Susan Auld (born Susan Denham Christie) was born in 1915 in Tynemouth, North Tyneside. She was part of long-standing naval and engineering family. Her grandfather was the founder of a company that became the Swan Hunter Shipyards on the River Tyne.
In 1936, Susan was the first woman to graduate with a degree in naval architecture from Armstrong College in Newcastle, which was then part of Durham University. She then set out on an impressive career which included joining the design office of Swan, Hunter, and Wigham Richardson at the Neptune yard on Tyneside and then went on to be an architect for the Royal Navy. She played an instrumental part in the war effort by designing battleships during the Second World War and the floating vessels that were used to land Allied troops on D-Day in France in 1944. After the war, Auld worked in commercial and cargo shipbuilding and was a member of the team that designed the Leda, which ferried passengers between Tyneside and Norway.
Auld is purported to have been the only female ship designer in the country during the 1940s when her career was taking off, firmly cementing her position as a pioneering contributor to the shipbuilding industry.