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Highworth names building after Verena Holmes

Yesterday, the day after her 135th birthday, Highworth Grammar School named its new building after Verena Holmes. It is the first Highworth building to be named in honour of a woman.

Verena Holmes was an engineer, inventor and ardent promoter for women in engineering. She joined the Women’s Engineering Society in its founding year and was the first president who was a professional engineer.

Verena was born on 23 June 1899 in Highworth, the building that is now known as Gower House, adjacent to the main entrance to Highworth School. A plaque was also unveiled on the building yesterday.

Read more about Verena on our Heritage portal, Ashford’s Heritage

As well as the Mayor of Ashford Borough Council, Cllr. Lyn Suddards, prominent women in engineering present for the event were:

  • Dawn Bonfield, past president of WES and founder of International Women in Engineering Day (on Verena Holmes’ Birthday)
  • Helen Close, Heritage Manager at WES, and
  • Anne Nortcliffe, Dean of Faculty of Arts, Computing and Engineering at Wrexham University and was Founding Head of School of Engineering, Technology and Design at Canterbury Christchurch University.

This event follows a collaboration between the Museum and Highworth Grammar School in 2022 when we produced a display celebrating Verena Holmes’ achievements and women engineers and students of engineering and promoting engineering as a career for women.

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