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Remembered Today:

Dundee National Shell Factory Staff Social March 9, 1918


John Gilinsky
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Plenty of engineering ability and capacity in Dundee at the time of the Great War. She was a highly industrialised city. As for munitions connections, both then and in WW2, Dundee was a main submarine base. Do we know what shell factories did? Could they have made fuses? Could they have made shell cases as opposed to the shells themselves? This was not a large premises. It took up 7 doors ( odd numbers between 51 & 63) So not big as Dundonians reckoned mills and works. At the time, Cox's Camperdown Works in Lochee was one of the largest factories in Britain.

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Ladies and gentlemen for your viewing pleasure. I just finished scanning the 4 pages and they appear to be adequate. Now I just need to get home and downsize them and post them. I am happy to have triggered an awareness of just how significant the home front, female munition workers etc...were to the war and Great Britain (including of course Canada!).

Hope you all enjoy this cute and pamphlet.

John

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Plenty of engineering ability and capacity in Dundee at the time of the Great War. She was a highly industrialised city. As for munitions connections, both then and in WW2, Dundee was a main submarine base. Do we know what shell factories did? Could they have made fuses? Could they have made shell cases as opposed to the shells themselves? This was not a large premises. It took up 7 doors ( odd numbers between 51 & 63) So not big as Dundonians reckoned mills and works. At the time, Cox's Camperdown Works in Lochee was one of the largest factories in Britain.

Tom,

Now you mention it, it is a small frontage, if it was tenemented. or was it the whole front of the "Bow Brig?". It could have been a finishing shop for blank components coming from the various foundries like Blackness, Lawside, Monifieth and others, if it was a small factory. Incidently the hydralic caliper riveting machine in the Caledon in the frame shop, was used in the building of submarines in the Great War was still being used in 1958 where I was a rivet catcher.

Tom

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Toms and John.

This thread led me to a book I'd forgotten I had. "Dundee at Work" by Janice Murray and published by Alan Sutton publishing in 1999 has a variety of photographs of industrial Dundee between 1860- 1960. It covers the many trades and businesses including confectionary, journalism, farming, ship building, brewing and whaling but by far the largest section is of course, devoted to the Jute industry. While there are many pictures of the various mills, unfortunately there are none of Bowbridge works(except it's fire brigade). At the industry’s height there were literally dozens of companies involved in the processing of jute and the manufacture of jute based products As you point out the largest was Cox brothers who in 1910 employed over 5,000 people at their factory. This was a huge facility which spread over 35 acres and which had, in addition to the spinning and weaving sections, their own bleach works, stables, timber stores, railway, half time school and machine shop. Obviously in times of war the engineering departments were ideally suited to the production of armaments, shell casings etc. There exists in the book a picture from around 1916 of the women staff of Parker’s engineering works, Balgray Street Dundee who were engaged in the manufacture of munitions.

With regard to the factory in discussion, I’m having a problem accepting the address. Bowbridge works ran on the eat side of Mains Road (odd numbers) between the north side of Thistle st, and the south side of Dens road where Mains road ends. The factory enterance was at the junction of Thistle st and Caldrum street and there was no access to the factory from Mains Road apart from perhaps a loading bay. The picture below shows the factory today with Thistle street ahead and Mains road running off to the left. The last number on the South side of thistle street is 29. therefore how did any thing get the numbers 51-63? Could the munitions factory been in Mains street or even Mains loan?

post-16112-1197064079.jpg

The picture shows the remaining portion of Bowbridge works looking down Mains Road. The door just beyond the red car was formed relatively recently to provide an emergency exit for the social club which now occupies this part of the building. the lighter buildings on the far left of the picture are the new houses built on the site of the demolished part of the factory.

Tom R.

The book I mentioned above has also some pictures of "Submarine Miners" engineering volunteers from the early part of the 20th century. the submarine base was established in 1909 and the book also has pictures of Submarines moored at the docks in 1912 and a picture of HMS Vulcan which was the submarines' parent ship.

Tom Mc.

