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Remembered Today:

Dundee National Shell Factory Staff Social March 9, 1918


John Gilinsky
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Checking online British Library, IWM, National Archives in Kew you will come across diverse publications from the Ministry of Munitions 1915 to 1919. This past summer I survey IMB Canada papers in the Ottawa National Archives and found localized printed lists etc.... I am sure that in England and other parts of Great Britain this and even more publications were produced giving great details.

John

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Well, given that on top of that fascinating Staff Social booklet from 1918 which focusses on the workforce, we also now know the location of the factory, that it was set up in June 1915, and produced its first output in September of that year, and that that output consisted of '18-pdr. and 2.75-in shell; forgings; burster containers', and that the factory ran until 1918, it's difficult to imagine what else of real significance could be learned? Anyone who worked there is long gone, so unless some reminiscences taken down years ago exist in local archives..........

ciao,

GAC

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That is unless you want to know how an 18 Pdr shell is made and how many operations it takes to produce one.

John

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That is unless you want to know how an 18 Pdr shell is made and how many operations it takes to produce one.

John

True - but getting that info doesn't require a trawl through the archives, it's readily available on the web and in published books. Nor would these procedures to produce an 18 Pdr shell be unique to the Dundee factory, of course.

ciao,

GAC

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Here in Canada does anyone recognize the stupendous industrial changes speeded up or altered by the impact of what became the biggest employer in Canada during the war: The Imperial Munitions Board Canada? Likewise we do not even know for sure the actual location and history of the Dundee National Shell Factory in Scotland. Shocking! :o

In the scans if you revisit them you will clearly see not only a talented artist but a good deal of social commentary: changing roles of women, changing social expectations of public behaviour for women, industrial health or occupational safety which women reinforced,etc...... In short there is much social history rather than strictly speaking military history but this last point should not dissuade researchers. WWI armies were of course mass conscript forces or civilians in uniforms. I do hope we will see someone be able to verify the factory location(s), its history, etc.....

John

Toronto

Canada

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Likewise we do not even know for sure the actual location and history of the Dundee National Shell Factory in Scotland. Shocking! :o

Not sure why you think that, John. The Ministry of Munitions List confirms the precise addresses of the two Dundee factories, with the one in question being:

'Dundee, 51-63 Mains Road ANG[uS]'. Photographs of what contemporary buildings remain at that location have been added to the thread, so it's difficult to see what mystery about the location remains?

In the scans if you revisit them you will clearly see not only a talented artist but a good deal of social commentary: changing roles of women, changing social expectations of public behaviour for women, industrial health or occupational safety which women reinforced,etc...... In short there is much social history rather than strictly speaking military history but this last point should not dissuade researchers. WWI armies were of course mass conscript forces or civilians in uniforms. I do hope we will see someone be able to verify the factory location(s), its history, etc.....

This I entirely agree with, and have already noted what a fascinating document the Shell Factory Social leaflet is. It could certainly form part of an interesting study which places it in the context of the wider social changes at work at the time - and some of these themes of the war's impact upon the home front workplaces in Scotland are touched upon in books such as Trevor Royle's The Flowers of the Forest: Scotland and the First World War (2006). But as to your final sentence - I think the location of the factory has been verified.

ciao,

GAC

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As they say in real estate the world over: LOCATION, LOCATION and LOCATION! :lol:

We have a transcription from presumably a contemporary listing or directory showing an address but the picutres on this thread show what appear to be very light industrial (older) and possibly even housing at the site. Exactly what plans (such as municipal tax assessment rolls and the like) exist to show WHERE and WHAT the factory actually consisted of? Also the name(s) of the former plant(s) or factories and the post-war history so that one can see relationships between local and national interests and peace time and war time interests. Thanks for your kind comments about how fascinating you find the social aspects of this 4 page Dundee Scotland homebrewed ephemera.

John

Toronto

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Hi John. perhaps the locals are seeing more in the pictures than is actually there and are unconsciously filling in the gaps. Bear with me while I try to set out explicitly what we know. If I make a mistake, there is a first time for everything :P , I know it will be soon corrected. The National Shell Factory was housed in pre existing factory buildings. These were part of a Jute Mill and after the war, were returned to their original purpose. The buildings survived for decades and indeed were still standing long after WW2. I could take you to a specific spot in Dundee and point out where the NSF had been. Graham Street is a different matter and most of that was, at the time, open fields off to the north of Clepington Road. That would fit with a small factory making explosives. The most intriguing thing about all this, is that I had never heard of either building.

