Rachel Parsons

Why is it  that, all too often, one person’s achievements dominates a family? This is possibly the case of Rachel Parsons whose family was dominated by her father’s achievements. He was a great engineer in the North East of England and at his firm, Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company, he  pioneered the building of the ship The Turbinia. Arguably, Rachel’s achievement was great and should not be overlooked.

Rachel Parsons was born in 1885 and during her childhood was fascinated by science and her father’s engineering pursuits. She sailed with him on Turbinia on  its early voyages and was determined to have a career in the exciting, heavy engineering industries of Tyneside. She was also one of that first wave of women to go to Cambridge University where she was one of only three to study mechanical sciences. Despite her academic achievement and experience she never received her degree from Cambridge because, at that time, women were barred from doing so.

About Deborah Jaffe

Deborah Jaffé is a cultural and design historian and the author of Inegnious Women (2003). She has special interests in the history of industrial design, technology and innovation; childhood, play and toys; memory studies and souvenirs. Her other published books include The History of Toys and Victoria - a celebration and she is the editor of NewcomenLinks, for Newcomen, the International Society for the History of Engineering and Technology. More at: www.deborahjaffe.net

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