Last June, Transport for London (TfL) published a note to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of Maida Vale Tube station, which was staffed entirely by women when it opened its doors to the public on the 6 June 1915 as part of the Bakerloo line extension from Paddington to Queen’s Park.
A magnificent story that needs to be shared here.
Britain was in the middle of the First World War and many men were away on military service, including more than 17,000 Underground, bus and tram workers. With a shortage of staff to run the Tube, The Underground Electric Railways of London, the forerunner of London Underground, became one of the first transport providers in the country to allow women to work in operational roles.
Maida Vale was the first Underground station to have an all female workforce, in roles including ticket inspector and ticket clerk. Women on the Underground took on almost all roles traditionally done by men, including guards, painters and depot cleaners, with the exception of train driver which was still done by men
Maida Vale’s female workforce continued to work at the Tube station until 1919 when many servicemen returned to London. Two decades later, following the outbreak of the Second World War, a similar shortage of labour opened up jobs for women again and this time they took on virtually every role, including manual labour and heavy engineering.
Since then women have continued to hold a range of roles on the Underground and across transport in London and work in areas as diverse as civil engineering, town planning and road traffic management.
Mike Brown, Managing Director of London Underground said:
“Maida Vale station has played a key role in our history, opening in 1915 as part of the extension of the Bakerloo line beyond Paddington, as well as being staffed entirely by women so that the Underground could continue to play a vital role in serving the Capital during the Great War.
“Today, our ambition is to extend the Bakerloo Line beyond Elephant & Castle towards Lewisham as part of the Mayor’s 2050 Infrastructure Plan to keep pace with growing demand. Women have a central role in our organisation, both now and in the future which is why we need to encourage more women to consider careers in the industry to represent London’s population and meet the challenges facing the Capital.”
Naomi Smith, Performance Manager (Stations) on the Bakerloo line, said:
“I have worked in the transport industry for over 20 years now and in operational roles for the last 14 years including managing a number of stations on the Bakerloo and Central Lines as a Group Station Manager and managing London Underground’s Revenue Control Inspectors.
It is fantastic to see the changes over the years and I would encourage anyone thinking about getting involved in a career in transport to do so, it opened up so many possibilities for me.”
Source | TFL