As men signed up in huge numbers for military service in the Second World War, key industries like ours became heavily dependent on women in order to stay operational and keep gas flowing.
These roles included some of the most arduous tasks at gas production sites. Stoking the retorts, brick-laying, gas-fitting, digging out purifiers – all expertly and readily delivered by women.
Thankfully, some of this was captured on film: photographs we are delighted to showcase here today (credit: National Grid Gas Archive) show women painting gas mains and retorts, shovelling coke, manufacturing mothballs, digging out naphthalene and moving bricks on a barrow.
And we pay tribute too to the women of the gas industry who supported troops closer to the field of battle. Women like Miss M. E. Gill, pictured here, formerly a typist at the Gas Light and Coke Company. She was one of the first members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) to go to France to support the British Expeditionary Force. Some ATS telephonists were among the last British personnel to leave France during the evacuation from Dunkirk in May 1940.
We’ve worked with Professor Russell Thomas, chairman of the history panel of the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers, to produce this special series of stories for #VEDay75.