Queer Places:
3 Willow Pl, Westminster, London SW1P 1JH, UK
St Chad, Kirby, Old Hall Ln, Liverpool L32 5TH

Lady Gertrude Eleanor Crawford (née Molyneux) (1 July 1868 - 5 November 1937) was a British munitions worker and from April to May 1918 the first Chief Superintendent of the Women’s Royal Air Force – otherwise known as "the penguins". She was also one of the directors of The Stainless Steel and Non-Corrosive Metals Company Limited, formed by Cleone Benest.[1]

She was the eldest daughter and second child of William Molyneux (1835–1897), 4th Earl of Sefton and Cecil Emily Jolliffe (1838–1899), the fifth daughter of William Jolliffe, 1st Baron Hylton. Lady Gertrude Eleanor Molyneux was referred to as GEM by her close friends and family.

In 1901 Lady Gertrude was living in 3 Willow Place, Knightsbridge with 6 servants. Her brother Richard Frederick Molyneux (1873–1954) was a Lieutenant in the Royal Horse Guards, living in Hyde Park Barracks.

On 25 April 1905, at St Chad, Kirkby, Lancashire, she married Captain John Halket Crawford (September 28, 1868 - September 23, 1936), son of John Thompson Crawford and Anna Maria Jessie. John Halket rose to be a Major in the 32nd Lancers, Indian Army.

Gertrude practised ornamental turning, like her father and grandfather. Ivory was turned at Croxteth Hall on a lathe. Gertrude continued this hobby after she was married to Captain John Halkett Crawford and she was awarded prizes at the Worshipful Company of Turners. On 26 April 1905 she was admitted to the freedom of the Turners' Company[2] and in 1909 she built a goathouse for Lady Arthur Cecil[3]. The History of Science Museum in Oxford hold a collection of turned ivory and other objects made by Lady Crawford.[5] The Worshipful Company of Turners offer an annual prize in her name Lady Gertrude Crawford competition, one of three prizes "in honour of three great exponents and patrons of ornamental turning" [6]

From 1914 onwards she worked at a munitions factory at Erith[4] .In 1918 Gertrude became the 1st Chief Commandant for the (WRAF). This organisation aimed to provide female mechanics to free up men, who were needed to fight on the front. Large numbers of women enrolled for various occupations, such as drivers and mechanics. Gertrude would have worked on a base in Britain. In May 1918 Violet Douglas-Pennant became the second Commandant for the WRAF. The WRAF was disbanded in 1920.

Lady Crawford died on 5 September 1937 in Lymington, Hampshire.[7] [8] She was pre-deceased her husband John Halket Crawford, who died just less than a year earlier on 23 September 1936.[7] At the time of John Halket's death they were living at 56 Rue Thiers, Dieppe, France.

Gertrude is buried in the plot reserved for the Earls of Sefton and their families in St. Chad’s Church, Kirkby.


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