Market Weighton ceremony honours aeronautics pioneer Hilda M Lyon

The Lord Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire, the Hon Dame Susan Cunliffe-Lister (front left) with the Mayor of Pocklington, Coun Peter Hemmerman, and Hilda Lyon family members.
The Lord Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire, the Hon Dame Susan Cunliffe-Lister (front left) with the Mayor of Pocklington, Coun Peter Hemmerman, and Hilda Lyon family members.

Family members from Australia and the USA visited Market Weighton to pay tribute to a remarkable woman who helped design airships and changed the shape of the US Navy’s submarine fleet.

They were there for the unveiling of a Blue Plaque to commemorate Hilda Margaret Lyon MA, MSc, AFRAeS, a shopkeeper’s daughter who became a pioneer in aerodynamics.

Tony Leonard, of Market Weighton Civic Society, gets a hand from Mayor Coun Peter Hemmerman to mount the Blue Plaque on McColl's supermarket.

Tony Leonard, of Market Weighton Civic Society, gets a hand from Mayor Coun Peter Hemmerman to mount the Blue Plaque on McColl's supermarket.

A gifted mathematician and engineer, Hilda helped design the ill-fated R101 airship, a rival to the Howden-built R100.

She continued to pioneer research into aerodynamics and developed the “Lyon Shape”, which is still used in aviation and submarines to this day.

The Blue Plaque was unveiled at Market Weighton Town Hall by the Lord Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire, the Hon Dame Susan Cunliffe-Lister, DCVO.

It was then mounted on the wall of McColl’s supermarket, the shop once run by Hilda’s father, Thomas Green Lyon.

Hilda Margaret Lyon. Picture courtesy of the Edith Greenwood archives.

Hilda Margaret Lyon. Picture courtesy of the Edith Greenwood archives.

Family member Valerie Lyon, a retired engineer herself, travelled from Perth, Australia, for the event.

She said she had been researching the Lyon family tree but knew nothing about her renowned relative until, by coincidence, a friend in Market Weighton sent her a copy of a Pocklington Post article seeking living relatives of Hilda.

She thanked Market Weighton Civic Society for organising the Blue Plaque and paid tribute to engineering historian Dr Nina Baker, who runs the Women in Engineering History Blog and was a prime mover in the campaign to have Hilda recognised.

Valerie was joined by family from the USA and from nearer to home, including Wendy Smith, a second cousin of Hilda.

Market Weighton Civic Society is currently semi-dormant, being run by a caretaker committee from the Yorkshire and Humber Association of Civic Societies (YHACS).

The Chairman of YHACS and Acting Chairman of Market Weighton Civic Society, Kevin Trickett, said: “I hope that this project will help to inspire local people who want to see an active civic society in the town to come forward to offer their help with running the Society in the future.

“So I say to the people of Market Weighton, if you care about the town, make yourselves known and get involved.”

Anyone who is interested in joining Market Weighton Civic Society can email info@yhacs.org.uk for more details.