Nan, a volunteer with The Royal Parks in the First World War, delved into the role of women at the Home Depot in The Regent's Park:
A staggering one million parcels, not to mention 12 million letters, passed through the Home Depot at The Regent’s Park weekly by the end of the War. They were heading to men around the globe serving in the British, Dominion and colonial Armies. Some of those men had been post office workers in their pre-Army lives and so the War Office urged the Army Postal Service: “It will be an excellent thing if you can employ women.”
By 1918, women made up 54% of the workforce. Despite lack of prewar postal experience, they were valued for their abilities to sort and fix poorly-packed parcels, and to guard against smuggling and communications to the enemy. Some women trained to work overseas, and a few were promoted to supervisor, including a former artist and a former seamstress.
Jobs at the Home Depot were well paid and not easy to get; the director fended off complaints of favoritism in hiring, and informed some disgruntled applicants that “none of the duties now performed by the women would be as well performed by the men.” Still, the work was hard. One temporary sorter reflected in rhyme:
I felt like giving the Game up,
But my conscience murmured then:
“Remember that you are carrying on
In the place of the brave A MEN!
To remind staff of their greater goal, a Union Jack hung on the wall.
Armistice Day surely brought rejoicing to the Home Depot, but it must have been bittersweet for the female employees. Like so many other women who served Britain during the Great War, they were soon to lose their jobs, and today historical records barely mention them. Home Depot supervisors Miss Langham, Miss Permain and Miss Deane would have had to be content with the satisfaction of a job well done, and with the general approbation of the press: “[The women at the Home Depot] have done work of great value ... they have shown marked aptitude for the work, and have proved both zealous and competent workers.”
Following the war, a series of cigarette cards extolled the “Romance of the Royal Mail,” while blithely noting the “dwindling” numbers of women still employed. By 1922, the Home Depot itself was gone from The Regent’s Park, the land returned to recreational use, and our stories of women working at the Home Depot are few and far between.