Mrs Jessie Edith Lawrence, porter at Kirkdale Station during the First World War
The role of many women in the city, like Mrs Jessie Edith Lawrence, changed drastically during the First World War. As more and more men left for the Front their work roles were filled by women. Jessie became a porter at Kirkdale Railway Station, she is pictured here in uniform. Many women were experiencing independence for the first time. For thousands of women this independence was short-lived, as they were forced out of their jobs when men returned home at the end of the war.
For other women, economic independence was a burden. The government Separation Allowance was paid in monthly instalments. Wives, used to their husband’s weekly (in some cases daily) wage, struggled with their budgets. Local charities provided assistance and campaigned for a change to the regulations. Weekly payments were introduced in October 1914.
Initially the Allowance stopped immediately when a man was killed, replaced by much lower pensions which were slow to be approved. Not all women qualified for the Allowance. Dependants had to produce a marriage and/or birth certificates, which they often did not have. Mothers who were financially dependant on their sons, at first were entitled to nothing. Without local relief funds, numerous soldiers’ dependants faced extreme poverty.