Women of Steel honoured at last

// 26 January 2010

Transcript below.

Four Sheffield women travelled down to London last week to receive official thanks from Prime Minister Gordon Brown on behalf of the hundreds of South Yorkshire women who worked in the region’s steel factories during World War Two. Their train was renamed the Women of Steel Express in their honour.

Ruby Gascoigne, 87, Dorothy Slingsby and Kathleen Roberts, both 88, and Kit Sollitt, 90, all worked traditional male roles for half the men’s pay packet during the war, only to be sacked with a few hours’ notice when the men returned. They had received no official recognition for their work until now.

Local newspaper The Star took up the women’s case, inspired by a fantastic project to collect the oral histories of South Yorkshire women working in industry over the past 100 years.

I’m so pleased for them!

‘Hi, I’m Richard Caborn, I’m the Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central and I’m here with four very nice ladies who during the war years were conscripted to work in the steel works. They were doing the munitions, making the planes and parts for ships, and they never got recognised. So sixty years on they’re now being recognised by the Ministry of Defence and very generously also by our Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and they’re absolutely delighted.’

Gordon Brown greets each woman by name.

Photographer tells GB that the women left Sheffield on a train named ‘The Women of Steel Express’.

‘I’m Ruby Gascoigne, I’m 87 year old, sorry to say, and we’ve come here because we’ve been recommended for the work we did during the war, in the steel works. Because we weren’t thanked at the time, you know, we just went and did it – not always for good pay. And of course when the war was over we were sent packing -‘Get out, we don’t need you any more! – and that was it. You just carried on with your life. Then this comes along, somebody suggesting it’s time they honoured the women from the war work. It’s marvellous, and my family’s thrilled to bits for me. I’ve got four boys and they think it’s absolutely wonderful that this has happened to their mum.’

Comments From You

Rosalind // Posted 27 January 2010 at 12:22 pm

It’s great that these women have finally been recognised but it should have happened a long time ago.

The Friendly Lefty // Posted 27 January 2010 at 2:10 pm

I have an article on my blog about the changes WWII brought to women’s lives and marriage. I’d be interested in what the readers of this blog think:

http://thefriendlylefty.wordpress.com/2010/01/17/myths-about-marriage/

Cycleboy // Posted 28 January 2010 at 1:06 pm

‘for half the men’s pay’ is a particularly shameful phrase to read. Perhaps they ought to demand back pay.

Terry Foers // Posted 28 January 2010 at 6:56 pm

I am pleased that at last the women of WW2 have at last been recognised. My Mother-in-law has told us many stories over the years about the time she was sent from Barnsley to work at Firth Browns during the war. She met her Husband there. she also was asked to stay on after the war when most of her women friends were finished. It is sad however that she has never been contacted or thanked by anybody. We don’t think that she is aware of the honor given by the Prim Minister. We haven’t said anything. She is 97 now and still lives on her own looking after her self and cooks a proper meal every day. The only luxury she will permit is a cleaner once evry two weeks. It would be very nice for her if she received a letter from no 10. She is hopeing to still be arround for a card from the Queen.

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