I rarely remember my dreams. Sometimes they’re awful, sometimes they’re not but generally they are forgotten the moment I wake.
As usual, I have no idea what last night’s dream was about but what I do remember, quite distinctly, is my alarm going off. And I duly woke up. Except it was 2:30am and I was only dreaming my alarm had gone off.
This was very annoying.
When it went off for real, I checked the time before waking fully, just to make sure it wasn’t another dream. Sadly, it wasn’t.
And so to work.
Today I unravelled the annoying Ravenhill family. They were part of the 19th century Thames world of marine steam engines. The trouble is that their company went through quite a few name changes as partners left and joined necessitating each new partner to have his name included.
It all started with a couple of chaps called Barnes and Miller. They set up shop in 1822 but I don’t want to talk about them.
After a fair bit of digging I discovered that John Ravenhill (1824-1894) was the father of an amazing woman called Alice (1859–1954).
John was a typical Victorian male, I’m afraid. He didn’t think that women could actually do anything other than keep house and have kids. This didn’t stop Alice who knew she was made for better things than her father thought her capable.
Oddly enough it was her father’s fault that she developed an interest in geology. Not allowing her to study nursing or cooking as she wanted, he took her on holiday to Weymouth. She fell in love with the local rocks (I completely understand that).
She then taught herself biology and physiology by cutting up creatures in her bedroom.
When her father went bust, she was more less free to do whatever she wanted. And what she wanted was to work in sanitation. Or, rather the improvement of sanitation. Which she did. She was well known for her lectures and common sense approach to health and hygiene. Then she found out about the American concept of Home Economics. She wanted it for Britain.
While she was working, other women were doing their bit for the suffragette movement including her sister Margaret. Alice wasn’t one for platforms and continued her fight on the ground.
Then everything changed when she moved to Canada. She didn’t want to but her younger sister Edith convinced her to go with the rest of the family. She always intended to return but the first world war prevented it when she could afford it and then she never had enough money for the fare.
Her work in British Columbia saw her produce text books on native design concepts and the establishment of the Society for Native Columbian Indian Arts and Crafts in 1940.
She died in Victoria in 1954. An amazing woman.
Another amazing woman who I’ve made no secret of holding in the highest regard (and having a bit of a crush on), is Ada Lovelace. Today I saw a lock of her hair.
It’s part of a new display at the Science Museum. I wonder if they could clone a new one…