Photo: Lesley Cook, East Anglian Daily Times
The fruits of much work by the Friends of the NRM are still flowering after twenty years. Their interviews with wartime female railway workers were among many carried out for the National Archive of Railway Oral History (NAROH). They’ve proved to be an invaluable resource, capturing the experiences of women doing unusual work at this time, in different parts of Britain. I used the interviews in my book Female Railway Workers in World War II (Pen & Sword 2018) and was contacted recently by the family of Gladys Garlick, who appears to be the only woman railway worker in the book who is still alive, now aged 97, and living in Suffolk. Following this Gladys has featured in VE Day publicity for LNER and in her local press, the East Anglian Daily Times.
Gladys was born in 1922 into a railway family, and joined the railways in 1940, as an LNER porter at Bowes Park Station. In 1942 when she was 20 she became a senior porter, moving to Grange Park. She then trained at Hatfield as a guard, one of the first two on LNER, stationed at Gordon Hill. She met her husband in 1945 and left in 1946.
Her account of her time working as a railway guard in WW2 includes how she started and trained, the feelings of the men towards the new women guards, and the horrors of a V2 bomb attacking her train in 1944. Audio clips of interviews with Gladys Garlick and another worker, York telephonist Betty Chalmers, are now on the NAROH website.
By Susan Major