When I was writing Jam for Tea I recalled that the first woman to be blasted up into space was the Russian, Valentina Tereshkova.
Sometime later I found myself trying to remember the name of the first British woman to make that exciting journey into space. It was of course Helen Sharman who was born in 1963 just one month before Valentina Tereshkova made her historic flight.
Learning about Helen Sharman inspired me to find out about other British women trailblazers.
I’ve read the stories of some amazing women and found some Internet gems as well.
For example, this YouTube film clip is a fantastic record of the first woman to drive a London bus.
Her name was Jill Viner and she took her place behind the wheel in 1974.
Women were not allowed to drive London buses until the 1970s and the passing of the Sex Discrimination Act.
Jill Viner was working as a London bus conductress and immediately took advantage of the new opportunities offered by the change in the law and applied to qualify as a driver.
British Movietone News filmed Jill’s first day at work explaining that she’d wanted to be a bus driver since she was eight years old.
In the 1970s London Transport was short of over three thousand drivers to run a full service and it might be thought that Jill was kicking at an open door.
However the rampant sexism of the era was encapsulated in the Movietone commentary which was riddled with prejudice and stereotyping. In less than a minute the voiceover managed to include: “Well, it’s the end of all those jokes about women drivers. Like it or lump it…. We men have brought it on ourselves. Red-headed Jill…. says she’ll wear the trousers. But with a pretty girl like Jill at the wheel, who’s complaining?”
Despite Jill’s achievement in 1974 it looks as though Transport for London is still having to work hard to encourage women to work in transport.
Thanks for visiting my blog today.
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Book of the Day
Following the sale of Leefdale’s Old Rectory, several villagers find themselves drastically affected by the actions of their new neighbours.
Sleepy, picturesque Leefdale soon becomes a place of bitter conflict which attracts the attention of a boorish political reporter and the national media who are in pursuit of a much bigger story.
By the end of the summer the lives of three women will be transformed irrevocably.