There is also a good picture of the 4th Bat Black Watch boarding the train at Tay Bridge station en route to France on the 23rd Feb 1915.

regards

Ian

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There was a foundry over in Brown Constable Street, The Wallace foundry. About 10 minutes walk from Mains Road. Mains Loan was high class houses on one side and Maryfield Hospital on the other. Unlikely venue. Mains Street is a strong contender, factory premises and warehouses. At the top, just down from Bowbridge Bar, in my time, was a Cinema which would not have been there at this time.

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We lived in Kinghorne road when I was a boy and I can remember when I was very young going to the cinema with my mum, my aunts and cousins to see"The Lady and the Tramp". it was next door to the Coop or "Sosh". Both the sosh and the cinema are no longer there and have been replaced with housing. There was also a factory where the "fitness first" place is and I was also thinking about the factory premises further down on the other side.

regards

Ian

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post-7558-1197082877.jpg

Here is the cover. It has been amateurishly if fairly carefully hand coloured (probably by one of the participants to the social). The overall program is in fair to good shape with some slight foxing especially on the back cover.

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And here is the small humourous vignette on the back cover! :rolleyes:

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post-7558-1197083556.jpg

Here is one side of the double-page spread of various humourous social commentaries by the artist T. Ross.

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Here is the other side of the double-page spread of various humourous social commentary by the artist T. Ross.

I am very happy to have helped out and stirred some considerable interest in this long forgotten factory!

John

Toronto, Canada

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John,

This is a brilliant little programme, but dare I say it, not surprising in Dundee. Along with the Jute & Jam, there was also the Journalism, which produced and brought many good artists/sketchers/cartoonists to the city (Joseph Lee, et al). So to produce a pamphlet like this, there was quite a bit of local talent. The city had three main news papers (The Courier & Argus, The Dundee People's Journal, and The Dundee Advertiser), so there was plenty employment for this skill. Publications like this, containing sketches, rhymes, and poetry were quite popular & commonplace. The drawing of the turrets with the white and black cats facing each other could be quite significant - as this is a feature of a lot of Dundee’s mills/works, some of which can still be seen today. I might be wrong, but I get the feeling that I have seen this feature before. That said there was something in the region of 125 jute mills in the heyday of jute production, so if it takes a while to work out you can understand why :) .

As it was mentioned, here's a picture of Cox's Stack, taken early one morning, last year.

Also there's a bit about Cox's here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lochee

Aye

Tom McC

post-10175-1197107997.jpg

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John,

This is a brilliant little programme,

......... The drawing of the turrets with the white and black cats facing each other could be quite significant - as this is a feature of a lot of Dundee's mills/works, some of which can still be seen today. I might be wrong, but I get the feeling that I have seen this feature before.

......................

Aye

Tom McC

I too, thought the turrets familiar, but I also think there may be an in-joke here. I suspect that the reference is to turret lathes. A preset multi tool lathe suitable for semi-skilled, high volume production. I think the references on this page are all of this nature. On the back end, on a particular section or process. I'll bet there was a front end as well. The front cover is signed The Birkhill artist. Not known to me but I will enquire. When I visit Dundee at holidays etc. I live in Birkhill and so will make enquiries from some of the older residents.

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Glad to have assisted again even if very illuminating in my opinion while there are reams of shelves on battalion histories still being published and while local history due to the influence of post-1945 social historians do exist for the war there still seems to be in as history immersed society such as Great Britain a dearth of basic knowledge of what happened during the war locally. Dundee is just one example it seems to me of a major industrialized city during a war that must have been very active socially in the war effort (typical of the whole Empire?) yet the historical record since these organizations and people were after all PRIVATE or PERSONAL are woefully incomplete and scattered unlike the convenience of state military organizations with corporate records etc.... To some this last makes researching munition companies, home front events and the like very intriguing and I hope that by posting the program I have cast a spotlight on what is generally overlooked in the mass media: the home front.

Keep researching this factory - odd isn't it that a national shell factory's location is still not knownn locally! Let us hope that GWF members and others pin down with certainty ALL the Dundee munition factories, what they produced exactly etc....

