Sheila Leather 1898-1983

Sheila Leather was born in Birkenhead, Cheshire in on 17th January 1898. Her father John Walter Leather was an analytical chemist and her mother was Annie nee Lyon. Sheila had two sisters Alice Muriel born in 1889 and Wenonah Hardwick born in 1890. Her father was the head of the chemical department at the Imperial Agricultural Research Institute established in 1904 at Pusa in Bihar, India.

Leather was a boarder at Liverpool High School for Girls in 1911, (presumably her family were in Pusa as both sisters married there) and before the Second World War she was a Physical Training Lecturer at Hockerill Training College, Bishop Stortford, Hertfordshire. In 1921, aged 25, according to the 1921 census, she was residing in a boarding house in Glenmore Road, Minehead, and employed by Glamorgan County Council as a secondary school mistress.

She was one of the first women trainees on the courses held at the Beaufoy Institute, London run by WES, preparing women to go into engineering. She joined the Society in 1944 and soon after became involved with Verena Holmes’ business venture, Holmes and Leather, based in Gillingham, Kent. She became WES president in 1950-51. Throughout her time with WES she made many contributions to The Woman Engineer Journal.

In retirement she enjoyed worked as a volunteer guide in Lincoln Cathedral. She died at the Caenby Nursing Home in Lincolnshire on 27th January 1983 and her probate documents show that profits from her residuary estate should be left to The Community of The Sacred Passion, a Church of England community of nuns, who support good causes in Africa.