Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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Taylor, Florence Mary (1879 - 1969)

CBE, FRSA, ARAIA, LRIBA, AM, Inst. SE Lon, MSE (Civil)

Born
1879
Bristol, England
Died
13 February 1969
Occupation
Architect, Engineer and Publisher
Alternative Names
  • Parsons, Florence Mary (maiden name)

Summary

Florence Taylor was the first woman architect, structural engineer and civil engineer in Australia. For her contribution to architecture and civil engineering, Taylor was appointed an Officer of the British Empire on 8 June 1939 and later a Commander of the British Empire on 10 June 1961.

Details

Florence Taylor, the eldest of five daughters, of John and Eliza (née Brooks) Parsons imigrated to Australia with her family. She attended Presbyterian Ladies College (Sydney), and commenced clerical work at an architectural and engineering firm, after her father passed away suddenly.

Realising that draftsmen received a higher scale of pay, she decided to obtain the qualification and enrolled in evening classes at Sydney Technical College - the only female in the class. Between 1900 and 1902 she was apprenticed to the office of Sydney architect Edmund Garton, where she was allocated the less interesting menial tasks. In 1902 she transferred to the office of John Burcham Clamp where she remained until she completed her studies in 1907. In that year her employer Clamp nominated her for associate membership of the New South Wales Institute of Architects. Her membership was granted 13 years later in 1920.

On 3 April 1907, she married George Augustine Taylor, an architect-engineer, whose hobbies included aviation and gliding. Florence Taylor, who shared her husband's interests, became the first woman to attempt a glider flight in Australia, on 5 December 1909. She flew from the Narrabeen sand hills near Sydney, in a guilder built by her husband, to became the first woman to fly a heavier-than-air machine in Australia.

Upon marriage the Taylors established their own company, the Building Publishing Company, a producer of trade and professional journals. Also the Taylors were founding members of the Town Planning Association in New South Wales in 1913.

After her husband's death in 1928, Florence Taylor continued to manage the company until she retired due to ill health in 1961, although she scaled down the company publishing list. Throughout her life Taylor continued to produce town planning schemes.

Sources used to compile this entry: Victorian Women's Roll of Honour: Women Shaping the Nation, 1 edn, Centurary of Federation Victoria, 2001, http://www.women.vic.gov.au/CA25666E00000B30/Images/CoFHR/$File/CoFHR.pdf; Legge, J S (ed.), Who's who in Australia 1968, The Herald and Weekly Times, Melbourne, 1968, 956 pp; Ludlow, Christa, 'Taylor, Florence Mary (1879-1969)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A120195b.htm; Radi, Heather (ed.), 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Women's Redress Press, Sydney, 1988, 258 pp. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-78644; http://www.iwri.unisa.edu.au/recenthighlights.htm accessed 2002-07-02.

Archival resources

Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales

  • Florence M. Taylor - illuminated address presented to Florence M. Taylor by the Australian American Co-operation Movement, 1946, 1946, MLMSS 1853 ADD-ON 2036; Taylor, Florence Mary (1879 - 1969); Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details
  • Kerwin Maegraith - recording of readings from his autobiography 'Little moments with big people', n.d., together with readings from his biography of architect Florence Mary Taylor, ca.1969, 1969, MLOH 37; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details
  • Lorelei Booker Papers; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details
  • Taylor family photographs, 1884 - 1968, PXE 694/200-223; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details

Anne Heywood

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/IMP0064b.htm

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