A new, 4-metre-long tapestry unveiled at Gloucester station to mark International Women’s Day

A new tapestry depicting stories of women in rail over the ages was unveiled by Gloucester MP Richard Graham at a special event at the station on International Women’s Day.

GWR – The Hundred Heroines tapestry at Gloucester Station. Gloucester, Gloucestershire. 08 March 2024.

Using the skills of the community project and working with internationally renowned participatory artist, Lisl Ponger, to create the tapestry, the ‘Hundred Heroines’ artwork transfers photographs of the women in rail narrative onto fabric squares, embroidered and stitched together by more than 50 different women.

Funded by the Great Western Railway (GWR) Customer and Community Improvement Fund, the 3.6m x 2.6m women in rail artwork depicts stories around GWR and its links to Gloucester, for example the women who worked for GWR during WWII.

MP Richard Graham said:

“Shedding light on the past and present role of women in our transport sector and GWR in particular is a great way to celebrate International Women’s Day at Gloucester Station.”

Part of the project involved archive visits and learning how to undertake research. As a result of this, the project team developed a keen interest in the history of GWR and found several stories that they incorporated into the tapestry.

Great Western Railway and Network Rail Wales and Western People and Transformation Director Ruth Busby said:

“It is amazing. This detailed tapestry depicts how women have been involved in the rail industry over the course of many decades, and we are delighted to be able to unveil it here today.

“As we mark International Women’s Day it is important to remember how diverse and inclusive the rail industry is and that anyone can be part of the railway family; we all belong wherever we want to belong. 

“There are so many career opportunities for people of all backgrounds and all skill levels, and we are passionate in continuing our hard work with Network Rail to encourage people to join our family.”

After the unveiling, the tapestry will be photographed in sections to be made into posters to display in the waiting room at Gloucester station. It is too large to be displayed in its actual form and will be on display at the Eastgate Centre for visitors to view.

Chair and Founder Hundred Heroines, Del Barrett, said:

“This has been an extraordinary journey of discovery as to the role women have played in the history of GWR.  What better way to celebrate International Women’s Day than by bringing this work to the fore through a contemporary artwork designed and made by women.”

Artist Lisl Ponger said:

“I’m delighted to be here on International Women’s Day with GWR, who are supporting women by laying the tracks for a better future.”

GWR’s Customer and Community Improvement Fund is designed to support small and medium rail-related projects that can be completed over the course of a financial year.

GWR has announced that they are now inviting bids for the Customer and Community Improvement Fund for the 2024/25 financial year. The fund opened to bids at the end of February and closes on Monday 25 March.

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