LGBTQ at Brooklands: Janet Gulland

12 February 2021

Join us over the next few weeks as we explore and celebrate the LGBTQ+ stories of Brooklands for LGBT History Month. This week we’re looking at Janet Gulland FRAeS, who was the first female graduate apprentice at Vickers Armstrongs and a staunch supporter of women in engineering.

Janet Gulland was a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and Director of Market Research at BAe Weybridge. Gulland took some of her first steps on this path when she won a Fulbright Scholarship as a research assistant in engineering at the Brown University, Rhode Island, USA in April 1956 while at Oxford University and was awarded a certificate in Research Assistantship for 1956-1957, working in the Wind Tunnel Department. Then, between 1958 and 1960, she was taken on as a graduate apprentice at Vickers- Armstrongs (Supermarine) at South Marston, Wisley Airfield and Weybridge.

On completing her apprenticeship, Janet took up a position in Vickers-Armstrongs’ Aerodynamics Department, her work involving wind tunnel studies on VC10 and VC11 rear mounted engines. The following four years were spent as an Operational Researcher at British Aircraft Corporation’s (BAC) TSR-2 Office at Weybridge, monitoring the performance of the TSR- 2 and providing technical support and marketing intelligence to the sales team. In February 1968, she was elected an Associate Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Janet’s career continued to be varied and accomplished and by 1976 she had progressed to the position of Research Engineer in the Group Research Department at BAC headquarters at Weybridge. She became part of a team coordinating and monitoring research work throughout the newly formed British Aerospace (BAe) company following nationalisation. Between 1979 and 1982, she took on new responsibilities in the Corporate Planning Department for overall market research and forecasts and was involved in the provision of management services to the board.

The next 10 years saw the height of Janet’s career in the industry. She worked in management in market intelligence and planning in the Aircraft Group Marketing Department at Kingston, where she led a team of six military aircraft market analysts and coordinated market research on military derivatives of commercial aircraft. In 1994, Janet was proposed for Fellowship of the Royal Aeronautical Society by Sir George Edwards, supported by Sir Peter Masefield and was elected a Fellow in October the same year. Retirement did not end her enthusiasm for the industry or for keeping in touch with her former colleagues. She also continued as a committed supporter of Brooklands Museum through its Friends organisation, as she had since the founding of the Museum Trust in 1987.

She promoted women in aviation throughout her career and kept a collection of articles documenting any progress made in encouraging women into engineering, which includes newspaper articles, women in engineering seminar brochures, a 1980s pamphlet on the subject and even a brochure on a film about women in engineering called What’s a girl like you…?

Outside of work, Gulland won multiple British Moth Boat championships and Scottish-danced well into her eighties. Janet was with her partner Sue for 50 years, who kindly donated her collection to Brooklands Museum.