One of the world’s most famous steam trains, the Flying Scotsman, was driven by an all-female crew on the East Lancashire Railway (ELR) to mark International Women’s Day.
Organised by the National Railway Museum and ELR, the team wanted to involve local school children to celebrate the role of women in rail and encourage more women and girls into engineering careers and roles within the rail industry.
The education programme on the day was designed and coordinated by Karen Bennett, Education Team Lead at Community Rail Lancashire (CRL) and Education and Youth Engagement Advisor at Community Rail Network, with support from ELR and the Science Museum Group. From the planning stages, the team were keen for the event to be a celebration for all ages, and attending pupils were invited to bring along a female carer to join in the International Women’s Day celebrations.
On the big day, 120 Year 5 pupils from Holy Trinity CofE, St Marie’s R C and Woodbank primary schools walked to Bury Transport Museum with their teachers, parents and carers, and were met by the team from CRL, alongside volunteers from Intuitive Interim and Executive Search Ltd. Karen reached out to industry friends to support the team on the day and representatives from Northern, Community Rail Network, Network Rail, Freightliner, X Rail and Railway Children were in attendance.
After a grand welcome in the museum, two groups went to ride on the first trip of the day. The other two groups remained at the museum, where they had the opportunity to explore the exhibits – including dressing up and standing on the footplate of Union of South Africa. The pupils were also able to climb aboard the top deck of a double decker bus, where they had a careers talk from inspirational women in rail.
After lunch the groups swapped around, and the other classes had the opportunity to travel behind the world-famous engine!
Parents and carers had the opportunity to talk to STEM ambassadors whilst the pupils took part in activities, and Arlo’s Adventures author Bessie Matthews was on hand to answer questions about her children’s pick-a-path railway safety book.
In the evening, a ‘Lasses Train’ departed from Bury Bolton Street Station. Representatives from Community Rail Lancashire, Community Rail Network, station adopters, Northern, Avanti and Cross Country attended along with other industry guests.
Karen Bennett said: “I am so honoured to have been asked to work on this programme for International Women’s Day. It’s given me an opportunity to use an icon from railway past to inspire young people to work in railway in the future.”