What was it like in towns and rural areas?

A black and white image of children sailing a model yacht in a park superimposed over a modern day photo of the same scene

Related Stories

World War One was a time of great change for people in the United Kingdom. The country changed forever as men and women took up new roles and had new experiences.

They took up new roles in the workforce but also in society, changing ideas about what people were capable of and how they should live.

More jobs for women

A female factory worker

In July 1914, only 2,000 women were employed in dockyards, storehouses and factories, but by the end of the war there were 247,000 women in these jobs - over twelve times as many.

In total, over a million women joined the workforce during the course of the war.

During the war lots of people did unfamiliar jobs in new places. Many were keen to do what they could to support the war and were glad of the chance to try something different. Most were women with no families to look after.

Women from country areas went to the towns and cities looking for jobs they could not do before the war. Having grown up in small, quiet villages, they suddenly were surrounded by lots of people, vehicles and noise. There were lots of places to visit and things to do and it was very exciting.

Factory workers and craftswomen

In the cities, women in munitions factories worked long hours. When food was delivered to local shops, these women could not join the queues because they were still in the factories. This meant they did not get as much food as people free to queue or who had children to help.

In villages, towns and cities across Britain, women met in halls and churches to support the war. They would knit socks and scarves for the soldiers and roll bandages for the wounded.

Learning new skills

Many women went to help farmers and were happy to learn new skills, like milking and ploughing. It was very peaceful in the countryside and there was enough food. They felt safer too as air raids were unlikely, unless the farms were near the coast. But these women missed their families too.

Male teachers from small country schools had gone to fight in the war, and so well-educated women got jobs in the village schools as teachers. People had to find new ways to pass the time outside school hours. Sometimes the village hall or church had dancing or an interesting talk to go to.

Teachers' notes

Teachers' notes and classroom ideas looking at town and country life 100 years ago.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.