Barnbow Factory Memorial Cross Gates

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Barnbow Factory Memorial Cross Gates, Leeds.

The original monument was removed during the demolition of the toilet block that used to stand near
to this site. It has been replaced with the monument pictured below and lists the names of the workers
who lost their lives at the Barnbow Factory in the Great war.
(Photographed and Transcribed by Steve Miller 22 Mar 2003)

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[Brass plaque mounted on Centre Stone]
IN MEMORY OF
THE BARNBOW SHELL FACTORY
WORKERS
WHO LOST THEIR LIVES DURING
THE
1914-1918 WAR

The name of each worker is listed on brass plaque. these plaques run in a linear fashion round the
kerb edges and in front of the three large stones.


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Elizabeth MASON
Ada GLASSBY
James McHALE
Florence HODGKINS

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Olive YEATES
Edith LEVITT
M. HEYWORTH
Katie CHAPMAN

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Mary GIBSON
James S. THOMPSON
Florence WHITELEY
Alice SMART

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William ORANGE
Polly BOOTH
Amelia STEWART
Mary CARTER

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H. BAINBRIDGE
Elsie Martha ATKINSON
Eliza WEST
Mary SCHOFIELD

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Elsie BRUCE
Jennie BLACKAMORE
M. ALDERSON
Emily SEDGWICK

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Jane FEW
Ethel JACKSON
Mary Jane BLACKSTONE
Charlotte FOX

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Kathleen EASTMENT
Mary Evelyn ROWLEY
Ida WORSLOP
Eliza GRANT

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Sarah Ann JENNINGS
Lilian ELLIS
Helena BECKETT
Maggie BARKER

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Agnes POWER
Gertrude REID
Mary WORTLEY
Edith SYKES

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Roll of Honour
Workers of the No 1. National Filling Factory, Crossgates, Leeds.
Who Lost Their Lives in the Explosion.
5th December 1916.

  • Ethel JACKSON, ILS Inspector, Leeds
  • M. KEYWORTH, ILS Inspector, Leeds
  • M. ALDERSON, Leeds
  • Katie CHAPMAN, Leeds
  • Gertrude REID, Leeds
  • Agnes L. POWER, Leeds
  • Elsie Martha ATKINSON, Leeds
  • Mary C. SCHOFIELD, Leeds
  • Florence WHITELEY, Leeds
  • Amelia STEWART, Leeds
  • K. BAINBRIDGE, Leeds
  • Edith SYKES, Leeds
  • Ida WORSOP, Leeds
  • Mary Jane BLACKSTONE, Leeds
  • Helena BECKETT, Pontefract
  • June, FEW, Pontefract
  • Emily SEDGWICK, Harrogate
  • Maggie BARKER, Kippax
  • Kathleen EASTMENT, York
  • Mary WORLLEY, York
  • Alice SMART, York
  • Sarah Ann JENNINGS, York
  • Mary E. CARTER, York
  • Elizabeth MASOB, York
  • Lilian ELLIS, York
  • Olive YEATES, York
  • Charlotte FOX, York
  • Eliza WEST, York
  • Maria Evelyn ROWLEY, Halton
  • Ada GLASSBY, Harrogate
  • Jennie BLACKAMORE, Normanton
  • Mary GIBSON, Castleford
  • Polly BOOTH, Castleford
  • Eliza GRANT, Castleford
  • Edith LEVITT, Castleford

21st March 1917

  • Florence A. R. HODGKINS, Normanton
  • Elsie BRUCE, Wakefield

31st May 1918

  • James S. THOMPSON, Harrogate
  • William ORANGE, Leeds
  • James McHALE, Leeds

THEY DIED SERVING.

Contents

BARNBOW LASSES - Manston Park

The following information boards and memorial is situated in Manston Park Leeds.

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THE BARNBOW LASSES

Their Courage and Sacrifice Will Not Be Forgotten

ROLL OF HONOUR

Workers on the No1 National Filling Factory, Crossgates, Leeds. Who lost their lives in the explosions, 5th December 1916.

