Engineer of the Week No 2.
Happy 155th birthday to
Lady Margaret Bruce Moir OBE [née Pennycook] (10th January 1864 – 5th October 1942)
Margaret Pennycook, later Lady Moir, was born to John and Margaret Pennycook of South Queensferry, Scotland in 1864. Her father was a quarry manager, so perhaps this was how Margaret met her future husband, Ernest Moir, when he was working as a civil engineer on the south cantilever of the Forth Bridge. We know nothing of her early education but her marriage gave her privileged access not only to the construction site of this bridge but many other major civil engineering works on which her husband worked. She would joke self-deprecatingly, that she was an “Engineer-by-marriage” but, during the Great War, she trained as a lathe operator and was employed in this role for more than eighteen months.
When she realised that many munitions workers were not getting any days off at all, she organized the Week End Relief Scheme for industrial workers; their places being taken by Moir herself and other educated and privileged women. This scheme was launched at the Vickers factories at Erith in Kent, but spread elsewhere. This and her efforts ion behalf of the National War Savings led to the award of an OBE in 1920.
Margaret Moir worked with her friends, Sir Charles and Lady Parsons to set up the Women’s Engineering Society in 1919 and became its President 10 years later. Throughout her involvement with the Society, her personal financial support and her efforts to encourage other aristocratic women with technical interests to contribute to the Society, were key to its survival in its early decades. She hosted lectures at her London home and also helped to set up the Electrical Association for Women in 1924, becoming its President in 1932 and overseeing the opening of its first public showrooms in London’s Regent Street. She was also involved in housing and children’s charities and died in 1942.