Great War Centenary

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Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright July 2016, John M; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
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Supporting the War Effort


As the scale and possible duration of the war unfolded the ability of the British Empire's manufacturers to supply and maintain the troops in the field with food, clothing, shells, weapons and other essentials was tested. The summer of 1915 was marked by a shell shortage with the Ministry of Munitions taking new powers to direct production.


SO9098 : Ashes Works - Pelham Street by John M SO9098 : Former Eagle Works in Wolverhampton by Roger  Kidd SO9197 : Star Car Works - Frederick Street by John M SO9198 : Sunbeamland - Paul Street by John M

Wolverhampton's manufacturing is typical of the diverse nature of production for the war effort. The initial response is slow as procurement by the military would have been through their existing suppliers and subject to contractual delay. It was not until 1915 and 1916 that most firms became fully engaged. It is interesting to note that when the United States entered the war that there was a similar drag before their manufacturing kicked into action.



SP3478 : St Anne and All Saints by Nigel Mykura canteen at Siddeley-Deasy

Coventry's firms were similar to those in Wolverhampton with Siddeley-Deasy manufacturing vehicles, aero engines and aircraft at their Park Side Works.

SP3480 : Red Lane Ordnance Works by Kevin Croucher SP3480 : Inside the Ordnance Works by Kevin Croucher SP3480 : Southern End of Red Lane Ordnance Works by Keith Williams

Coventry Ordnance Works produced auto-cannon, 5.5" naval cannon and 15" siege howitzers.

SP3478 : William Morris Building, Gosford Street, Coventry by John Brightley SP3478 : Coventry University, William Morris Building, Gosford Street by David Dixon

French munitions company Hotchkiss & Cie were invited by the British Government to establish a factory in 1915. Output comprised a version of the Hotchkiss 1909 light machine gun modified for .303" ammunition to be used for cavalry units, aircraft and tanks.


SP0984 : BSA Works, Armoury Road by Michael Westley BSA, Armoury Road, Smallheath
SP0985 : Former PH and industrial buildings by Michael Westley SP0985 : Industrial dereliction by N Chadwick BSA, Sparkbrook (former Royal Small Arms Factory bought in 1906)
The BSA factories produced bicycles, Lee Enfield rifles and Lewis machine-guns. With a workforce rising to 5000 by 1918 the company supplied over 1 million rifles and 145000 Lewis guns. In July 1915 the company was taken under direct control by the Ministry of Munitions.


SK9770 : Robey Works by Richard Croft SK9770 : Robey Works by Richard Croft SK9770 : Factory on Canwick Road by David Dixon Robey & Co (seaplanes)
SK9871 : Clayton & Shuttleworth offices by Richard Croft SK9871 : Stamp End Lock by Richard Croft SK9870 : Stamp End works by Richard Croft SK9870 : Clayton and Shuttleworth Titanic Works, Lincoln by Julian P Guffogg
Clayton & Shuttleworth (aircraft)
SK9670 : Ruston Works Building - Lincoln by Richard Humphrey SK9771 : Ruston's Factory - Waterside by Betty Longbottom Ruston & Co (aircraft and aero-engines)

Lincoln's firms produced large numbers of aircraft, aero-engines, tanks and munitons.


SE0925 : Dean Clough Mills, Halifax by Malc McDonald SE0825 : Dean Clough Mills by Chris Allen SE0825 : Dean Clough by Chris Allen SE0925 : Dean Clough, E Mill by Ian Paterson SE0825 : Travelodge, Dean Clough Office Park by Alexander P Kapp
John Crossley & Sons Ltd, Dean Clough Mills
Carpet making was badly hit as this was seen as a luxury item. Production was shifted to khaki yarn and 'millions of miles' of webbing. The firm also produced spun hemp and linen yarns for tents and aircraft covering fabric and blankets.


SE1416 : Chapel Street by Stephen Armstrong SE1416 : Thomas Broadbent & Sons Ltd, Queen Street South by Chris Allen SE1416 : Huddersfield - Thomas Broadbent Works by Dave Bevis SE1416 : Thomas Broadbent  and Sons Limited, Queen Street South by Jonathan Thacker SE1416 : Huddersfield - Thomas Broadbent Works by Dave Bevis Thomas Broadbent & Sons Ltd
The company produced centrifuges for the armaments industry, cranes and heavy lifting equipment including shell hoists for Orion-class battleships. From 1916 the firm made steel casings for 112lb aerial bombs.

