March 8th is International Women’s Day! What better way to celebrate it then to take a look at five famous women from the south-west who showcase the Saltrock values? Women from Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and the surrounding area are a feisty bunch, with many completing amazing achievements that have contributed enormously to areas as diverse as exploration, science, literature and sport. Read on to find out more about talented south-west women who have not only excelled in their field, but who have also done so in a way that makes them deserving of a place in our Saltrock top five.
Born in 1768, Amelia Griffiths is possibly one of the most famous phycologists (studier of seaweeds and algae) of all time. Hailing from Pitton, near Torquay, (and often referred to in writings of the time as Mrs Griffiths of Torquay), like Saltrock staff and many of our customers, Amelia was a keen beachcomber. It was this love of the coastline and its flora which led her to study the algaes and seaweeds which are found in abundance on the English Channel’s shoreline. She recognised and collected details of about 250 different species found on the coast.
Her algae collection was recognised as of scientific importance at the time: she was one of the first women to be officially recognised for her contribution to science, being made a full member of Torquay Natural History Society (later becoming Torquay museum). The museum is still operational today. If you wish to see Amelia’s stunning collections (including the Griffiths collection of marine plants), they are on display in the Devon Record Office throughout March. For a great family day out, why not follow in Mrs Griffiths’ footsteps and enjoy a day beach-combing at one of the many beaches along the south-west coast?
If rowing is one of your preferred outdoor sports, no doubt you will already have heard of Helen Glover. Born in Cornwall in June 1986, Helen was brought up in Penzance. Always a keen athlete, her determination and commitment to whatever sport she took part in meant that she began achieving highly at a relatively young age. She said, “When I was at school I was quite strong-minded. I started up sports teams, I played in the boys’ football team. I wouldn’t let anyone tell me I couldn’t do anything.” This “can-do” attitude stood her in good stead during her rowing career.
With a string of rowing victories behind her, by 2015 she was ranked as the number one female rower in the world, a title she still holds to the present day. In June 2016, Glover and her rowing partner, Heather Stanning, were: World Cup, World, European and Olympic record holders. Helen is also a World, Olympic, European and World Cup winner in her own right.
Mary Anning was born in 1799, a little further up the coast from us, in Lyme Regis, Dorset. Born into a poor family, her initial forays into fossil-hunting were made with the intention of selling the fossils found as curios. Lyme Regis was a popular seaside resort at the time, so there were plenty of tourists eager to purchase fossils. The fossils came from the cliffs around Lyme Regis, from the Blue Lias geological formation (Blue Lias consists of layers of limestone and shale which were laid down during the late Triassic and early Jurassic). Mary and her family found several famous fossils, including a 4-foot ichthyosaur skull (they later found the rest of the beast), a plesiosaurus and a suqaloraja fish. She was not only a talented fossil hunter, she was also able to accurately identify and classify the fossils that she found.
Her sex and religious affiliations (the family were non-conformists at a time when educational opportunities were closely tied to the Church of England) meant that her contribution to paleontology did not receive the recognition at the time which it deserved. It was Mary’s love of the beach and the treasures to be found on it which helped her not only make a living, but also further understanding about the animals roaming Dorset in the ancient past.
Winner of fifteen World Tennis Association (WTA) singles titles, this Devon-born woman was a talented tennis player who has now made a successful career as a sports presenter. Hailing from Paignton, Sue’s talent for tennis was notable from an early age: she was picked out for coaching from Arthur Roberts (a prestigious tennis coach) when she was just ten years old. Although Sue never won the Wimbledon Championships, she notched up a string of other tennis titles, including winning the French Open in 1976, aged just twenty! As a presenter she has covered a wide range of sporting events, including the Olympic Games, French Open, the Davis Cup and Wimbledon.
We’ve included Sue in our top five not just because of her outstanding tennis ability, but also because she enjoys the outdoor life in general and is a keen animal lover: she owns two dogs, Baiatu and Charlie. She found Baiatu in a Romanian dog shelter and adopted him!
Best known for her exceptional writing ability, Agatha Christie is a legend in the world of crime thrillers. Born in Torquay in 1890, Christie is responsible for the creation of the famous fictitious detective Hercule Poirot. The best selling author of all time, according to the Guinness Book of Records, Christie wrote classics such as: “And Then There Were None”;“The Mousetrap”; and “Unnatural Death”. Astonishingly, writing was not the only talent which Ms Christie possessed: she was also an incredibly gifted surfer!
A keen traveler, particularly in later life, Christie learned to surf on the impressive waves around Cape Town and in Honolulu. Research suggests that she was one of the first British people to surf standing up! Touring South Africa, Australia and New Zealand with her first husband, Archie Christie, who was tasked with promoting the British Empire Exhibition, Agatha had plenty of opportunity to perfect her surfing style. Apparently she first surfed standing up at the well-known Waikiki beach, in Hawaii!
We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about local women who have not only achieved great things, but who have also embraced more than a little of the Saltrock lifestyle!