Women War Workers in the North West during WW1
The North West of England with its rich industrial heritage played a significant role and as more and more men were recruited to the armed services so women were needed to fill those industrial jobs left by men.
Over 600,000 women were employed in previously male dominated work roles, often working alongside men in reserved occupations. Women made a valuable contribution to the work force working in mills, mines, factories and also in the hazardous ammunition industry.
Women munitions workers at the works of the Yorkshire & Lancashire Railway Company at Horwich, Bolton in 1917.
|© IWM (Q 109907 )|
Women munitions workers, alongside their male counterparts, produce 6-inch high explosive shells at the works of the Yorkshire & Lancashire Railway Company at Horwich, Bolton in 1917. Many companies switched to making munitions during the war, as well as welcoming more women into their workforce.
It was more important than ever to keep the home fires burning and to do that the country needed fuel. Something that is close to my heart is the Wigan Coal and Iron Company which employed many members of my own family.
My great grandmother was Pit Brow Lass in the latter part of the nineteenth century working at
Blundells Colliery in Wigan which formed part of Wigan Coal Field.
Women pit brow workers of the Wigan Coal and Iron Company, 1918.
|Women pit brow workers of the Wigan Coal and Iron Company, 1918.|
© IWM (Q 28302)
These women sorted coal and moved heavy tubs on the surface of a coal mine – work that was dirty and physically demanding. Jobs like these had been done by working class women before the war and continued to be important in wartime.
The Making of Tyres
Women workers at the factory of Charles Macintosh & Sons in Manchester make tyres for motor vehicles. The company produced a wide range of vital rubber products, including mouthpieces for gas masks issued to soldiers. Making these products required technical skill.