Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Margaret Moir

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Dame Margaret Bruce Moir, OBE (1864-1942)

1864 Born Margaret Bruce Pennycook at Pamhead, Gorgie, Edinburgh, the daughter of John Pennycook, quarry manager, and his wife, Margaret, née Davidson.

1887 Married Ernest William Moir, civil engineer, at Dalmeny. She became directly involved in all her husband’s works, calling herself "an engineer by marriage".

She often went down into the caissons used to build the Forth Bridge with her husband; she described how water and liquid mud were kept out from the chambers by air that was continuously pumped from above.

When the Blackwall Tunnel was completed, Margaret Moir became the first woman to walk through it. Heedless of danger, she then had to scramble up a 70 ft ladder and come out of the airlock on the Poplar side.

1901 Ernest W Moir 38, civil engineer, lived in Hampstead with Margaret Moir 36, Reginald Moir 8, Arrol Moir 6, and his sister Janet S Moir 27[1]

c.1902 Soon after the Boxer Rebellion (1899–1901), the Moirs travelled through the interior of China to oversee the construction of a railway, even though Margaret had been refused a permit because of the presumed danger to a Western woman of undertaking such a journey.

1911 Ernest William Moir 48, civil engineer, lived in Midhurst with Margaret Bruce Moir 47; they had had 3 children of whom one had died[2]

WWI Trained as a lathe operator to help with shell production and was employed for more than 18 months. She organized a scheme to provide weekend respite for full-time workers; she and other women took the places of the full-timers; the scheme was launched at the Vickers factories at Erith[3].

1916 Her husband was created a baronet; Lady Moir became treasurer and secretary of the Women’s Advisory Committee of the National War Savings Committee.

Worked with Katharine, Lady Parsons and her daughter Rachel. The three of them agreed that women’s talents and abilities must be put to good use in industry during the war and that special training courses were needed to give female workers the necessary skills.

1919 Founder director of the Women's Engineering Society[4]

1920 She was made an OBE for her wartime work.

She became an early member of the Electrical Association for Women.

1928-30 President of the Women's Engineering Society

1931-5 President of the Electrical Association for Women

1942 Dame Margaret Bruce Moir died in London[5]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1901 census
  2. 1911 census
  3. The Times, 3 Aug 1915
  4. Companies House record
  5. National probate calendar
  • Biography of Margaret Moir, ODNB