  • ETHEL JACKSON, ILS Inspector, Leeds
  • M. KEYWORTH, ILS Inspector, Leeds
  • M. ALDERSON, Leeds
  • KATIE CHAPMAN, Leeds
  • GERTRUDE REID, Leeds
  • AGNES L. POWER, Leeds
  • ELSIE MARTHA ATKINSON, Leeds
  • MARY E SCHOFIELD, Leeds
  • FLORENCE WHITELEY, Leeds
  • AMELIA STEWART, Leeds
  • K BAINBRIDGE, Leeds
  • EDITH SYKES, Leeds
  • IDA WORSLOP, Leeds
  • MARY JANE BLACKSTONE, Leeds
  • HELENA BECKETT, Pontefract
  • JANE FEW, Pontefract
  • EMILY SEDGWICK, Harrogate
  • KATHLEEN EASTMENT, York
  • MAY WORTLEY, York
  • ALICE SMART, York
  • SARAH ANN JENNINGS, York
  • MARY E CARTER, York
  • ELIZABETH MASON, York
  • LILIAN ELLIS, York
  • OLIVE YEATES, York
  • CHARLOTTE FOX, York
  • ELIZA WEST, York
  • MARIA EVELYN ROWLEY, Halton
  • ADA GLASSBY, Harrogate
  • JENNIE BLACKAMORE, Normanton
  • MARY GIBSON, Castleford
  • POLLY BOOTH, Castleford
  • ELIZA GRANT, Castleford
  • EDITH LEVITT, Castleford
  • MAGGIE BARKER, Kippax

21st March 1917

  • FLORENCE A. R. HODGKINS, Normanton
  • ELSIE BRUCE, Wakefield

31st May 1919

  • JAMES S. THOMPSON, Harrogate
  • WILLIAM ORANGE, Leeds
  • JAMES McHALE, Leeds

THEY DIED SERVING

This Memorial was officially unveiled in December 2012 by Councillor KEITH WAKEFIELD, Leader of the Leeds City Council, Councillor PAULEEN GRAHAME, GEMMA DAVY (descendant of JANE SWIFT), and GRAHAM SYKES (nephew of EDITH SYKES). Many thanks to BOB and JACKI LAWRENCE, and East Leeds History and Archaelogoy Society for their help and support.

The Barnbow Lasses (Memorial Information - Manston Park)

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'GIRLS THAT MADE THE SHELLS' - (Above Information Notice Reads)


Shells, shells and more shalls
In 1914, the most wide-spread and devastating war broke out between opposing countries in Europe. It lasted over four years and became known as 'The Great War'. It was a conflict that pitted old technology against new technology; men against machine guns and horses against armoured cards and tanks. It was the first time that aeroplanes were used to drop bombs on troops and airships attacked civilians on the British mainland in their own homes.

On July 1st 1916 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 58,000 British troops were either killed or injured. In order to win the war, British industry had to produce millions of tonnes of shells for the guns that pointed at our enemies, and all the young, able-bodied men either colunteered or were conscripted into the armed forces. So the women of Britain went to war in factories and mills and on production lines and learned new and deadly trades.

The No 1 Filling Factory was built on land at Manston, on 400 acres of agricultural land that saw a hive of activity and production from August 1916 until the guns fell silent on November 11th 1918. 36 million breach-loaded charges had been filled, 25 million shells had been filled and over 19 million shells had been fused and packed. 566,000 tons of finished ammunition was shipped overseas for the war effort. None of the 'lasses' or their male co-workers ever went on strike. Very few of them took a holiday for over three years. They worked six days a week, an eight hour day on one of three round the clock shifts. In many cases, the amatol and other chemicals turned their hair and skin yellow and made them ill. The Barnbow Lasses, like the other thousands of munition workers around Britain, were nicknamed 'canaries' after the little yellow birds that sing so sweetly. When the factory first opened, none of the rooms where TNT was used, had a ventilation system. This was put in after a few months, but before then, women were not allowed to work there for more than two consecutive weeks, because of the risk to their health.

'the business of an explosive is to explode'

On December 5th 1916 in Room 42 a 4.5" shell which was having its fuse screwed in place, exploded. Other shells nearby also blew up. The building was destroyed and 35 women lost their lives, many more being injured. A second explosion on March 21st 1917 killed another two woman and on May 31st 1918 a third explosion killed three men.

Thanks to the East Leeds History and Archaeology Society and Councillor Pauleen Grahame for their support and help with this memorial.

