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Author Topic: The era of 'ladies only' train compartments  (Read 1476 times)
Siliconous Skumins
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« on: August 31, 2015, 12:34:17 am »


A "Ladies Only" sign on display at the National Railway Museum

[British political party] Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says he would consult on introducing rail carriages exclusively for women. But "ladies-only" compartments were once a familiar sight in the UK.

Today India, Indonesia, Japan and Mexico all offer female travellers their own sections of trains. And there's now much discussion over whether the UK should consider it. But for more than a century, British women did have similar facilities.

In March 1977, The Times reported that British Rail was phasing out its remaining "ladies only" compartments. At the time around 100 still existed on services between London and Essex.

They operated from as far back as the 1840s, and by the 1850s South Eastern had a rule that a "carriage is always reserved for ladies if required".

In October 1874 they were introduced on London's Metropolitan Railway following a series of highly-publicised attacks on women travellers - according to York University railway historian David Turner, who has researched the subject.

Calls for the carriages grew after 49-year-old Col Valentine Baker was convicted of indecent assault on a 21-year-old woman on a service from Portsmouth to Waterloo in June 1875.

The victim was forced to flee through the compartment's only door, which opened externally, leaving her balancing on the running board outside the moving train and clutching the door handle until the train came to a halt.

"Women were travelling alone and they were worried about being attacked as they went through tunnels," says cultural historian Fern Riddell.




Turner says the compartments were "rooted in the Victorian archetype of women being meek and submissive, who should know their place".

But much of the impetus for them came from women themselves, says Riddell. It was a period when women were commonly subjected to verbal and physical harassment in public places, she says, and, just as today, many demanded protection from it.

There were grumbles about the new sections from the outset, however. "Why will not ladies, especially when alone, travel in the carriage set apart as 'The Ladies' Carriage?'," wrote one correspondent to The Times on 25 June 1875, who complained that it was frequently empty while the rest of the train was full.

"A British Mother" replied in a letter to the editor that these compartments were "very frequently occupied by nurses and children" and that there was continuous "baby talk". She continued: "All ladies are not prepared to encounter the desagrements incident to the crying, feeding of children not their own."

Indeed, take-up was never as high as anticipated. "They were never that popular," says Bob Gwynne of the National Railway Museum.

During trials conducted in 1887, Great Western found that just 248 of 1,000 female-only seats were taken up, while more than 5,000 women used the smoking cars, says the NRM's Oliver Betts.

Newer trains were built with doors that opened on to internal corridors rather than out into the open air. Changing social attitudes, too, meant lone female travellers were less of a novelty.

But the "ladies only" compartments remained, generally denoted with green signs to distinguish them from smokers' sections, which were red.

During World War One, the Liverpool Echo reported (perhaps fancifully) that a student travelling to London in a women-only compartment had sat alongside two nuns. On the way, the young woman noticed that one of the sisters "disclosed a masculine wrist". The student informed the guard and when they reached their destination, the nuns "found themselves under arrest as dangerous German spies".

A 1936 Great Western Railway rulebook required guards to inform any unaccompanied women that the "ladies-only" compartments were available.

But women did not always take them up on the offer. In November of the same year, Transport Minister Leslie Hore-Belisha was asked in the Commons about them. "I am informed that there are carriages marked 'ladies only', but that the ladies prefer not to use them," he told the House.

By the 1960s they were a rarity, persisting mainly on suburban lines, and the replacement of compartments with open carriages rendered them impractical, says Gwynne.

But since then there have been calls for their reintroduction. In 1999 it was reported that ministers were planning to introduce women-only carriages on London Underground trains. Last year Transport Minister Claire Perry told the Conservative party conference she was open to the idea of bringing them back to the wider rail network to reduce sex attacks.

However, a report last year for the Department of Transport, by Middlesex University, said this would be a "retrograde step" that "could be thought of as insulting, patronising and shaming to both men and women".



By Jon Kelly
BBC News Magazine.
   26 August 2015

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-34061094
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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2015, 04:44:27 pm »

I think in a time when men were allowed obliviousness to women's troubles and not expected to police their own actions, separate rail cars for women made sense.