Lydbrook, Gloucestershire

SO5817 : The Old Cable Works, Lydbrook by Stuart Wilding SO5817 : The Old Cable Works by Stuart Wilding SO5817 : The Old Cable Works by Stuart Wilding
The land for the cable works was bought by Harold Smith in 1912. During World War One it employed some 650 people, producing cable for the field telephones, 15000 miles of it was made.

Oldham, Lancashire

SD8903 : Ace Mill, Chadderton by Chris Allen SD9408 : Lilac Mill Shaw by Paul Anderson
Ace Mill completed in 1914 as Gorse No.2 Mill for P S Stott and Lilac Mill completed in 1918 were turned over to aircraft production in February 1918 to assemble American built Handley Page 0/400 bombers. The first parts arrived in August 1918 and by the Armistice on November 11th only 10 aircraft had been delivered from the 2000 ordered.

Manchester, Lancashire

SJ8399 : Manchester Ice Palace by Peter McDermott
The Ice Palace was closed in 1915 and used for the manufacture of observation balloons.


NS6064 : The Barras Shell by Thomas Nugent NS5865 : WWI Shell at Glasgow Central railway station by Thomas Nugent

Argyll Motor Works, Alexandria
NS3880 : Former Argyll Motor Works by Thomas Nugent NS3880 : The former Argyll Motor Works by Lairich Rig NS3880 : The former Argyll Motor Works by Lairich Rig Link

Cliffe Explosive Works, Hoo Peninsula, Kent
TQ7178 : Ruins of the explosives works, near Lower Hope Point (3): an alignment of posts by Stefan Czapski TQ7178 : Ruins of the explosives works, near Lower Hope Point (4) by Stefan Czapski TQ7178 : Derelict jetty on the Thames shore above Lower Hope Point by Stefan Czapski TQ7178 : Ruin In The marsh by Glyn Baker
TQ7178 : Ruins of the explosives works, Cliffe marshes by Stefan Czapski TQ7278 : Former Munitions Factory, Cliffe Marshes by Chris Whippet TQ7279 : Derelict munition factory buildings, Cliffe Marshes by N Chadwick TQ7278 : Military Ruin by Glyn Baker

Curtis's and Harvey's explosives factory on the site of an earlier gunpowder store on Cliffe Marshes started cordite production in 1901. By 1914 they were producing a wide range of explosives. A major expansion took place in 1916 when the factory became a 'Controlled Establishment' to meet the demand for ammunition for the Royal Navy.

Hooley Hill Rubber and Chemicals Factory, Ashton-under-Lyne
SJ9398 : Ashton Munitions Explosion Memorial by Gerald England

At 4.22pm on Wednesday 13 June 1917, 5 tons of TNT exploded killing 46 including children from the local school and injuring 400. Unusually for an explosives factory it was in a former cotton mill in an urban setting. The factory produced 25 tons of TNT per week.

Low Moor Munitions Company, Bradford
SE1627 : Wilson Road, Wyke by Humphrey Bolton SE1627 : Low Moor Munitions Company memorial by Stephen Craven

At 2.25pm on Monday 21 August 1916, a fire started in barrels of picric acid being unloaded into a magazine. The fire was not controlled and a series of explosions engulfed the works and adjacent gasworks with the loss of over forty lives including a fire-crew attending the blaze. The works produced 120-150 tons of picric acid per week and had stepped up production. LinkExternal link

The Gramophone Company, Hayes, Middlesex
TQ0979 : Former EMI headquarters, Hayes by Peter Clare TQ0979 : Gate 3, Blyth Road, Hayes by Des Blenkinsopp TQ0979 : Hayes Town: Enterprise House, Blyth Road by Nigel Cox TQ0979 : Back of buildings in Blyth Road, Hayes by Ray Stanton

The newly built HMV factory was turned over to munitions production as worldwide demand for gramophones slumped.

Marshall's, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire
SK8189 : Britannia Works by Richard Croft SK8189 : Marshall's Old Pattern Shop - Britannia Works by Betty Longbottom SK8189 : Gainsborough - Marshall's Pattern Store by Dave Bevis

The factory employed 5000 on munitions work.

Lancaster Carriage Works
SD4863 : Lancaster Wagon Works - offices by Ian Taylor

The factory operated by Caton Engineering produced 18" torpedoes for the Admiralty from 1916 to 1919.


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