FIRST WORLD WAR and BARNBOW LASSES timeline (Memorial Information - Manston Park)

1914
Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. Germany declares war on Russia and France. Germany invades Belgium and Great Britain declares war on her August 4th. Thousands of men volunteer to 'fight the hun'

1915
German submarines blockade Britain. In August the Manston site is created the No1 Shell Filling Factory, one of the many that supplied millions of tons of ammunition to British troops.

1916
At the Battle of Verdun 700,00 French and German troops are killed. Continuous filling of shells begins at Manston. On 5th December, 35 women are killed in an explosion at the factory, includes Edith Sykes (above).

1917
The United States declares war on Germany. On the Western Front in the battles of Arras and Ypres, hundreds of thousands of men die. On 21st March another 2 women are killed in a second explosion at the factory.

1918
Allied troops stop the German advance. On 31st May three men die in the third explosion at the factory. On November 11th at 11am the guns fell silent. The war was over.

MEMORIES (Memorial Information - Manston Park)

A thousand new inventions helped soldiers to kill the enemy on both sides more efficiently than ever before and in staggering numbers.

left: British artillery rounds personalised to those who killed Captain FRYATTS.

Below: The British Howitzer could fire shells of 900kg over 18 km

Around 17,000 people, almost all of them women, worked at Barnbow.

Above: Female firefighters worked at the Barnbow Factory

Left: Men and women worked alongside each other.

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SHELL FILLING AT BARNBOW.

The following extract is from "Leeds in the Great War", 1914-1918, A Book of Remembrance, by William Herbert SCOTT, with a foreword by, A. J. GRANT, Professor of History in the University of Leeds.

"Not once or twice in our fair island story, The path of duty was the way to glory"


No sooner had the Armley Ordnance Factory started operations than its promoters decided to carry the work a stage further by setting up a filling factory. To this end an independent Directing Board was appointed under the chair- manship of Mr. Joseph Watson (afterwards Lord Manton). The other members of the Board—all Leeds Citizens—were Mr. T. L. Taylor (deputy- chairman), the Hon. Rupert Beckett, Mr. Bernal Bagshawe, Mr. Arthur G. Lupton, and Major G. Yewdall(secretary). In A ugust, 1916, they selected a site and let contracts for the new works, and before Christmas a start had been made with shell filling.

The undertaking was one of the largest of its kind in the kingdom. First of all, it involved the acquisition of some 400 acres of farm land at Barnbow, between Crossgates and Garforth on the outskirts of the city, where every possible convenience had to be provided ab initio. Roads, trolley tracks, railways connecting with the adjoining North Eastern system, gas, water and electricity supplies, sanitation all these and other auxiliary services had to be provided in addition to long ranges of factory buildings. Nevertheless, such was the progress made that in the course of a few months, namely, in April, 1916, the first section of the Amatol plant was completed, and 4.5 shells were being filled, the output thereafter soon rising to 6,000 shells a day. Meanwhile, the buildings requisite for the manufacture of cartridges had been erected and brought into use, and a little later a breech loading extension and a box factory were built, together with a second Amatol factory. To these structures, in due course, others were added, until eventually the trans- formed fields of Barnbow had a roof area of 127,000 square feet.

TRIUMPHS OF INDUSTRY.

"Assembly" rooms, component stores, explosive magazines, fuse and game rooms, finished ammunition magazines, a big melting house building, a huge press factory, canteen and administration buildings, bulk stores, guard rooms, and so forth, all went to the making of this hive of industry which, when work was in full swing, in 1917 and 1918, with its host of workers and its efficient services, resembled nothing so much as a well ordered small manufacturing town.

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In the official record of this enterprise—" The Story of Barnbow "—the present writer has already narrated in detail how successfully the work was carried on, and what remarkable results were achieved. It may, however, be well here to note a few of the statistics collected by Mr. R. H. Gummer, the chief engineer, and embodied in the above mentioned book. Not far short of six million bricks, and 5,400 tons of cement were used on the buildings. The service mains (water, sewage, and fire) wound in and out all over the place for a distance of 33 miles. The electric power and distributing cables extended for 28 1/2 miles, and the steam and hot water piping for 60 miles. There were 13 - miles of wide gauge railway track and there were ten miles of narrow trolley track. At one period, when activities were at their height, over 16,000 workers were employed, some 93 per cent. being women and girls.

