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Celebrating Invisible Women – July

Margaret Durbridge OBE

Margaret Durbridge OBE (1911-1999)

Margaret Durbridge was born in 1911 in London. Her father was an eminent immunologist in St Mary’s hospital, where she was born. Margaret had an early interest in science and as a young woman she helped her father in his laboratory, and was in the elite science group at her girls’ school.  She practised briefly as a commercial artist but like many women of the time Margaret’s career was cut short when she married.

Margaret wanted to contribute to her community. Domestic life on its own frustrated her as it has many women before her and since, and over the years she involved herself extensively in her community in many ways. She believed in the importance of education and she was a strong believer that the environment young people lived in helped them become happy and useful adults. She also began to engage with and develop a technical understanding of infrastructure issues.

When she moved with her growing family to Mill House in Newport Pagnell in 1939 her love of the river as a place for leisure expanded to encompass the river as a resource that needed managing to control the regular flooding which disrupted new developments like the M1 motorway and improve sewerage for the local population.

At that time the region’s main occupation was farming, apart from that there was the Wolverton Works. In 1967 she was elected a county councillor and was heavily involved with school education in North Bucks.

Margaret was the only woman invited to join the strategic Planning Board of the Milton Keynes Development Corporation for the new city in 1966 – who championed the concept of the ‘Redways’. I have read that In her own opinion she was ‘manoeuvred’ onto the board for Milton Keynes Development Corporation, they needed someone local and female; I am sure many of us can relate to this in various ways.

She also sat on the Transport group, chairing the social Policy committee. She was a governor at several schools and was invited to become a member of the Open University Council. She was awarded an OBE in 1977.

All this whilst raising four children and supporting her husband!

A trailblazer for women and a champion for Milton Keynes, Margaret we salute you.

Click here for a more detailed biography of her shown on the Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre website.