“Piloting Turbinia during the Royal Naval Review at Spithead was almost too exciting. She was 10 knots fasters than any other craft.” Christopher Leyland

The Parsonstown website: investigating a forgotten history

A stone carving of a ‘wise man’ in the grounds of Birr Castle, the family’s ancestral home
A stone carving of a ‘wise man’ in the grounds of Birr Castle, Co. Offaly, the family's ancestral home.

The Parsonstown website has been created to investigate the forgotten history of the Parsons family – which dates back to Tudor times – and introduce some fascinating individuals and their extraordinary achievements to a wider world. Like many others who have made great strides in the fields of science and engineering, they have been largely forgotten, except by a few aficionados, but their legacy is all around us, and younger generations of the family, including women, continue to make their mark.

Charles Parsons’s entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography gives an indication of the rich store of information that is waiting to be explored. Here is an extract: ‘Parsons is considered to be the most original engineer whom this country has produced since the days of James Watt. He lived to see the fruits of his labours in the complete transformation of the method of producing power from steam, on both land and sea.’

The year 2014 is the 130th anniversary of the invention of the steam turbine. It is also the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, in which the inventions of Charles Parsons played such a vital role. Rachel Parsons and her mother, Katharine, championed the cause of women engineers during the war and continued to fight for women’s employment rights when it was over. Events to commemorate these historical milestones will form an important strand in the Parsonstown website.

If you have any information to contribute, please use the contact form to get in touch.