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Heritage trail highlights some of east London’s extraordinary women

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 February 2020

The heritage trail will explore the roles of women in east London throughout history. Picture: East End Women's Museum

The heritage trail will explore the roles of women in east London throughout history. Picture: East End Women's Museum

East End Women's Museum

A new heritage trail to celebrate some of east London’s extraordinary women has been launched.

Hannah Dadds was the first female Tube driver. Picture: TfLHannah Dadds was the first female Tube driver. Picture: TfL

The East End Women's Museum - which is set to open a permanent base in Barking - has created the 14-stop trail ahead of women's history month, taking place throughout March.

It highlights two historical strikes led by women - a fight for safer working conditions by the Bryant and May matchgirls in 1888 and the equal pay battle by Ford Dagenham employees 80 years later.

Other stops include the Minnie Lansbury memorial clock in Bow Road, which is dedicated to the politician and campaigner. As an elected alderman on Poplar Council in 1921, Minnie was jailed - along with five other women - for refusing to charge full rates from her poorest constituents.

Among the lesser-known stories to be told as part of the tour is that of Josie Woods, a music hall star who danced in theatres around the world.

Barking Abbey features on the heritage trail. Picture: Paul BennettBarking Abbey features on the heritage trail. Picture: Paul Bennett

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Born in Canning Town in 1912, she pursued a much more glamorous career than her docker parents and in the 1950s, organised a strike to demand fair pay for black extras on film and television.

Hannah Dadds, the first female train operator on the London Underground, is also highlighted.

She worked as a railwoman at Upton Park before training as a driver, taking the wheel for the first time in 1978. She was later joined by her sister Edna to become the first all-female train crew on the Tube.

Also included on the tour is the site of Miss Muff's Molly House - a venue used by members of the LGBT+ community in the 1700s where men could cross-dress in women's clothing and use female identities.

Further back in time is Barking Abbey, which was one of the most important institutions in the country in the medieval period - and run by some of the most powerful women in Britain.

The trail, which begins in Whitechapel and sees participants make their way Barking with a short trip on the Tube, should take around two or three hours for most people to complete.

To view an online version of the heritage trail or download a PDF version, visit eastendwomensmuseum.org/heritage-trail


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