The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, London: Munitions Factory
Already a large gun and ammunitions manufacturing site before 1914, The Royal Arsenal in Woolwich expanded into a multitude of factories servicing the war effort.
The huge site, had its own internal railway system, employed 80,000 workers and has been described as the ‘secret city’ of Woolwich.
The work was hazardous. Factory workers faced the dangers of unstable explosives, possible air raids as well as the health risks from handling noxious substances known to cause a range of medical disorders from skin complaints to bone disintegration.
Women made up around a third of the workforce at its peak. Employment at the Arsenal was regarded as well paid, but female workers did not receive the same wages and benefits as their male counterparts. During the war, legislation was passed to ensure that female workers could be quickly dismissed easily when the conflict finished.
Location: Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, London SE18
Image of women workers at the Royal Arsenal
Photograph courtesy of Imperial War Museums
Available since: Mon 3 Feb 2014
This clip is from
WW1 at Home: a growing collection of stories about life on the WW1 Home Front