Pioneering Minds Podcast Series:
Charles Algernon Parsons
Charles Parsons (1854 - 1931) was a prominent engineer in the North East, best known for inventing the first practical steam turbine, which revolutionised marine transportation and the mass production of electricity.
Charles founded his world famous engineering works, C. A. Parsons & Company, in Heaton, Newcastle in 1889; this was established to produce turbo generators to his design. In the same year, he set up the Newcastle and District Electric Lighting Company (DisCo) and in 1890, DisCo opened Forth Banks Power Station, the first power station in the world to generate electricity using steam turbo generators.
Ruth Baldasera: Quality Engineer and Factory Historian
Ruth is a Quality Engineer at Siemens, situated at the former C A Parsons factory in Heaton, where she has worked for 10 years. Her day job includes departmental auditing, managing customer feedback, facilitating corrective and preventative actions for improvement, and managing over 700 controlled documents / specifications, for what is an extremely diverse business.
Ruth became interested in the history of Parsons, as her job involved research into how particular components were made many years ago, and replacing those parts using modern engineering methods, in line with current standards. The name ‘Parsons’ popped up frequently on the drawings and specifications she handled. This lead to Ruth's long term passion for the technology that Parsons engineered and how his genius changed the world.
Take a Closer Look...
Take a Closer Look...
After graduating from Cambridge University in 1877 with a distinguished degree in mathematics, Parsons carried out an apprenticeship at Armstrong Works at Elswick, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Despite having a degree, anybody who wanted to become an engineer at the time had to undergo an apprenticeship, as there was no qualification in engineering offered at university.
Episode 2: Introducing Lady Katherine Parsons
Episode 3: Introducing Rachel Parsons
In this podcast, Ruth provides an insight into the life of Rachel Parsons, the only daughter of Charles Parsons. Rachel was one of the first three women to study Mechanical Sciences at Cambridge, despite women being barred from getting degrees at the time. Ruth explores Rachel’s roles both during and after World War 1, an extremely important time for women in engineering.
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Here at The Common Room, we are passionate about linking the heritage stored within our collection to past and present engineering of the North East. Working with our industry partners and with thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we are able to bring to life the stories of influential engineers from the region, and encourage you to explore and be inspired by your heritage, from wherever you are in the world.