Pioneering female apprentices return to BAE – 45 years on

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IT TRULY was a man’s world – that’s until these five women became the first female apprentices at Portsmouth’s naval base.

Mary Motteram, Mary Pennery, Susan Wright, Vivien Hurage and Barbara Arnold, made history by becoming the first women to sign up as trainees in 1969.

TODAY'S APPRENTICES From left, Susan Linford, Barbara Armstrong, Mary Pennery (nee Mallloy), Mary Motteram (nee Bromley)

TODAY'S APPRENTICES From left, Susan Linford, Barbara Armstrong, Mary Pennery (nee Mallloy), Mary Motteram (nee Bromley)

After 45 years, four of the women were reunited after a picture taken by The News on that historic day was reprinted in the paper.

BBC1’s The One Show picked up on the picture and now the women are set to feature in the programme’s Fame in a Frame section.

Mrs Motteram, nee Bromley, completed a four-year electrical fitter apprenticeship. The 61-year-old said: ‘I worked in an office for a bit but decided that wasn’t for me and so I started to have a look at what else I could do.

‘I saw the apprenticeship and thought it was different and exciting, plus there would be a job afterwards.

There is such a change compared to how we used to work

Mary Pennery

‘My friends and family were very supportive and I was very aware I was stepping into a male-dominated area.’

The four women had a tour around BAE and also spoke to current female apprentices about the changes since they last visited.

Mrs Motteram added: ‘There are fewer ships here than I remembered and also there are a lot of buildings that I remember that have been demolished.

‘I am impressed by the apprentice set-up here and the training as it seems to be quite modern.

Mary Bromley, Mary Malloy, Susan Wright, Vivien Hurage and Barbara Arnold pictured in 1969 among their 159 male counterparts. They were the first girls to start a dockyard apprenticeship.

Mary Bromley, Mary Malloy, Susan Wright, Vivien Hurage and Barbara Arnold pictured in 1969 among their 159 male counterparts. They were the first girls to start a dockyard apprenticeship.

‘I don’t remember it being quite so light and airy as it is in here.

‘Changes in health and safety rules have changed immeasurably as well.’

Mary Pennery, nee Malloy, 61, of Liss Road, Southsea, was also 16 when she started her apprenticeship.

She said: ‘I didn’t know much about the world of work when I left school, so when I started I certainly found it interesting. There is such a change compared to how we used to work.’

Claire Patterson, 29, of Portsmouth, started a craft engineer apprenticeship in September, said: ‘It was interesting to hear how things have changed.

‘I really enjoy my apprenticeship and there will be lots of opportunities that will come from it.’