Famous Londoners – Hannah Dadds…

Hannah Dadds, seen in a London Underground poster in 2016. PICTURE: Kake (licensed under CC-BY-NC_SA 2.0)

As the first female driver on London’s Tube, Hannah Dadds broke new ground for working women.

Born on 16th October, 1941, Dadds grew up in the Forest Gate area of Newham. She left school when just 15 and worked in various jobs – including as a shop assistant and at the Bryant and May match factory – before in 1969 joining the London Underground to work as a “railwoman” at the Upton Park Underground Station, earning just over £13 a week.

Dadds went on to become a ticket collector at Tower Hill station and in 1976 became a train guard.

Following the passing of the 1975 the Sex Discrimination Act which opened up new jobs to women, in October, 1978, Dadds completed a seven week training course and, amid considerable fanfare, became the first female train driver on the Tube, driving her first train out of the Acton Depot to Ealing Broadway.

Initially assigned to the District line, she would go on to also drive trains on the Bakerloo and Jubilee lines. Dadds was also sometimes was paired with her sister, Edna, who joined the Underground after her sister and worked as a guard (they became the first all-female crew on the Underground).

Dadds, who retired in 1993, subsequently split her time between London and Spain. She died in 2011.

A plaque commemorating Dadds’ pioneering efforts was unveiled at Upton Park station in May, 2019, with her family and friends in attendance.

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