Victoria Alexandrina Drummond: Britain’s first female Marine Engineer

A career not suitable for a lady

Victoria Alexandrina Drummond was born in 1894 at Megginch Castle near Errol. Victoria showed her interest in mechanics from an early age but didn’t start her career until 1922, where she sailed as 10th engineer on board SS Anchises. Due to her gender, Victoria never managed to gain her British Chief Engineers, despite making 37 attempts. However, she was successful in gaining a Panamanian Chief Engineers Certificate.

During the mid-1940’s Victoria was part of the SS Bonita at Southampton. It was that time when Victoria was acknowledged and took charge of the engine room and kept herself the engines running after an attack by enemy bombers. When arriving at Virginia, she was given a hero’s welcome. Victoria was awarded an MBE for her devotion to duty and a Lloyds medal for bravery at sea.

She kept on sailing in various vessels and she sailed amongst many convoys during the rest of the war. After the war ended she sailed as Second Engineer until 1959 when she finally became Chief Engineer. She remained a Chief Engineer until she retired in 1962.

Victoria died in 1978 and was buried at her birth place. She will always be remembered as Britain’s first female Marine Engineer, first female Chief Engineer, and first female member of the Institute of Marine Engineers. She stood up to all adversity and opened the door for all the women that followed in her footsteps. Victoria is a key part of the Dundee Museum of Transport’s Caledon Shipyard display. She is also part of Dundee women’s trail and a plaque is devoted to her, located at Bell Street.

 

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