Celebrating Lancashire’s women in the world of work over the years

It’s International Women’s Day on Friday, and to mark the occasion, we looking back at the vital role women have played in the workplace, taking on what were traditionally male jobs, particularly in times of crisis.

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 2:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 3:33 pm
13th March 1934:  A worker finishing off a woollen suit at the Windsor factory at Blackpool. The Duchess of York ordered the clothing worn by the woolly Windsor doll for Princess Margaret Rose.  (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
13th March 1934: A worker finishing off a woollen suit at the Windsor factory at Blackpool. The Duchess of York ordered the clothing worn by the woolly Windsor doll for Princess Margaret Rose. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

During the two world wars, women took the place of the men who had gone off to fight, becoming mechanics, ambulance drivers and factory workers.

During the Second World War, the Women’s Auxiliary Police Corps was formed, and our pictures show recruits to the Preston force in about 1940.

Other emergency services also recruited women, including the ambulance service, where they learned how to keep their vehicles running smoothly.

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Women ambulance drivers in training at Blackpool. Over 100 women enrolled as ambulance drivers under the Women's Voluntary Service at Blackpool. They were taught mechanics A.R.P. and gas drill at the Blackpool Corporation Driving School. They had very businesslike appearance as they learned all about motors, wearing special overalls. O.P.S. A woman ambulance driver trainee delving into the mysteries of a car engine at Blackpool. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Following the Second World War, more and more women went to work. By 1965, more than half of women of working age were in employment, although women’s wages were still lower than their male counterparts, and a marriage bar prohibited married women from working.

In the Civil Service, for example, the marriage bar was enforced until as late as 1973 for the foreign service.

Post-war, women returned to what were seen as more traditional roles. Our picture of passengers being served refreshment on their luxury coach service from Blackpool to London, for instance, was taken in 1960.

Women are still striving to win equality in the workplace, one of the reasons International Women’s Day was founded.

The Blackpool conductorettes issued with their new uniforms. Here is a trio of 'platform ' girls in their new attire, Blackpool. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Held on March 8 every year since the early years of the 20th century, it has been adopted by the United Nations. It has a theme every year, and this year’s is Balance for Better – a campaign calling for action to drive gender balance across the world.

• For more information on International Women’s Day, visit www.internationalwomensday.com

A member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force working in the motor transport section greases the giant wheels of a lorry in Lancashire, October 1939. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
circa 1940: Mrs Russell of the Womans Auxiliary Police Corps in Preston maintains that a police uniform does not mean that the wearer should be drab or dull. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
circa 1940: Acting as drivers for police cars is one of the most popular and important jobs for the Womans Auxiliary Police Corps in Preston. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Denise George serving refreshments to passengers on board a 'Gay Hostess' luxury coach service between London, Blackpool and the Lake District, May 31, 1960. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A student at the Lancashire County Council Dairy School, at Hutton near Preston, turning a large cheese in the cheese maturing store, October 1938. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
18th November 1939: Women ambulance drivers at Blackburn doing their daily physical training exercises. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
30th October 1939: A member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force working in the motor transport section greases the giant wheels of a lorry in Lancashire. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)