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Remembered Today:

Munitions Works in Middlesex


Guest Hill 60
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My paternal Grandmother (Alice Bradbury nee Swain) was born in 1900. Obviously by 1914 she was nigh-on 14 years of age.

According to my Father, Alice worked in a munitions factory for an unknown amount of time.

My question is two-fold:

1. At what age could a girl start working in a munitions factory.

2. Where were there munitions factories in the Southall/Acton areas of Middlesex?

Any help gratefully received. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lee

There were munitions factories in the Acton area at Park Royal and Victoria Roads.

The Park Royal site employed about 7,000 people, mainly women.

Dave

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Dave - Many thanks for the help, gratefully appreciated.

It was after my nan's death that I found out she worked in a munitions factory.

I don't suppose you know if there was a lower age limit on those who could work in a munitions factory?

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Guest Pete Wood

According to the Woolwich Arsenal stastics, some departments were employing children as young as 12 in factories. These minors were paid, albeit badly.

But there were also schemes where younger (!) local school children did voluntary work, supervised by their teacher. The children were not paid for this part time work. My understanding is that the children would assist with cleaning and painting etc. In rural areas, where there were no factories, the youngest school children worked on farms, freeing up a farm-hand who would then work in the munitions factory (and earn more money).

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RT - Thanks for the information. I thought that at 14 she might have been too young, but it doesn't look like it.

I would hazard a guess that she worked until 1916 when he first brother was killed, as I've been told that she didn't work in munitions for the entire war. I know the deaths of her brothers was a major blow to her, and her family, a loss we are still feeling today.

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Lee,

for what it is worth children over the age of 10 would spend half a day at work and half a day at school.

My grandmother and great grandmother both did this in the mills up north

Peter ;)

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Peter - And children of today complain if they have to work around the house, don't know they're born :lol:

Thank you for the information mate. Still keeping safe I hope?

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Lee

If you have time to spare you might fid the book 'On Her Their Lives Depend', by Angela Woolacott , interesting.

It's about the changing role of women at work in the Great war. Not totally relevant to your question but revealing all the same.

Garth

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest robert.brown

For a contemporary account of life in a munitions factory (National Filling Factory No 7 at Hayes, Middlesex, just down the line from Acton) read "Fortune Grass" by Mabel Lethbridge, published in 1934. Rather a gruelling account (she lost a leg, in an explosion which was hushed up).

Not easy to find these days, but I see a copy is available on abebooks.com (usual disclaimer).

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Aha! Thanks Robert! My Nan used to live at Bankside in Southall opposite the canal, on the other side of the canal is Hayes, so it could well be that works she attended.

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Guest robert.brown

Glad this was of some help.

Further to my last (and depending on how interested you are) you might wish to know that the actual factory site was south of what is now Nestle's Avenue, and extended south to the north edge of Cranford Park.

The site occupied about 200 acres with a perimeter of 5 miles. It was guarded by a Colonel + 3 + about 200 ORs. (Could anybody else on the Forum could say what troops these were?) About 12,000 people were employed at the site, 10,000 of them women.

Even when I was a boy in the fifties some of the old huts were still being used as housing, and there were remains of all sorts if you looked for them.

From Bankside Southall it would have been about an half hour walk down the towpath to Bull's Bridge, then west along the Grand Union to reach the factory, the canal in this case being the most direct route.

Can e-mail you a picture of the factory if you are interested (can't post it on the Forum because I don't know about the copyright).

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Robert - I'd like a copy of the photo, please. I'll PM you my e-mail address.

Is Nestle's Avenue where the old Nestles works were? My father worked there after he came out of the Army and before he joined the Middlesex Fire Brigade in the 50's.

Many thanks for your help :)

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Robert - I spoke with my father the other day and at first he reckoned the it might have been too far for his mum to walk to each day, until I mentioned Bull's Bridge! He remembered her mentioning many years ago about going to Bull's Bridge to get to the munitions factory.

Is there a local history group who might have more info on the factory?

Many thanks for your help.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest robert.brown

Sorry about the delay in posting this- I've been out of circulation. There is a local history society: The Hayes and Harlington Local History Society.

As the curator is an old chum of mine I've written to him today and asked him what there is on the topic. May take a little time to reply as he only uses snail mail!

Will post more on the Forum if of general interest, else I will e-mail to you direct.

Robert

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Robert

The likelyhood is that the men guarding these factories were men from the Home Service Garrison Battalions of various regiments. In August 1917, eighteen of these Bns were formed into the Royal Defence Corps.

Terry Reeves

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Lee just came across this thread, brought up in Northolt 50s to 70s now in Brum. Bought a book a couple of years ago Old Northolt Greenford and Perivale in photos which has some references and a photo to another munitions filling station at Greenford but doesnt say where. First I knew of it.

What was a filling station or factory presumably where the empty shell cases were filled with explosive? If so was it manufactured there or shipped there. might have been quite hazardous transporting the stuff. It is noticeable that the places mentioned Hayes Southall and greenford are all on the Grand union canal was that used to transport explosives any Pal know?

salientguide

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salientguide - Hi :)

I used to live in Northolt (Kingshill Avenue and Gurney Road) and a little time in Hayes.

As for your question, haven't a clue mate! I would go with your assumption that the canal played a major part in getting munitions etc to and from the factory.

This is all new stuff to me, so I have to rely (as usual) on the Pals to help.

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  • 6 years later...

Robert - Thank you for the info about the Hayes and Harlington Local History Society, and I look forward to hearing the reply smile.gif

Hi My name is Mike and am doing some research in my retirement on the Munitions Factory No7 Hayes Mx. I grew up in Hayes

and went to Cranford Park Primary School. The school was surrounded on two sdes by the remains of the factory.

I have been able to find a lot of info already from a copy of Mabel Lethbridges book "Fortune Grass" plus articles from members in Northolt.

I see that " Robert" had a photo of the factory a copy of which may have been passed on to another member.

If any member has a copy of that photo would much appreciate a copy.

I am trying to build up as detailed picture of the factory and what went on there, as there seemed to be so little

information about locally when I lived there.

many thanks

Mike

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Thanks, Mike, for bringing this thread back. This is my part of what is a small world (I used to live in Warwick Cres - just round the corner from Kingshill Avenue). My great grandmother worked in a munitions factory but I think it would've been the second world war when she moved to the Hayes area as she was in Croydon when my G-Grandfather Harry was in France. Will have a look at Lethbridges book in the BL if it's available.

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  • 4 months later...

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