5th March 2021, 3:00pm


Kathleen Ollerenshaw - Mathematician and Committed Education Campaigner

Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw was an English mathematician and educator.  Ollerenshaw served as Lord Mayor of Manchester from 1975 to 1976, as well as an advisor to Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

Ollerenshaw’s love of mathematics was inspired by another woman, Miss Jenkin Jones, who was headmistress at Lady Barn House School during the time Ollerenshaw attended the school.  She would go on pursuing a dazzling academic and high-profile political career, and she was devoted to mathematics.  Ollerenshaw published one of the first solutions to the Rubik’s cube in the IMA Bulletin—now known as Mathematics Today.  Legend states that Ollerenshaw damaged the tendons in her pursuit of the finished cube and her left thumb required surgery!

Ollerenshaw was also a loyal supporter of the RNCM, with music critic Michael Kennedy citing her as a driving force behind the college. She was Chairman of the Joint Committee and Court at the College from 1972 to 1986.


‘Dame Kathleen was a remarkable woman who will forever be remembered as a pivotal figure in the history of the RNCM.  Her loyal support to both staff and students remains invaluable to this day.’

Professor Linda Merrick, RNCM Principal


Ollerenshaw died in 2014, at the age of 101 and her life was warmly commemorated by many educational organisations.  The Department of Mathematics at the University of Manchester currently curates a series of annual lectures in her honour.