WOMAN'S INDUSTRY AND COURAGE.

Female labour predominated. Even the loading and storing of the various explosives, also, towards the last, the unloading of coal, was done by women and girls. Only male labour, however, was employed on the heaviest manual tasks, such as the breaking up of the ammonium nitrate, and the duties of shunters, engine men, boilermen, and the like. About one-third of the women came from Leeds, and for the convenience of these, and the workers from outlying places, 38 special trains were run daily. There was no lack of candidates for the many risky tasks which had to be performed. No fewer than 130,000 female applicants were interviewed. It was not until the summer of 1917 that the number of operatives substantially declined, and then only because the scheme of operations had become more systematic and effective.

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When the work finished in November 1918, it was recorded, among other striking statistics, that over 36,000,000 breech loading cartridges had been charged and nearly 25,000,000 shells filled, apart from 19,250,000 shells completed with fuses and packed in boxes, making a grand total of 566,000 tons of finished ammunition despatched overseas. Of 18-pounder shells alone, 9,250,000 were dealt with—enough, if laid end to end, to measure as far as from London to New York, a distance of 3,200 miles.

This enormous output would not have been possible had not every contingency been carefully thought out beforehand, and due arrangements made for the expeditious performance of duties and for ready transport, together with precautions against accident and measures for the health, feeding, clothing, and comfort of the thousands who were engaged on the operations.

That it was dangerous work was unfortunately demonstrated on three occasions. The first and most serious explosion took place on the night of December 5th, 1916, in one of the fusing rooms. A shell placed in position on one of the machines used for screwing in the fuse suddenly burst and affected other projectiles close at hand, with the immediate result that 35 young women were killed. But for the sandbags and protecting shields which were in regular use the disaster would have been much more serious. Naturally, great alarm was caused throughout the factory at the time, nevertheless work was continued courageously, and not only so, but within a few hours girls were found volunteering to work in the very room where the accident happened. The actual cause of the mishap could only be conjectured. Part of the fuse was supposed to be faulty. But it was not one that had been made in Leeds. Although the censorship forbade publication of this item of news, and the matter therefore became exaggerated in local gossip, it travelled quickly to the British battle front and, without reference to the locality, was cited by the Commander-in-Chief in a special Order of the Day as a splendid example of the loyalty and determination with which munition workers were helping towards victory.

Barnbow's second explosion occurred about three months later, causing the death of two girls, and the third on May 31st, 1918, when three men were killed, ten others sustained injury, and one of the mixing sheds was wrecked. The shift was being changed at the time, otherwise the casualties might have been greater. This last accident happened on the day when the King and Queen were visiting Leeds, and His Majesty at once telephoned sympathetic inquiries, which were followed by a gracious gift of flowers for the injured from Queen Mary. Happily, all three disasters were restricted in effect by the pre- cautionary measures taken. If Barnbow had blown up to any extent there would probably have been very few windows left unshattered in Leeds. Risky work indeed ! Think only of the enormous tonnage of explosive substances that had to be handled! At the Amatol factory 12,000 tons of T.N.T. were incorporated with 26,350 tons of ammonium nitrate to form the high explosive known as Amatol. In the cartridge factory more than 61,000 tons of propellant (N.C.T. and cordite) were made into breech-loading charges. And all this dangerous material had to be weighed on scales in ounces and drachms.

But, as already indicated, all available means were adopted in order to ensure a reasonable degree of safety. There was a fire brigade, the equipment including a specially constructed reser- voir of 300,000 gallons of water; there was a steam siren to sound an alarm; there were sprinklers and drenchers attached to the magazines; there were fireproof doors and protective earth- works. Elaborate arrangements, too, were made for warming and ventilating the workshops, and eliminating the danger of poisoning; and, in general, by the provision of medical and nursing services, the health and comfort of everyone about the place received full attention. Similarly, in the matter of food supplies and catering, the huge canteens were equipped with every convenience and labour saving appliance. Barnbow even had a milk supply from its own cows, its slaughter-house and butcher's shop, its bacon factory, and vegetables from its own kitchen gardens.

TEXTILE REQUISITES AND ORGANISATION.