Local records including city directories, assessment rolls, and the like will help as will of course the old paper copies of newspapers (oh how the digital age has spoiled us researchers! :rolleyes:

John

Toronto

P.S. As a Canadian though I can hardly talk about lack of local awareness of ww1 sites etc.... Barely ANYONE knows (outside of a handful of military historians and buffs and some local historians) Canadian home front ww1 sites. Here in Toronto the military industrial complex that was in the city's ww1 industrial heart is being torn down to make way for condos etc.... Cities such as Halifax, N.S. are different simply becaue their long standing direct associations with major military installations etc...are akin to British historical geography or industrial archaelogical sites in the UK.

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There is also a good picture of the 4th Bat Black Watch boarding the train at Tay Bridge station en route to France on the 23rd Feb 1915.

regards

Ian

Any chance of you posting this Ian?

Neil

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Glad to have assisted again ................

John

Toronto

...........

John you have certainly brought my attention to an aspect of the Great War which I had never considered. If asked, I would have said that Dundee made sand bags and was a major submarine base for North Sea, end of story. The local folk history, if you will, is fixed mainly on the local regiment, the Black Watch. 4th Btn. from the city and 5th Btn from the surrounding county of Angus. I would be surprised if the records are not there in the City archives but they need to be searched by an informed researcher for a particular aspect of history. The industrial history of WW1 may not have the same romantic attraction as the 13th and 14 century Wars of Independence. William Wallace started his career while attending school in Dundee. If Hollywood were to make a film about a munitions worker, perhaps we would see greater interest. I 'd like to hear a Hollywood attempt at a Dundonian accent.

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John you have certainly brought my attention to an aspect of the Great War which I had never considered. If asked, I would have said that Dundee made sand bags and was a major submarine base for North Sea, end of story. The local folk history, if you will, is fixed mainly on the local regiment, the Black Watch. 4th Btn. from the city and 5th Btn from the surrounding county of Angus. I would be surprised if the records are not there in the City archives but they need to be searched by an informed researcher for a particular aspect of history. The industrial history of WW1 may not have the same romantic attraction as the 13th and 14 century Wars of Independence. William Wallace started his career while attending school in Dundee. If Hollywood were to make a film about a munitions worker, perhaps we would see greater interest. I 'd like to hear a Hollywood attempt at a Dundonian accent.

Nicely put Tom. Cultural priorites changed don't they? Just look at the nearly mini-skirted lass from March 1918! :blush::rolleyes::)

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Neil,

From Dundee at Work by Janice Murray published by Alan Sutton

post-16112-1197142617.jpg

regards

Ian

Ian,

That is a great photo, showing "Dundees Own" leaving in good order.

Tom

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It is, just wondering which one is my Great Uncle.

Thanks Ian

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Tom R,

Good deduction about the lathes, I was aware of the policy of 'dilution' which caused a great deal of disgruntlement of skilled tradesman. I notice a lot of the machinery was shipped in from the states and was designed to be simple to use and fast, so ideal for mass production. So possibly the turrets have more of a meaning (although very Dundee mill-like), than representing an actual factory or works.

John G,

I think like most Dundonians we are aware of the most obvious, possibly because every British soldier on the front has filled or leant against, a bag made in Dundee. Dont know about the French and Belgian areas, but possibly on their frontage too, there are sand bags made in Dundee. The shipbuilding and whaling were other obvious industries. There was always light-engineering and tool makers, but not really having an interest in the munitions - until this post - I have not really considered it. However, now that you have started this thread (which I'm really pleased with), it has nurtured my curiosity, and so I will have a look in the library next time I'm up in Dundee, or have a look when I'm next at the NA. It's a great and interesting thread John so thank you!

Ian,

Brilliant, thanks for posting the photo of the 4th. This must be the 1st of three groups, they left about tea time 1700-ish (3.15 on the clock). The photos later on showed them wearing great coats and I thought puttees, which made me wonder if this was the 5th BW. The later photos must have been the 2nd and 3rd groups.

Neil,

It does make you wonder doesn't it, and also, how many of those in the photo made it back unharmed?

