Conservatoire creator dies, aged 101

Dame Katherine Ollerenshaw, a former lord mayor of Manchester, was the driving force behind the creation of the Royal Northern College of Music.

Katherine (pictured left) was no mere politician. Deaf from the age of eight, she read maths at Cambridge (rare for a woman in the 1930s) and did formative work on critical lattices and magic squares. She gained her DPhil in 1945 without having to write a thesis.

From 1956 to 1981 she was a Conservative member of Manchester City Council, driving through the creation of what became the Royal Northern College of Music. She was its chair for 18 years, from 1968 to 1986.


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  • She graduated from, and was awarded her PhD without writing a thesis, by Somerville College, Oxford – where Margaret Thatcher read Chemistry.

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