Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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C. Griff

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Miss C. Griff (either Cleone Griff or Clayton Griff), a pseudonym used by Cleone de Heveningham Benest

1915 Cleone Benest, under the name of Miss C. Griff, set up business as a consultant engineer, offering expert advice on automobile, electrical, and mechanical engineering, despite having little engineering background. Her garage workshop for lady motorists, behind 48 Dover Street, Mayfair, did mechanical repairs, and gave courses in motor mechanics and factory practice for women supervisors in munitions factories. Her friend, the Hon. Gabrielle Borthwick, had a similar establishment nearby.

1915 Advertisement. 'Motor Mechanism Course. (Elementary and Advanced). Miss C. Griff, Consulting Engineer, Expert advice on Electrical, Mechanical and Automobile Engineering. 48. DOVER ST., PICCADILLY. W. Telephone— Gerrard 184.[1]

She contributed an article on ‘Engineering’ to the Englishwoman’s Year Book for 1915, in which she observed that "owing to the ever increasing use of machinery in this the twentieth century, there is an equally growing need and place in the professions for the woman engineer".

1920 Griff’s increasing engineering and metallurgical expertise led to her election to the Birmingham Metallurgical Society

1920 Griff joined the Women's Engineering Society

1921 As Cleone de Heveningham B. Griff she was elected to the Iron and Steel Institute and the Cast Iron Research Association, each of which published her research articles.

1922 she established the Stainless and Non-Corrosive Metals Co Limited, at 14 Weaman Street, Birmingham, assisted by former foundry manager, Miss C. Davis. Other directors were the Hon. Gabrielle Borthwick and Lady Gertrude Crawford. The company made small, cast ornamental items, railway fittings, lamp reflectors, and tin openers, using Griff’s own stainless steel colouring method. This enterprise, managed by and employing women, attracted worldwide press coverage, but was not a financial success and was wound up in 1925.

1922 Became chair of the WES Committee. She also used this description when speaking at a conference in 1924[2]. She was active in the society until 1928, organizing the Birmingham branch from her home in the Four Oaks suburb of Birmingham.

1923-7 She regularly wrote for the Woman Engineer on motoring and aviation.

1924 She gave a paper on stainless steel at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition Conference of Engineering Societies.

1926 Read a paper on stainless steel at the 4th annual meetings of the Women's Engineering Society

1926-7 She broadcast six "Afternoon topics" talks for housewives on the BBC, covering various aspects of engineering and the use of electricity in the home.

1928 Left the WES without explanation and seems not to have used the name Griff again. Her sudden departure may have been to allow her to go back to Ryde to look after her widowed mother, who died in 1930 leaving almost no money.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Common Cause - Friday 10 September 1915
  2. The Engineer 1924/09/19
  • Biography of Cleone de Heveningham Benest, ODNB