Wartime With The Tram Girls
July 1914: Britain is in turmoil as WW1 begins to change the world. While the young men disappear off to foreign battlefields, the women left at home throw themselves into jobs meant for the boys.
Hiding her privileged background and her suffragette past, Constance Copeland signs up to be a Clippie – collecting money and giving out tickets – on the trams, despite her parents’ disapproval.
Constance, now known as Connie, soon finds there is more to life than the wealth she was born into and she soon makes fast friends with lively fellow Clippies, Betty and Jean, as well as growing closer to the charming, gentle Inspector Robert Caldwell.
But Connie is haunted by another secret; and if it comes out, it could destroy her new life.
After war ends and the men return to take back their roles, will Connie find that she can return to her previous existence? Or has she been changed forever by seeing a new world through the tram windows?
Author Bio –
Lynn Johnson was born in the Staffordshire Potteries and went to school in Burslem, where the novel is set. She left school with no qualifications and got a job as a dental nurse (and lasted a day), a nursery assistant, and a library assistant before her ambition grew and she enrolled at the Elms Technical College, Stoke-on-Trent and obtained six O’levels. She obtained a Diploma in Management Studies and a BA Hons in Humanities with Literature from the Open University while working full-time.
Most of her working life was spent in Local Government in England and Scotland, and ultimately became a Human Resources Manager with a large county council.
She started to write after taking early retirement and moving to the north of Scotland with her husband where she did relief work in the famous Orkney Library and Archives, and voluntary work with Orkney’s Learning Link. Voluntary work with Cats Protection resulted in them sharing their home with six cats.
She joined Stromness Writing Group and, three months after moving to Orkney, wrote a short story which would become the Prologue to The Girl From the Workhouse.
Social Media Links – https://twitter.com/lynnjohnsonjots
She turned back to the depot and opened the door into the entrance hall. There was a large model of a tram in a glass case and on the wall above it, a portrait of a very stern and portly man, probably the founder. She tapped on the enquiry office window. The window slid open revealing a woman of indeterminate age and an expression similar to the founder.
‘May I help you?’
‘My name is Connie Copeland and I have an appointment with Mr Adams.’
‘Ah yes, I see your name in the diary. Could you please take a seat and Mr Adams will see you shortly.’
A whole ten minutes passed when a man with a walking stick approached her.
‘In yer come, miss.’
The man opened a door marked private and ushered Connie into a room. He walked round to the other side of the desk, pushed a pile of folders and papers to one side and motioned her to the chair facing him. He looked to be in his mid-thirties although his receding hairline may have given him a more aged appearance, especially as there were touches of grey scattered among the dark hairs.
‘So, you’re wanting a job?’
Connie nodded. ‘Yes, I would be pleased to work here.’ She glanced down at the papers littering his desk and caught sight of the letter she had posted only last week. She could even read it upside down too. Miss C Copeland, Holmorton Lodge, Sneyd Road, Stoke-on-Trent. She had taken note of Alice’s words and had decided that Connie sounded more approachable than Constance. She had even practised in front of the mirror. After all, she was donning a new identity.
‘And what did yer have in mind, Miss, er, Copeland? Office work maybe? Something light? Not too strenuous?’
She hesitated and tried to disregard his condescending manner. She thought for a second, what would Connie say?
He was of medium height. His cheekbones were pronounced, giving his eyes the dark, sunken look of someone lacking in sleep.
She brought her mind back to his question. ‘Well, Mr—?’
He coloured, and blustered momentarily, then stood to attention. ‘I’m sorry ma’am. Mr Adams, depot manager at Goldenhill, is who I am.’
‘Thank you, Mr Adams. I would like to work with you. As a clippie.’
He spluttered and struggled to turn it into a cough. ‘You… a clippie?’ He stared, open-mouthed. ‘I’m sorry, ma’am, but you don’t want to be a clippie. Not hereabouts. We get all sorts travelling with us. We can talk about other jobs, of course. But I don’t think you’ve thought it through.’
She lifted her chin. Her eyes bored into his. ‘I assure you, Mr Adams, I have thought about it very carefully. I want to do something constructive to help. I am strong and healthy and can hold my own in conversations requiring,’ she paused for effect, ‘a little determination.’
He looked at her curiously, seeming to weigh up the pros and cons of accepting her request.
‘If you take me on, Mr Adams, you can be sure that you will not regret it. I am punctual, hardworking and reliable.’