“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Portsmouth in Hampshire County, England, United Kingdom

Hertha Ayrton

Hertha Ayrton Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael Herrick, July 30, 2018
1. Hertha Ayrton Marker
Hertha Ayrton was born Phoebe Sarah Marks in Queen Street, Portsea, on 28 April 1854. She was the third child of a Polish Jewish watchmaker named Levi Marks, an immigrant from Tsarist Poland, and Alice Teresa Moss, a seamstress. Her father died in 1861, leaving Sarah's mother with seven children and an eighth expected. At the age of nine she went to live with an aunt in London and was educated with her cousins. She adopted the name Hertha' as a teenager.

Ayrton attended Girton College, Cambridge, where she studied mathematics. During her time at Cambridge Ayrton constructed a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure gauge), led the choral society, founded the Girton fire brigade and, together with Charlotte Scott, formed a mathematical club. In 1880, Ayrton passed the Mathematical Tripos, but Cambridge did not grant her an academic degree because, at the time, the college only gave certificates and did not grant full degrees to women. Ayrton passed an external examination at the University of London, which awarded her a Bachelor of Science degree in 1881.

After graduating Ayrton earned money from teaching and embroidery, ran a club for working girls, and cared for her invalid sister. From 1884 until her death, Ayrton was a prolific inventor and registered 26 patents: five on mathematical dividers, 13 on arc lamps
Hertha Ayrton Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael Herrick, July 30, 2018
2. Hertha Ayrton Marker
and electrodes, and the rest on the propulsion of air.

In 1885 Hertha married William Edward Ayrton, a physicist and electrical engineer who supported her work William Ayrton once said to her cousin, Dr. Philip Hartog: "you and I are able people, but Hertha is a genius."

She was always keen to promote the idea of women's fitness to vote through her own achievements in a male-dominated field, and she was never shy of making herself prominent in the political arena. She took part in marches and demonstrations and opened her home to women released from jail after being on hunger strike.

In 1899, Ayrton was the first woman ever to read her own paper before the Institution of Electrical Engineers(EE). Shortly thereafter, she was elected the member of the IEE; the next woman to be admitted to the IEE was in 1958. At the International Congress of Women held in London in 1899, she presided over the al science section. In 1902, Ayrton published The Electric Arc, a summary of her research. In 1902 she became the first woman nominated a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, although this was turned down, after the Society decreed that married women were not eligible as Fellows.

However, in 1906 Ayrton became the first woman to win a prize from the Royal Society, the Hughes Medal, awarded to her in honour of her research on the motion of ripples in sand and water, and her work on the electric arc. The Hughes Medal was not awarded to another female scientist until 2008.

Hertha Ayrton died on 26 August 1923 at New College, North Lancing. West Sussex, from blood poisoning. She was 69. She is regarded as one of the foremost female scientists in history. In 2010 a panel of female Fellows of the Royal Society and science historians selected her as one of the 10 most influential women in the history of science. She is commemorated by the Hertha Ayrton Research Fellowship at Girton College; a blue plaque outside her former home at 41 Norfolk Square in London; and the Ayrton prize for web projects and digital engagement in the history of science.

The Millennium Promenade stretches from Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to Southsea Castle. It is marked out by a chain link in the ground or by columns topped with the Millennium motif. Follow the trail to discover the hidden history of the city's waterfront and enjoy the ever changing views of the Solent.
For further information a leaflet is downloadable from or available on request from Visitor Information Centres.
Location. 50° 47.886′ N, 1° 6.406′ W. Marker is in Portsmouth, England, in Hampshire County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Main Road (England Route B2154) and Clock Street, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Portsmouth, England PO1 3PA, United Kingdom.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Ship Anson (within shouting distance of this marker); Mudlarks (within shouting distance of this marker); The Hard (within shouting distance of this marker); Captain Robert Falcon Scott (about 120 meters away, measured in a direct line); The Jutland Gun (about 120 meters away); Beware of the Wolf (about 120 meters away); The Figurehead (about 120 meters away); The First Black Battleship (about 120 meters away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Portsmouth.
Also see . . .  Hertha Ayrton Way on Wikipedia. (Submitted on September 10, 2018, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
Categories. Science & MedicineWomen
Credits. This page was last revised on September 10, 2018. This page originally submitted on September 10, 2018, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 37 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 10, 2018, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.
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