Object of the month Female Stationmaster

July 2023

For July’s Object of the month we feature some photographs from our new special exhibition Girls on Film.  The exhibition takes a look at the changing role of women who worked on the railway using the amazing photograph collection that we hold at STEAM.

The first woman that we know of to work for the GWR was Mrs Fury who was office cleaner at Swindon Works as early as the 1860s.  But a woman working for the railways was a rare sight at that time and it wasn’t until the 1900s that other jobs began to open up for women in traditional female roles such as telephonist and in the sewing rooms and laundry.

Women’s Polishing Shop at Swindon Works in 1914

It was the World Wars that saw women entering the workplace in more significant numbers.  To fill the roles left vacant by the men who had gone to fight, women began to work in even the heaviest of engineering jobs and out on the railway network.  This was essential to keep the railways running.

Female Stationmaster

Freda Jones, Stationmaster at Pontdolgoch in 1941

And so the opportunities for women working on the railways continued to open up, albeit slowly, and today women can choose to make a career in any area of railway work that they choose.

Dorothy Boulter, secretary to the Chief Carriage and Wagon Works Draughtsman in Swindon in 1966

Girls on Film – a snapshot of women working on the railway opens on 22nd July 2023.

Buy images online at www.steampicturelibrary.com

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