Female engineer on a China 1920's

13th November 2008, 20:01
An extract from my intended book

Holts also looked ahead to what could happen after the prolonged conflict ended and suspected, as was proven correct, that there would be a boom in the shipping world, albeit short-lived. They were of the belief that during such a boom, difficulties would be encountered finding adequate space in the shipyards for construction of new tonnage. To pre-empt that and to gain some managerial control over subsequent shipbuilding on their behalf, they began investing in their future security.

The first step was taken in April 1916 when a £200,000 interest in Caledon’s Dundee shipyard was acquired. In the following months they booked two building berths at Scott’s Greenock yard, for a period of five years for the construction of as much new tonnage as could be fitted into the period.

At the time of the Caledon purchase there was one Miss Victoria Alexandrina Drummond (a godchild of Queen Victoria) undergoing an engineering apprenticeship at the Lillybank engine shop at the shipyard. Henry Bell-Wortley, a Holt manager, and a partner in the yard, had taken a unique step by employing her and had also promised his full support in finding her a berth to obtain sea-going experience.

His promise was related to Laurence Holt, upon his investment in the shipyard. Bell-Wortley however died before Drummond had completed her training. Such was Holt’s respect for him that he felt obliged to fulfil the promise he had made.

Upon completion of her training Holt found her a berth as a third engineer aboard a “Blue Funnel” vessel. That was to obtain the necessary sea experience to enable her to sit a second engineer’s examination.

This unique situation however, caused some problems for Holt management. Apart from the gender problems regarding onboard facilities there was the expected reluctance from within a previously 100% male regime that had to be overcome.

As soon as she obtained her second class certificate in October 1924, Holt felt that the promise had been fulfilled and that he could no longer sustain the problems her presence afloat had created.

He duly terminated the employment of the first female engineer in the British merchant marine, let alone the company. She subsequently continued her sea-going career and indeed became the first female to receive the Lloyd’s War Medal for bravery at sea, during World War II.

13th November 2008, 20:24
highly recommended book on Victoria Drummond..........


13th November 2008, 20:41
If you put Victoria Drummond into the SN search engine you will find this very special lady has been covered in some detail on the site already.

13th November 2008, 21:34
Bummer, isn't it, to type all that and someone comes along and says " we already talked about that".

I'll say it again though, she must have been some tough!

13th November 2008, 21:52
I totally agree Jok but it is only right to point Bill in the direction of what other information maybe available to him on the site that may come in useful for his intended book.