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Woman using steam press at Swindon Works, 1942

Woman using steam press at Swindon Works, 1942


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Filename: W8 081 Woman worker using steam press, 1942.jpg

Size: 2472 x 3124 (1.2MB)

Date: 28th February 2014

Source: STEAM Museum of the GWR

© STEAM Picture Library 2018 - All Rights Reserved

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Woman using steam press at Swindon Works, 1942

Although women were employed on the railways prior to 1939, work involving the operating of heavy machinery, as shown in this photograph, was considered to be unsuitable for the fairer sex. The severe shortage of staff during the war meant that the railways had to open up male only roles to female workers. The GWR was slow to embrace this fact, initially only allowing women to be employed in the more genteel roles within the company, and it was not until 1943 that women began to infiltrate into all areas of railway employment

STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway

Media ID 14547096

© STEAM Picture Library 2018 - All Rights Reserved

1940s Second World War Swindon Woman Works 1942


FEATURES IN THESE COLLECTIONS

> People > War Workers

> People > Workers at Swindon Works

> The Railway at War > Second World War


EDITORS COMMENTS
This print captures a significant moment in history at Swindon Works during the year 1942. In an era when women were deemed unfit for operating heavy machinery, this image showcases a groundbreaking shift in gender roles brought about by the Second World War. The scarcity of staff during wartime forced railways to reconsider their stance on female employment, leading to the opening up of male-only positions to women. However, the Great Western Railway (GWR) was initially hesitant to fully embrace this change. Women were only allowed into more refined roles within the company until 1943 when they finally began infiltrating all areas of railway employment. In this powerful photograph, we witness a determined woman fearlessly using a steam press, defying societal norms and contributing her skills towards supporting the war effort. Her presence symbolizes not only her individual strength but also represents countless other women who stepped forward during these challenging times. As we delve into this snapshot from history, it serves as a reminder that progress is often born out of necessity. The resilience and dedication displayed by these trailblazing women paved the way for future generations to challenge gender stereotypes and excel in any field they choose. This remarkable image stands as a testament to both the transformative power of war and humanity's capacity for change.

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