No small part of the organisation of this gigantic enterprise was concerned with textile wares, of which immense quantities were used in the process of manufacturing munitions. For example, nearly 87,000,000 cartridge bags and 26,000,000 exploder bags had to be handled, and these requisites, as well as the smaller components, were made almost entirely in Leeds. The textile stores occupied six acres of floor space at four warehouse premises in Wellington Street, Leeds, and thus constituted a separate department, which, by the way, formed the main distributing centre for all the filling factories in the kingdom. Here, among other things, the Directing Board's staff dealt with well over 27 million yards of textile materials in the piece, nearly 142 million yards of braids and tapes, 150 tons of sewing threads, and 9,354 tons of millboard and strawboard, etc. This branch of work, under the special direction of Mr. A. G. Lupton, also gave employment to the local printing trade, and it led, incidentally, to the introduction of a new system of printing on the bag material.

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From end to end of the extensive range of factory buildings activity was the order of the day and the night alike. Heavily-laden railway trucks coming and going constantly ; motor lorries bringing supplies from outlying stores ; magazines and stores continually being fed and, in turn, disgorging their contents for purpose of manufacture—such was the daily condition of affairs while, all the time, busy hands and deft machinery fulfilled their allotted and essential tasks. Nearly every day scores of train-loads of ammunition were marshalled and despatched. In the year 1916 some 150 trucks a day were handled, and before the autumn of 1918 came that number had more than quadrupled.

The general management, as may be guessed, imposed no light responsibility. At least once a month the Directing Board met to review the position disclosed in reports presented by the heads of departments, but apart from that, there was individual attention given by the members, two of whom were in daily attendance from the time work started in 1915 until the Armistice was signed in November, 1918. It was no wonder that, as a result of this enterprise, resourcefulness and industry, the cost of producing ammunition at Barnbow was found to compare favourably with any other factory in the Kingdom. That this was so was due not only to the thoroughness of the work, but in no small measure to the useful economies effected, as, for instance, the saving of £12,000 by the sale of waste material and the utilisation of scrap.

Barnbow, in short, maintained to the last its reputation as the premier National Shell-Filling Factory, helped in notable fashion to win the war, and reflected the greatest credit on its Leeds origin and the business men and workers who were at the back of it.

Yorkshire Evening Post - Thursday 7th December 1916

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Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 29 April 1925

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WOMEN'S WAR MEMORIAL IN YORK MINSTER

THE BARNBOW EXPLOSIONS.

The Invitation to the relatives of women munition workers who were killed at the Barbnow shell-filling factory during the war to attend the unveiling, on June 24, by the Duchess of York, of the Five Sisters Window in York Minister - which has been restored as a memorial of all the women on the Empire who lost their lives in the war - recalls the fact that explosions occurred on three separate occasions at Barnbow while work was in progress, involving the loss of 40 lives - 37 women and three men - in addition to which many workers were injured, some seriously.

The first and most serious explosion was on the night of December 5, 1916, when 35 women and girls were killed; the second on March 21, 1917, when two women were killed; and the third on the afternoon of May 31, 1918, when three men lost their lives.

As the addresses of many of the Barnbow workers are not available we publish the names of the 37 women who lost their linves in the first two explosions in the hope that the attention of relatives may be drawn to the unveiling ceremony in York Minister, tickets for which may be obtained from the hon. secretaties, Women's War Memorial. The Assembly Rooms, York.

Leeds - Ethel Jackson and M. Keyworth, I.L.S.Inspectors; M. Alderson, Katie Chapman, Gertrude Reid, Agnes. L. Power, Elsie Martha Atkinson, Mary E. Schofield, Florence Whiteley, Amelia Stewart, K. Bainbridge, Edith Sykes, Ida Worslop and Mary Jane Blackstone.
York - Kathleen Eastment, May Wortley, Alice Smart, Sarah Jane Jennings, Mary E. Carter, Elizabeth Mason, Lilian Ellis, Olive Yeates, Charlotte Fox, and Eliza West.
Harrogate - Emily sedgwick and Ada Glassby
Pontefract - Helena Beckett and Jane Few.
Wakefield - Elsie Bruce.
Castleford - Mary Gibson, Polly Booth, Eliza Grant and Edith Levitt.
Normanton - Jennie Blackamore and Florence A. R. Hodgkins.
Kippax - Maggie Barker.
Halton - Maria Evelyn Rowley.

REFERENCES