Beryl Platt, Baroness Platt of Writtle

Engineer

Image from her obituary in the Telegraph, from her time at Hawker Aircraft, 1943-5. (Source: independent.co.uk)

  • BORN 18th April 1923, Leigh-on Sea, Essex
  • DIED 1st February 2015, Hertfordshire
  • WORKED She worked for Hawker Aircraft during World War Two, and then moved to British European Airways, where she remained until her marriage in 1949. After that, she lived in Writtle, Essex and pursued an outstanding political career, first in local government in Essex, then nationally in the House of Lords.
  • HONOURS Her many honours include:
    • 1978 CBE
    • 1988 Freedom of the City of London
    • 1994-2001 Chancellor of Middlesex University

Artistic Connections

Nothing recorded

Education

Although her school education was disrupted by the War, she was an excellent student who was accepted to read maths at Cambridge, and then switched to engineering so that she could benefit from a wartime bursary. She was one of only five women in a class of 250, and the course was condensed into two years because of the War.

Occupations

Aeronautical engineer
She worked on fighter planes at Hawker Aircraft immediately after graduating, but left after the War to develop air safety measures for British European Airways

Local politician
After she married and moved to a small Essex village, she turned to local politics and was particularly involved in improving education

Campaigner for Equality
As a life peer, she chaired the Equal Opportunities Commission and was the first chair of WISE, the national initiative to promote Women in Science and Engineering

2nd row, third from right, at Hawker Aircraft. From Telegraph obituary

Scientific Achievement

For a woman to become an aeronautical engineer in the 1940s was in itself a huge achievement, but her major significance lay in promoting female education and career opportunities in science

Did You Know?

‘WISE is the Word’ she said, when refusing to have a scholarship named after her personally.

She was happily married for 54 years, but when she first met her husband as a school girl he condemned her as a swot

She emphasised to young women that they should never ever learn to type, because if they did they would be relegated to secretarial duties

Speaking in the house of Lords
(Wikipedia entry)

An Inspiring Woman

She was an outstanding role model who encouraged young women into science where they could have ‘such fun’. She was important not because of her scientific innovations, but because of her courage, determination and dedication to supporting younger women

Links