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Library and Archives - Anniversary of the Death of Gertrude Entwisle
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November 19, 2013
Anniversary of the Death of Gertrude Entwisle

Gertrude Lilian Entwisle, AMIEE, Hon. MWES, died on 18 November 1961 at the age of 69. She joined the Women's Engineering Society (WES) in 1919 on its formation and played a major part in its history. Gertrude was a member of the Council of WES from the outset until her retirement and she was President of WES from 1941 to 1943.

When Gertrude retired from Metropolitan-Vickers on 30 June 1954, a biography of her career printed in The Woman Engineer said that her retirement was, "the very first retirement in Great Britain of a woman who had a complete career in industry as an employed professional design engineer". The biography also told the story of how Gertrude came to work for Metropolitan-Vickers as;

"In 1915, the exigencies of the first World War caused Mr J S Peck, the Chief Engineer of British Westinghouse (as Metropolitan-Vickers then was) to write to the College of Technology in Manchester enquiring whether it knew of any lady engineers. After all, his firm had just successfully tried the tremendous experiment of employing an office girl so why should it not try to find some female technical staff? The Chief Engineer was an American and woman engineers already existed in the USA. The letter was handed by the Technical College to the Manchester High School for Girls who forwarded it to Gertrude Entwisle. Now Miss Entwisle had shaken the University of Manchester staff by attending the engineering lectures which were open to second year Physics undergraduates and so she decided to risk the British Westinghouse."

To read the full six page biography in The Woman Engineer the journal can be consulted in the IET Archives once the new archive centre opens in early 2014. The IET Archives holds the archives of WES (collection NAEST 92) which includes its journal. The 1954 biography contains several pictures of Gertrude and of motors designed by Gertrude. There is also a fascinating picture of Gertrude in 1914 (see below) as a member of the second year Honours Physics class at Manchester University which also shows the lecturers including Professor Sir Ernest Rutherford.

Gertrude is also an important figure in the history of the IET. In 1916 she became the first woman student member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers and by 1920 she was the first woman Associate Member of the IEE.

Written by Jon Cable

Edited: 06 February 2014 at 01:20 PM by Library and Archives Moderator


    Posted By: Mike Dunne @ 19 November 2013 09:31 AM     Archives  

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