Women & Explosives UK


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There were probably at least 2000 women and girls who were employed at the explosives or munitions works of Cornwall. They worked in small numbers at the gunpowder works from the early 19th century, and in much higher numbers in the safety fuse works (from about 1840 until the 1960’s) and also at the explosives works at Hayle and Perranporth from the late 1880’s. Numbers increased sharply for the duration of the Boer and First World War, when factories were also handed over for munitions work. About 1000 of these women and girls are listed in our searchable bal maidens database. More information can also be found in our book A Hazardous Occupation; Women and Girls of the Cornish Explosives Industries (see books)

Included in this section are lists of some of the females working at explosives and munitions works in England and Scotland during World War 1, mostly as found in the National Roll of the Great War 1914-18 (NRGW). This 14 volume set of books was published shortly after the end of the war (and a 2002 reprint now includes an index as the 15th volume). Containing over 100,000 names of those who gave both military and civilian service, it set out to record those who survived the war. Sadly, coverage is far from complete, with 5 volumes for London, and one each for Portsmouth, Southampton, Bedfordshire + Northamptonshire, Luton, Birmingham, Manchester, Salford, Leeds and Bradford. There are about 1000 named female munition workers mentioned in these volumes. As the original information was collated by place of residence when it was collected (i.e. post war) there are some munitions workers who had served in a totally different area from their post war residence. As a result there are a few additional lists and names for places outside of the areas covered by the original volumes (see Women Munitions Workers UK). In addition there are a few extra named munition workers from other sources.




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