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Blue plaque honours woman who helped design the Tyne Bridge

A new commemorative plaque has been unveiled on the Tyne Bridge, in honour of Dorothy Buchanan, who was a member of the design team for the bridge which opened in 1928.

19 March 2024

Pioneers of change

Buchanan was also the first woman member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and has been honoured as part of a partnership between Newcastle University and the Common Room as part as part of the charity’s wider mission to raise the profile of underrepresented pioneers of change across the region. 

The Worshipful Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor Eileen McMaster unveiled the plaque on the Southwest tower of the Tyne Bridge. Dorothy was nominated for a plaque by The Common Room as a part of their Inspiring Pioneers project, which celebrates women of the region who inspired great change. Susan Mary Auld, a naval architect; Jennie Shearan, an environmental campaigner; Hope Winch, Pharmacist & Academic and Rachel & Katherine Parsons, Engineers, have been celebrated previously.

Inspiring Pioneers began as a project, supported by Newcastle University’s Centre for Heritage,  to install five commemorative plaques across the five Tyne & Wear local authorities in recognition of the fact that there are many under represented groups when it comes to who we commemorate in our cities,  women in STEM being one. Dorothy’s is the final plaque to be installed.




A blue plaque on the Tyne Bridge commemorates the work of Dorothy Buchanan

An Inspiration

Dr  Loes Veldpaus, Senior Lecturer in the School of  Architecture, Planning and Landscape said: "It has been great to work with The Common Room on this project funded by the University, celebrating five amazing women and the beginning, we hope, of telling a more diverse history of the region through commemorative plaques.”   

Councillor Eileen McMaster, Mayor of Gateshead, said: “We are very proud to see such a pioneering woman honoured in Gateshead.

“The whole community feels such a strong connection to the Tyne Bridge, and its role as a symbol of our region, but many people will not be familiar with the story of Dorothy Buchanan and her achievements. It’s fantastic that she is now recognised for her contribution all these years later.”

Kate Lloyd, Regional Director, Institution of Civil Engineers, said: “The ICE Northeast is delighted to see Dorothy Buchanan’s legacy commemorated on the Tyne Bridge. We hope that Dorothy’s story inspires women to embark upon a career as a chartered civil engineer and encourage women already in the industry to continue pursuing excellence by applying for Fellowship. A diverse and representative industry is imperative for the continued improvement of the built environment.”

Lauren Dunbar, Programme & Engagement Manager at The Common Room said, “Dorothy Buchanan was a true trailblazer in her field. As the first female member of the ICE, she was not only an inspiration for Civil Engineering but an important voice in the wider call for change in women’s right to work. Sharing her achievements as part of The Common Room’s Inspiring Pioneers project, in partnership with Newcastle University, has been an honour. By bringing stories of women to the fore of regional history, we have been able to open the conversation around representation of women in STEM roles. We hope to continue enabling young people to engage with these pioneers of the past.”

Press release adapted with thanks to The Common Room