Transport for London (TfL) is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of Maida Vale Tube station this weekend, 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.
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.
To mark the centenary, a number of celebrations are being held at the station on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 June, including an exhibition chronicling the history of women in transport, with staff volunteers on hand to speak with customers about the history of the station and the role of women in transport.
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.'
Staff at TfL were also recognised this week at the FTA Everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards. The awards champion women in the transport industry and help to encourage more into the sector, to plug the skills-gap and ensure a more diverse, population-representative workforce. Zoë Dobell, a London Underground Project Engineer was awarded 'Rising Star of the Year' and Michele Dix, Managing Director for Crossrail 2, was awarded the Spirit of Everywoman for being a pioneer in the transport and logistics industry.
TfL has joined forces with Crossrail, the Department for Transport, Network Rail, the Women's Transportation Seminar and Women's Engineering Society as well as others in the transport industry to celebrate 100 Years of Women in Transport. This is being used as an opportunity to showcase the role of women in transport, share best practice from across the industry and tackle the challenges that remain.