Museum case study – Battle Bus – A Driving Force

In 2013 London Transport Museum was awarded HLF funding to restore and conserve a B-type bus (B2737). alongside the restoration of the ‘Battle Bus’ LTM is running an in-depth, four-year, learning programme, engaging people in the centenaries of the First World War. The programme is working with different groups of volunteers to investigate new perspectives of the Battle Bus, and bring to life the stories of those affected by war.

LTM commissioned S.I.D.E Projects to develop their 2015 volunteer engagement project, leading to a touring exhibition. The focus of this project was on the experiences of women; At the outbreak of war in 1914 thousands of men from the transport industry volunteered to take on military roles. The industry lost a significant proportion of its workforce, and it wasn’t long before women were called upon to fill the roles that men had left behind. In the bus industry, one of the roles undertaken by women was as conductors, ‘clippies’ or ‘conductorettes’ – as they were sometimes called. They received mixed reactions from the public, simultaneously a symbol of women’s important contribution to the war effort, as well as a target for derision by those who felt that women were not capable of carrying out such responsible jobs.

Working with over 40 female professionals, currently employed in the transport industry, S.I.D.E Projects supported LTM to explore the stories of the first women in transport. We looked at the experiences of these women and how they contrast to that of women working in the industry today, how the role of women has changed over time, as well as asking if women today still face the same prejudices as counterparts from 100 years ago.

This film is taken from the exhibition. Sarah Liles, a Bus Driver, and Liza Maddocks, an Employee Relations Assistant, talk about their experience of working in the bus industry today.

The stories all contributed to a final exhibition, ‘A Driving Force: 100 years of women in transport’. As well as the film the exhibition included oral history interviews, artwork and a timeline of key milestones in the story of women in transport from 1915-2015.

In the Summer and Autumn of 2015, the exhibition toured cultural and community venues throughout London, including Catford Bus Garage, London Transport Museum Depot in Acton, Westminster Music Library and Victoria Coach Station.

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