Royal Ordnance Factory site


Ref. No.: KB98
Date of Photo: 1945.

The machine shop for the Royal Ordnance Factory. To cater for the medical welfare of the large workforce treatment rooms were also provided onsite. When completed the factory consisted of more than 1,000 buildings, 18 miles of roads, 7 miles of which could be classified as main roads, and 23 miles of railway lines with a station for personnel and shunting sidings for goods. Due to the processes involved in explosive filling, the buildings were widely spaced and in some cases were mounded up to the eaves to minimise the effect in the event of an explosion taking place. A three shift system was employed in the factory so that continuous production was maintained, and the transport which carried the workers to to the factory, instead of returning empty, could wait to pick up the people who were coming off duty. The preliminary planning for the site was done at Woolwich Arsenal. Sir Alex Gibson was the consultant, Holloway Brothers the contractors. Lawrence Gale from Woolwich Arsenal was appointed Superintendant in July 1940, taking 9 staff with him. The first shell came off the production line in September 1940. There were only between 50 and 100 employees when it first opened. The factory cost over £8,500,000. By the summer of 1941, 10,000 people were employed, rising to a peak of 20,000, most of whom were women. Many staff were transfered from Woolwich after that was bombed. A Y.W.C.A. hostel was built next to Kirkby station for 1,000 women.

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