Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame

Queensferry Crossing

The Queensferry Crossing, Scotland, under construction in 2016. Jacobs/Arup client engineers

Victoria Alexandrina Drummond (1894-1978), ship's engineer, pioneering woman engineering role model

Victoria Drummond

Born at Megginch Castle, Perthshire, to a Scottish aristocratic family and christened Victoria after her God Mother Queen Victoria. She was educated privately at home and in 1913 was taken to London and presented at court as a Debutante to King George V and Queen Mary.

With this background it will be appreciated that her choice of career was treated with amazement by her family.

She was the first woman to go to Sea as a Marine Engineer and first woman to become a Member of the Institute of Marine Engineers now the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology.

In 1916 she commenced a five year Engineering apprenticeship, two years at a Perth Garage and three years at the Engineering Department of the Caledon Shipbuilding Company in Dundee. She studied Engineering three evenings a week at the Dundee Technical College now Abertay University.

In 1922 as a fully qualified engineer she sailed as tenth engineer on a Blue Funnel Line ship on a voyage to Australia. Through the years she rose to Chief Engineer sailing worldwide. She also for a time stood by several ships in build and in today's terms could be called a Superintendent Engineer. Although she served with the Blue Funnel Line, British India, Cunard-White Star and Cunard most of her sea time was spent with foreign Shipping Lines due to discrimination from British Shipping Lines and the Board of Trade now the Marine and Coastguard Agency who steadfastly refused to certificate her. Undeterred she received her Chief Engineers certification abroad.

During WW11 her vessel was attacked by aircraft of the Luftwaffe. At the start of the attack she ordered everyone else out of the engine room and operated the machinery single handed and increased the ships speed by several knots thus allowing greater manoeuvrability of the ship to avoid the bombs. For this action she was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) the citation reading 'For devotion to duty' with the investiture by King George VI. She was also awarded Lloyds war medal for bravery at sea.

She eventually retired in 1962 after forty years at sea.

Victoria Drummond died in 1978 aged 84 and is buried where she was born, Megginch Castle, Perthshire, Scotland.

She opened doors for other women to follow and is still cited by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology together with various women's organisations as a role model to be followed.

The Victoria Drummond Award , set up by Nautilus (seafarers union) is presented to women whose achievements boost the profile of women at sea.

Victoria Drummond was shortlisted for the Wallace Monument "Hall of Heroines".

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