Australia's First Female Engineer Gives Name to TBM

The construction site for the new North West Rail Link in Sydney has received the second tunnel boring machine for the project. The machine has been named Florence after Florence Mary Taylor, who was the first female engineer and architect in Australia.
Florence arrived at in pieces at the construction site in Bella Vista. Specifically, there were 27 individual large pieces and 18 shipping containers filled with smaller parts. One of the large pieces was the cutter head, which had to be transported with a police escort overnight. A crew roughly 70 strong are now assembling the new machine.
Florence Mary Taylor,It is expected that Florence will be able to begin digging before the year draws to a close. Overall, she will be one of four machines used for the project, which will result in the longest railway tunnels in Australia. More than 90 metres of the first tunnel have already been dug. Florence, along with the first machine, will be used to dig twin tunnels which will stretch for 5.6 miles (9 kilometres) before reaching their destination in Cherrybrook. The second two machines will then be used to dig an additional 3.7 miles (6km) from Cherrybrook to Epping.
Florence Mary Taylor was born in 1879 in Bedminster, Somerset, England. She later moved to Australia with her family while still a child of 4. Following the death of her parents in the final years of the nineteenth century she took clerical work in an architectural practice, but was interested by the work of the draughtsmen who earned far more than her. In 1904, she graduated from Sydney Technical College where she completed a draughtsman’s course and became the first woman to complete final year architecture studies. She became the first female architect, civil engineer and structural engineer as well as being a qualified town planner. In 1909, she also became the first woman in Australia to pilot a heavier-than-air aircraft. However, today she is possibly bust-known as a publisher, writer and editor of trade journals for the building industry, at first with her husband George and then alone following his death in 1928. She died in 1969 at the age of 89.
Gladys Berejiklian, Minister for Transport, welcomed both the decision to name the new TBM after Taylor and the progress being made on construction of the tunnel. With an operations contract worth AU$3.7 billion in place and physical progress on-site surging forward, the project is well on its way to meeting its schedule.
Speaking of the decision to name the TBM after Florence Taylor, Berejiklian was positive and praised the many achievements that Taylor made during her lifetime. Berejiklian also pointed out that Taylor “even proposed the idea of a tunnel under Sydney Harbour – something this Government plans to duplicate if we receive a mandate next March, this time for the city’s new rapid transit railway network.”
The four machines have all been designed specifically to cope with Sydney’s unique geology, which is mostly made up of shale and sandstone. It is hoped that progress on the project will be able to build up to a rate of 120 metres of tunnel per week.
Matthew Scott