Magnificent Women and their Revolutionary Machines

By Henrietta Heald

The true story of Britain’s early women engineers

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Magnificent Women campaign launch

Handmaidens of Death, a ten-minute film by Tracy Gillman


This is my first blog post for Magnificent Women, so I'd like to start by saying a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has made a pledge to the recently launched crowdfunding campaign – and to anyone who feels inclined to do so in the future.

Crowdfunding is much more absorbing and fun than I had imagined. It has given me an excuse to get in touch with people I haven't seen for ages, as well as close friends, to exchange news and rekindle old memories, and to make new acquaintances. In some ways, embarking on a crowdfunding campaign is like setting up a club – bringing together a disparate group of people who may or may not know each other, but who have a common interest and ambition. Along the way, there may be a fertile exchange of ideas. So, welcome to the club, and please share any information and opinions that you consider relevant to Magnificent Women.

In this case, the goal is to achieve the publication of an important and timely book. It is important because most of the women whose stories are covered here have disappeared from the historical record – even though, through their brilliant brains and the work of their hands, their feminist fortitude and their campaigning spirits, some of them made a real difference to the lives of the women, and men, who came after them. They will be brought back to life and celebrated as inspirational role models for the young women of today.

The book is timely because it coincides with the centenary of the First World War, when hundreds of thousands of women from all walks of life entered the workplace for the first time and experienced the heady excitement of personal freedom and economic independence, sowing the seeds of a social revolution.  

Many books and articles, films, online videos, and TV and radio programmes have been produced to mark the war centenary, but few relate specifically to women. One powerful exception is Handmaidens of Death (above)a short film by Tracy Gillman about munition workers on Tyneside, based on archive footage and factual accounts.

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Dawn Bonfield
 Dawn Bonfield says:

What an amazing film! I am really enjoying finding out more about the work of these magnificent women!

posted 8th March 2017

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