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Beatrice Page (1889-1972)

Beatrice Page (1889-1972)

(Courtesy of Press Association Images)

 

Beatrice Page was the first female tram driver in the country

 

A Family Affair

Beatrice Alice Eileen Granger was born on 17 September 1889 in Weston-super-Mare. She was one of ten children born to Mary and Thomas Granger. Sadly four of the children died in childhood. Her father worked as a mason’s labourer.

Beatrice married William Edward Page in 1907. She was 18 years old and William was 26. The couple lived with Beatrice’s parents for the first few years of their married life before moving to Whitecross Road. In 1911 their daughter Olive was born and a son Thomas followed in 1915.

William operated one of the first river ferry services between Weston-super-Mare and Brean Down.

 

On the Trams

In 1916 Beatrice became the first female tram driver in the country. All young fit men were now required by law to join the armed services. This meant that the Weston-super-Mare Tramways lost many of its tram drivers.

The Managing Director decided that the only way to replace their drivers was by employing women for the duration of the war. The Company paid women drivers less than they had paid the men. In August 1918 the women workers went on strike for equal pay.

Beatrice’s husband William served with the 3rd Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry. His Battalion recruited and trained new soldiers who were then sent to join the other Battalions who were fighting abroad. He was stationed in Devonport from 1914-1917 and Londonderry and Belfast from 1917 to 1919.

 

The End of an Era

After the war ended, men who had been abroad fighting began to return to Weston-super-Mare. Many had been promised that their jobs would be kept open for them while they were away. Some women were sacked so that the men could return to their old jobs.

Beatrice moved to Gurney Slade in Dorset where she became involved in the work of the Salvation Army. She also fostered children.

In 1937 the decision was taken to replace the tram service with buses. On the 18 April 1937 the last tram ran through Weston-super-Mare. To celebrate her role in the war, Beatrice was invited back to be a passenger. The trams had served the town for 35 years, travelling over 4,000,000 miles and carrying around 51,000,000 passengers. 

Beatrice died on 1 December 1972. She was 82 years old.

 

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Published 2 years ago by Amal Khreisheh

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