WHILE the Turbinia, the ship Sir Charles Parsons propelled to fame, is berthed in Newcastle’s Discovery Museum, the final resting place of the great man himself is a far more humble affair.

For the man who revolutionised marine engines and his wife, Katharine, lie in graves that have long been neglected.

Now an engineer with an interest in their story, Ruth Baldasera, has launched a fund-raising campaign to cover the cost of tidying up the couple’s plot in St Bartholomew’s Churchyard, in Kirkwhelpington.

She is already half-way to her target of £3,000, a sum she hopes will leave something in reserve for future clean-ups too.

“Neither their son nor daughter married and there weren’t any grandchildren, so there haven’t been any direct descendents to take care of their graves,” said Ruth.

“I was taken aback when I saw the state of them and just thought something needed to be done.”

Sir Charles Algernon Parsons (1854-1931) trained as an engineer in William Armstrong’s engineering works in Newcastle before establishing his own company in 1889 to manufacture steam turbines and dynamos.

His reputation was sealed in the late 1890s by the new compound turbine he invented and installed in the Turbinia, turning it into the fastest ship in the world at that time.

At its peak, his factory employed 12,000 people. Today, it is owned by German multi-national Siemens and still employs 600 people at its site on North Tyneside.

“Thousands of local people have benefited from employment at Parsons over the years,” said Ruth.

Lady Parsons, who also took a keen interest in engineering, encouraged her daughter Rachel to join the ranks and together the pair helped found the Women’s Engineering Society, which still exists today.

The Parsons’ son, Algernon, was killed in action during the First World War, after which, Ruth believes, the couple couldn’t face returning to their main family home, Holeyn Hall in Wylam. The couple moved to Ray Demesne, near Kirkwhelpington.