Aye

Tom McC

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Gentlemen,

I have now consulted with the guru of Dundee, i.e. my old man. Born and brought up in Cleppington road and having worked over 60 years in the local engineering industry I thought he may have some thoughts on the location of our munition works. Apparently there was another entrance to the works just before Dens road (ie the part where the new houses are). He knows that in the late thirties and until probably the 60's this building was occupied by an engineering company called Ransom and Marles(sp). They specialised in the manufacture of ball races and ball bearings and they had several premises throughout the country with their headquarters in the black country, probably Coventry. The reason that my Dad knows a bit about this place is that my grandfather's (he was also an engineer) apprentice went to work there in the time between his finishing his training and going to Burma. This apprentice Willie Shepherd, although now a elderly gentleman in his late 80's, is still with us so if I get the chance and depending on his health I may be able to ask him a bit more about this place. I asked my father about the address and he said that where large mill buildings were involved there was often anomalies and it may be that some of various departments of the works were actually given seperate numbers corresponding to the position in Mains Road. i am now inclined to think that this is the factory in question.

regards

Ian

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Ian and Tom: Thanks for your contributions and efforts and kind comments. I am very pleased that I can stimulate interest in a hitherto neglected area of research: home front munitions and industrial archaeology (versus battlefield archaeology). I do hope that in the coming weeks (or sooner?:)) that someone will definitely establish the factory in question where these bonnie lasses worked and for which they had their March 1918 staff social along with other stuff. Believe it or not in late 1917 a Toronto firm produced a hardbound book with several colour plates showing the different shells they made! Same firm also gave out a GOLD medal to about 250 (or less) long time working female only munition workers (sorry I have never seen this medal!).

John

Toronto

I would not be surprised if the Dundee National Shell Factory also produced other literature and awards for their staffs.

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Nice photo. A compartment train I notice. No toilets. Terriers were still going to summer camp in these in the 50's. Every couple of hours, the train would be diverted in to a siding and everyone jumped out. That of course, was 4/5th.

There were lots of those little engineering companies in old warehouses which is why I suggested it earlier. I remember the one you mention. Bonar Longs who had an enormous factory on Kingsway, making industrial transformer equipment, started in the same way in an unused part of Baxters. T C Keay I remember well in North Isla Streeet. All the mill and factory machinery required a host of ancillary engineering. Some inhouse but much undertaken by specialist engineering shops.

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Thanks Toms for your localized input. However I still think that the Ministry of Munitions archives at Kew will be the central starting point. There must be periodic lists even published ministerial internal lists of inspectors, the factories where they were stationed or were responsible for, periodic lists of contracts and the particulars including amounts etc....

John

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I remember the one you mention. Bonar Longs who had an enormous factory on Kingsway, making industrial transformer equipment, started in the same way in an unused part of Baxters. T C Keay I remember well in North Isla Streeet. All the mill and factory machinery required a host of ancillary engineering. Some inhouse but much undertaken by specialist engineering shops.

My old man started in T.C. Keay as an office boy, trained as a fitter and then went to the Bell st Tech FOUR nights a week to become an Engineer. One of his first jobs once his apprenticeship was finished was the setting out of spinning machines in a mill off Brown st. Some thirty years later as a third year apprentice Q.S. one of my first jobs was to measure up the same factory for refurbishment works.It was still the same machines and they were second hand when my Father laid them out!! T.C. Keay was well known to the footballl going public situated as it was behind the terracing at Dens Park. Even years after the company's demise that Terrace was always known as the T.C.Keay end. They have recently started to build flats on the site.

regards

Ian

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Gentlemen,

The National Factories Controlled by the Ministry of Munitions, June 1915-November 1918 in Chronological Order of Establishment list gives the following two entries for Dundee:

1:

Factory

Dundee, Graham Street ANG

Type

HMEF* (*HMEF = H.M. Explosive Factory)

Start Date

May 1915

First Output

-

Output

Producing acetate of lime by wood distillation

Control

Direct Control

2:

Factory:

Dundee, 51-63 Mains Road ANG

Type

NSF* (*NSF = National Shell Factory)

Start Date

Jun 1915

First Output

Sep 1915

Output

18-pdr. and 2.75-in shell; forgings; burster containers

Control

Board of Management

For those interested in areas other than Dundee, the entire list of factories controlled by the Ministry of Munitions may be viewed here:

MoMFactories

ciao,

GAC

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