To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March Talyllyn Railway made history crewing a steam locomotive with a mother and daughter team.

This is believed to be the first instance of such in Railway Preservation history! Sarah Freeman got involved with the Talyllyn Railway in 1993 as a trainee guard. She met husband Mark while volunteering on the railway. In 2017 she was passed to drive steam locomotives.

Sarah and Ffion
Sarah and Ffion are thought to have made history- (Photo: Talyllyn Railway) (Talyllyn)

Sarah said: “The Talyllyn is such a real family, it’s always been accepting of ladies and it’s great that the number of women in the locomotive, engineering and outdoor departments has been going up over the past few years.

“It’s such an honour that my daughter is able to fire to me - maybe one day my second daughter will join her!”

Eldest daughter Ffion has been around the Talyllyn since birth, helping Sarah in the booking office at six months old!

This led to an interest in the railway and in 2018 she started as a cleaner in the locomotive department and has worked her way up the ranks, also sitting on the Railway’s Young Members Group committee, looking after the organisation of working parties.

“I’ve been a volunteer since I was a baby so I’ve never really known a time without the railway,” she said.

“It’s great the place is so accepting of people from all backgrounds, I’ve made so many friends my age. It’s so nice to be the first ever mother and daughter crew. We’ve been on the footplate before but always with dad as driver or fireman, so to be the fireman to my mum has been really special.”

The duo took over 90 local women and children to Abergynolwyn Station to attend “Platform Pilates”, followed by cream tea.

Lorraine Simkiss, General Manager Commercial, said: “The 2024 International Women’s Day Campaign is to inspire inclusion. When we come together as a community we are included. We forge a better world, this in turn gives us a sense of belonging and empowerment. Women of all ages and all abilities are the epitome of strength and resilience. Here at The Talyllyn Railway we are inclusive, not exclusive.”

Talyllyn Railway has a long history of women volunteers dating back to the 1950s. In 1957 Anne Hatherill was passed out as the first qualified women fireman in the UK, which started a great legacy of inclusion and diversity at the railway for all volunteering roles.