In an era where women are supposed to be considered full human beings and protected by the law, separate rail cars for their protection seem less necessary.
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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2015, 07:58:58 pm »

I was in a golf club in scotland, my parents play golf, I am a pro at clubhouse sitting.
it had a ladies only launch.
which made me kinda feel special..... and kinda discriminated.
but it was nice.
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« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2015, 01:59:47 pm »

Perhaps we just ran out of ladies?
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« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2015, 02:09:08 pm »

Perhaps we just ran out of ladies?

*eye narrow*
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Crescat Scientia
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« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2015, 02:54:12 pm »

Perhaps we just ran out of ladies?

*eye narrow*

Ah.  Wit.  I presume.
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Atterton
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« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2015, 08:29:31 pm »

It is well known that we reached peak lady in the 1880s.
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« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2015, 10:04:01 pm »

And most of us are down to only 50% Wit.   Smiley

But I suspect Mr. Atterton may be right - how would one keep the female non-Ladies out of any revived carriage? Sharpened hatpins?
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« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2015, 03:41:56 pm »

And most of us are down to only 50% Wit.   Smiley

But I suspect Mr. Atterton may be right - how would one keep the female non-Ladies out of any revived carriage? Sharpened hatpins?

male guards that open the door for the females. if said female reacts with "I can open that door myself you're only doing this to look at my butt" instead of a kind "thank you" they should not be allowed int the ladies cabin.
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Fairley B. Strange
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« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2015, 04:53:58 pm »

... you're only doing this to look at my butt.... 

*curses, who told her the secret of male chivalry?* - Excuse me, but may I help you to your seat, Miss...?

Incidentally, on a program I watched recently regarding the 'Yorkshire Ripper', apparently the public fear was affecting people travelling into town such that the bus companies had to run 'Ladies-only' buses.
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« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2015, 04:58:14 pm »

... you're only doing this to look at my butt.... 

*curses, who told her the secret of male chivalry?* - Excuse me, but may I help you to your seat, Miss...?


hehe. I've been 'one of the guys' for long enough to get some inside information.
and I very much appreciate the offer but I'd like to sit with my friends, who, though mostly homosexual, don't really count as ladies.
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« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2015, 06:12:56 pm »

I don't know how this could be policed. 

The railway company that runs my local line technically does not allow alcohol to be drunk on its trains... but it happens anyway. 
It technically is illegal to smoke in a railway carriage... but it happens anyway. 

Heck, 9 times out of 10 when I travel to Birmingham, I can do the whole journey (45 minutes) without once being asked for a ticket.  And when I travel back from Birmingham, 10 times out of 10 I am not asked to produce a ticket.  Now when I reach Birmingham I have to buy a ticket anyway to get out of the station, but what if I were only going to for 2 or 3 stops?- it is by no means unusual to find people jump on at one station, off at the next and in between do not have to dip into their wallets. 

If the railway company is willing to let people travel for free, and make no effort to collect fares, what hope is there that the same company is going to enforce a women-only carriage? 
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« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2016, 12:51:23 am »

Women themselves will police the carriage.  I have sat in ladies only carriages.  They are cleaner and smell nice.
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Banfili
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« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2016, 12:37:56 pm »

In North-Eastern Victoria (Australia) where I live, the trouble is getting a train that actually runs at all!!
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« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2016, 04:55:35 pm »

Divisive, victim blaming nonsense. To agree with the university at the end of the quote it would be a large step backwards and no doubt lead to further victim blaming down the road.

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Atterton
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« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2016, 05:43:40 pm »

You're just annoyed that you can't get to sit together with your inflatable female friend.
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« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2016, 11:32:50 pm »

Psh, she's readily deployable in any situation.

My issue with segregated carriages are more than who I can and can't sit near. It's something from the past and carries a certain amount of interest because of that, but its something that really should remain in the past.
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« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2016, 12:47:42 am »

i think there should be Corbyn only train compartments, so we do not have to listen to the rest of his tosh!
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« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2016, 06:55:16 am »

i think there should be Corbyn only train compartments, so we do not have to listen to the rest of his tosh!

And I think that politics should not be brought into this. They are a delicate subject at best, and those of us ladies on this thread would rather not listen to the men argue twaddle and semantics for the rest of the evening.
If you will excuse me sir, I will off to the ladies powder room where I don't have to think about politics.
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« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2016, 02:34:52 pm »

Spam post removed, carry on nothing else to see...........
« Last Edit: April 03, 2016, 03:43:58 pm by SeVeNeVeS » Logged

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« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2016, 03:36:08 pm »

Yes?
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