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Thanks. I suppose conducting research into the Imperial Munitions Board Canada materials in the National Archives in Ottawa spoiled me somewhat since I live in the neighbourhood of Toronto that bordered directly onto the city's downtown industrial heart. Thus I am used to national, provincial and local records being fairly accessible if disorganized and incomplete of course. I have used company, commercial and corporate records to try to find out what was going on before, during and after these companies munitions' histories during especially the Great War(ww1). I simply presumed :rolleyes: that most of the major military installations, hospitals, munitions factories, barracks, training grounds and the like would be fairly well known at least locally. I do not wish to go off on a tangent here about how the Great War will be perceived locally in its industrial or historical archaeological sites (eg. how French farmers on the Somme will see the Battle say in 20 or 50 years from now) but clearly there is great universal interest in the before and after situation of most things associated with the Great War. Living in the area (southern Ontario in Canada's largest city) helps of course! I think the imbalance between soldiers services and battalion histories with all the other social stuff (a rough analogy: the hardcore / hardware versus the softcore / software :huh: !)does distort how the war was experienced by the majority of persons in it: namely the people on the HOME FRONTS.

John

Toronto, Canada

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Oops sorry Tom in my last reply I meant to specifically refer of course to the MOTHER COUNTRY (i.e. Great Britain) rather than Canada or North America. Britain being history immersed and saturated we all I think get the impression that everyone must know everything there is about their local pub, hamlet, village, church, and of course Great War munitions factory! :lol:

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  • 5 weeks later...

Hi everyone,

At the danger of kicking off this stopic again I thought I'd post the photo below which gives an idea of the size of the building we were talking about. The photo is from a Scottish Cup game of 1955 between Dundee F.C.(light shirts) and Rangers. The shot is taken from the West goal and shows a scene which includes the south terrace. Behind the terrace there is a high roofed building. This is the building we have been discussing and the one that stood where the new housing now is. The western gable at the foot of Main street is just past the right hand margin of the photo. More impotantly, the drop behind to street level is at leat twice the distance between the top of the terrace and the pitch so it can be seen that this was a very tall building unlike the lower existing sections that I photographed earlier.

post-16112-1200355325.jpg

regards

Ian

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Thanks Ian for your consideration and the nice soccer (er sorry football!) photo from the mid-1950's.

John

Toronto

Anyone else have other photos showing this building pre-1955?

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Hi All,

Ian,

The picture of the 4th Black Watch from 'Dundee at Work': something did not quite ring true about it. I think it possibly is the 4th Black Watch, however, I do not reckon they are off to the front. Just reading through my notes, they received the Lee-Enfield SMLE in the February along with an issue of ammunition before deploying to France. The men in the photo still have the long Lee-Enfield rifle. It was cold and they were wearing greatcoats, the men in the photo are not. The photo on the thread about Joe Lee shows WLA, J B Nicholson wearing puttees, the men in this photo are wearing the old khaki spats. The time of the first train leaving was 5.15 p.m. having not got to the train station till the back o' four, the clock shows 3.15. It isn't the 5th Black Watch as they left early in the morning.

I think this photo is some of the 4th going to their war stations or to Buddon from Bell Street. They could possibly even be going to Monzie camp, earlier in July 1914.

Hope this helps

Aye

Tom McC

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  • 2 years later...
Checking online British Library, IWM, National Archives in Kew you will come across diverse publications from the Ministry of Munitions 1915 to 1919. This past summer I survey IMB Canada papers in the Ottawa National Archives and found localized printed lists etc.... I am sure that in England and other parts of Great Britain this and even more publications were produced giving great details.

John

Hello John,

just a passing thought, I have been reading the various post about the munition factories in my old Home town of Dundee and you may be interested in the post I entered back around the 12th Sept. last year. Many of the Jute mills and factories in Dundee were turned over to war production making everthing from webbing and uniforms to shell casings, even producing chemicals for bomb making. ie cordite. It amazes me that as I was growing up in the 50's all this stuff was going on around us. One of my strongest memories was the juste dust and fluff filling the air and the cionstant noise of the jutefactories all over-riden with the sound of the rivetters in the Caledon Shipyard where my father was Head foreman. I had uncles, cousins and two brothers all working there at one time or another. So this thread brings back a lot of memories. I dare say that Mr McCluskey woulld remember my Father George PEARSON, Wattie Robson, Mr Tipping Head Blacksmith (He was a geordie from Tyneside), John Wilkie and probably many others. Happy researching. Regards Alison

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  • 12 years later...

A little more information about the National Shell Factory at Dundee can be found on this web page;

https://war-work.com/dundee-national-shell-factory/

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