Search icon

Charles Parsons the Person

Sir Charles Algernon Parsons, O.M. ( 1854 - 1931 ) was an Anglo-Irish engineer, best known for his invention of the steam turbine.

He was born in London on 13th June, 1854. He was the youngest son of the famous astronomer Lord Rosse who lived in Birr castle, Co. Offaly. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and St. John's College, Cambridge. He worked as an engineer on dynamo and turbine design, and power generation and he also developed optical equipment for searchlights and telescopes.

He founded the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company in Newcastle Upon Tyne and became famous when in June 1897 his turbine-powered yacht, Turbinia, was sailed at speed through the Diamond Jubilee Royal Navy fleet review off Portsmouth, to demonstrate the great potential of the new technology. Today, Turbinia is housed in a purpose-built gallery at the Discovery Museum, Newcastle.

He was knighted in 1911, and made a member of the Order of Merit (O.M.) in 1927.

The Parsons Building in Trinity College, Dublin, which houses the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, is named in his honour.