Baldock women seeks Hertfordshire railway women’s wartime tales

Jenny Ayres is appealing for the public's help in creating a play on Hertfordshire railways during t

Jenny Ayres is appealing for the public's help in creating a play on Hertfordshire railways during the Second World War - Credit: Archant

A Baldock writer is seeking stories of women who worked on Hertfordshire’s railways during the Second World War.

Jenny Ayres of Mercia Road has been awarded funding to write a play about their experiences and wants to hear from women who took on the jobs on the tracks to help keep Britain on the move.

Her play will be set in Knebworth, which played a pivotal part during the war receiving evacuees, but she is interested in speaking to people from all over the county.

The 34-year-old said: “I have discovered in my research that there is not that much recorded about them and I would really like to talk to people first hand.

“It is still on the cusp of living memory and there are people who can still remember it, but as time goes by they are getting fewer and fewer.”

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Jenny, who is also an actress, was awarded the Women And Words grant by the Arts Council, which will enable her to write full time.

She was inspired to write about the railway women after she took her two children to the London Transport Museum where she read about women’s roles manning the London Underground during the war.

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Her play Trouble and Strife will explore the vital, but often unknown, work of the Hertfordshire railway women during the Second World War.

In the face of gruelling manual work, frequent prejudice and nightly bombing attacks women worked to maintain our railway lines, not only keeping the country moving but changing the world of women’s work forever

She said: “They took on the roles of stationmistress, signalwoman, guard, crosskeeper, porter and booking-clerk as well as workshop worker and engine cleaner, often performing huge acts of bravery that were never reported at the time.

“Their work was integral to the evacuation of children from major cities, the transportation of vital supplies across the country and the movement of troops, not least after Dunkirk and the D-Day landings.”

Her script will be completed in December and then developed by a cast who plan to perform it next year on March 8, International Women’s Day.

If you’ve got a railway story to tell Jenny, you can email her at

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