to fit in a career with a family she was very interested in the whole issue of women returning to work after career breaks which must have tied in very well with her successor, Professor Daphne Jackson’s similar interests. She wrote an article, Engineering Management for Women, for the IEEProceedings and produced a WES booklet for schoolgirls, What is Engineering? She died in 2013, in the Isle of Wight.
Engineer of the Week No. 116: Maria de Lourdes Ruivo da Silva de Matos Pintasilgo, GCC GCIH GCL (18 January 1930 – Lisbon, 10 July 2004)
Pintasilgo was a chemical engineer and Portuguese politician. She was the first and to date only woman to serve as Prime Minister of Portugal, albeit for only 100 days, in 1979.
Educated at a Lisbon secondary school, she was an enthusiastic member of the compulsory youth organisation, Mocidade Portuguesa Feminina, and also joined Acção Católica (Catholic Action). She then went to the Instituto Superior Técnico graduating in industrial chemical engineering in 1953. Whilst there she became active the Catholic's women's student movement, which was the start of her political interests. Her first job after university was as a graduate trainee with the national Nuclear Energy Board. She then moved to one of Portugal’s oldest and largest engineering conglomerate with interests in cement plants, Companhia União Fabril. By 1954, she held the position of chief engineer of the research and projects division, from which she became responsible for the company's technical journals, until she left in 1960, thus ending her period as an engineer. Her political career developed with various organisations in the Roman Catholic laywomen's movement whilst working for the government's program for development and social change. In 1974 she was appointed secretary of state for social welfare in the first provisional government following the revolution, rising to become Minister of Social Affairs by early 1975. In 1975, Pintasilgo became Portugal's first Ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO. In 1979 the Portugese president asked her to become Prime Minister of the Portuguese caretaker government, for a period of 3 months, making her the 2nd woman prime minister in Europe (after Thatcher). Although her term of office very brief she was able to use it to introduce some social welfare reforms and later was elected to the European Parliament. She died in 2004 but since 2016, the Instituto Superior Técnico awards the Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo Award to 2 female engineering graduates.
Engineer of the Week No. 115: Isabel Hodgson Hadfield, MSc, DiplEd., MSPA (29th January 1893- 6th February 1965)
Chemical engineer Isabel Hadfield spent most of her career in research at the NPL. We do not generally think of fabrics as engineering materials these days but in the early days of aviation, cotton and linen were the usual coverings for aeroplanes’ wood-framed structures. Her research, initially for this purpose but later for more general industrial needs, looked at the effects of the mild acids used to process cloth and of sunshine on cotton fabrics. Her approach was entirely that of the engineer: the physical and chemical structures and properties of the material under consideration in respect to the stresses and strains which would be required of it.
Born in Hampshire, where her father was a schoolmaster, she was mainly raised in north east London. She graduated from East London College (now Queen Mary College) with a BSc in chemistry in 1914, then took a Diploma of Education and became a chemistry mistress for the Birmingham Education Council. In 1917 the demands of the war effort led her to join the National Physical Laboratory, where she would remain for a full career as a researcher. Her war work was, as discussed already, on the deterioration properties of cotton and linen in aeronautical use, on which she co-authored her first paper in 1918. In 1923 she gained an MSc in chemistry from East London Technical College, with her dissertation being on ‘doped’ fabrics. Her work on cotton, now for industrial purposes, continued through the 1920s, including the publication of 4 more papers, one of which she gave at the at Conference for Women in Science and industry, at the Empire Exhibition, Wembley,16th July 1925, later published in The Woman Engineer. In 1927 she was part of the NPL total solar eclipse expedition, for which she was to have provided the colour and photometric photographs, except that the entire proceedings descended to “a solemn farce” due to the total cloud cover for most that day! Her later career took her into metallurgy and research methods and by 1947 she was the most senior woman at NPL: a PSO in the Metallurgyy section, and was publishing on a range of related topics.
In 1933 she was one of the founder members of the Micro-chemical Group within the Chemistry Society (now RCS) and in 1944 was admitted as member to Society of Public Analysts. In 1948 she was the only woman on the committee developing BS1428 on microchemical analysis standards. She had a full career at the NPL, retiring at the usual age for women in 1953, with the rank of Principal Scientific Officer. She never married and died in Winchester in 1965.