TfL celebrates 100th anniversary of first female bus conductor

02 November 2015

Transport for London (TfL) and bus operators are today celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first female bus conductor in London with a day of events, including a specially commissioned bus service on route 37.

Mrs G. Duncan became the first woman 'clippie' in London when she started work with the Thomas Tilling Company on route 37 on 1 November 1915. At the time, Britain was faced with the start of the First World War, and with many men away on military duty, including more than 17,000 Underground, bus and tram workers, there was a shortage of staff to run transport services. Women began undertaking work in transport, with over 4,600 women working for the London General Omnibus Company during the Great War.

Route 37 is now operated by Go Ahead, who are today running a special bus service with a traditional Routemaster to mark the centenary. The service will operate from Peckham Bus Station to Putney Heath, with some specially invited role-models from the industry on-board, including retired female bus conductors. Throughout the day there will also be celebratory messaging displays at bus stops and a social media campaign.

It was not until the Second World War that female bus conductors became a regular sight, with women also taking up roles in manual labour and heavy engineering. In 1974 the first female bus driver was employed in London. Today, women hold a range of roles across transport in London and work in areas as diverse as civil engineering, town planning and road traffic management.

Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL said:

`As the first female bus conductor, Mrs Duncan played a key role in our history and was one of hundreds of women who played such vital roles in serving London throughout the Great War. Today, women have a central role within our organisation and industry, helping to keep London working and growing both now and in the future on projects such as Crossrail 2 and the Silvertown Tunnel. We need to encourage more women to consider careers in the industry to work on the exciting transport opportunities in the Capital and wider UK as well as better reflect London's population.'

David Cutts, Go-Ahead London's Operations Director said:

`Go-Ahead London has a proud history of reflecting the communities it serves. We employ over 700 women bus drivers, in addition to a number of female engineering apprentices, supervisors and managers. The company pro-actively engages with its female workforce in order to make the job as attractive as it can be to women and we are proud to be involved with this Transport for London initiative.'

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.

  • Photographs from the event launch at Peckham Bus Garage and of Mrs G. Duncan can be found on the TfL Flickr page:
  • At TfL, women represent 22.8 per cent of the total workforce and 22.5 per cent of senior managers. Nationally, women make up 18 per cent of the transport industry workforce
  • The term 'clippies' came from the ticket machines used by female bus conductors to clip tickets
  • The 100 Years of Women in Transport twitter account, @transportwmn, will be tweeting throughout the day using the hashtag #busconductor100