First female Tube driver honoured with Upton Park station plaque
PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 June 2019
A plaque paying tribute to the first female Tube driver has been unveiled at Upton Park station.
Hannah Dadds, who was born in Forest Gate, joined London Transport - as it was known then - in 1969.
She was originally assigned to work as a railwoman at Upton Park and worked her way up the career ladder before qualifying as a driver in 1978 - just three years after the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 helped to create the opportunity.
Her niece Vivian Parsons, who spoke at Friday's unveiling, said: "At the time she did not realise what a big step she took for women but made the most of the opportunity that she was given.
"Whilst the offer was made for her to sit the drivers' exam, she was more than aware she was expected to fail and knew she had to score high marks as people were looking to find any excuse to say she was not good enough."
Working on the railway ran in the family - Hannah would often be paired with her sister Edna Field, who worked as a guard, while their brother John worked as a train driver for British Rail.
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Vivian explained: "When she first started, there were no ladies' toilets in the drivers' mess - she used to have to wait for the toilet to be empty.
"She made the effort to fit into what was a man's world rather than make demands - she wanted to show she did not need any allowances made for her because she was a woman.
"She made sure she was accepted as a driver, not a token female driver, and there was no special treatment."
She moved to Spain after retiring in 1993 but later returned to the UK to be near to her family.
Hannah, who died of cancer in 2011, was even invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen at a lunch for pioneering women.
Chris Taggart, head of operations for the District line, said: "It's great to commemorate Hannah's achievements as part of the celebration of 150 years of the District line.
"The history of the Tube is made up of influential and courageous people who have worked on it, and Hannah is one of those."