Women of Steel honoured at last

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.’

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