Image taken in Manston Park c1942. It shows a group of women workers from the nearby Barnbow Royal Ordnance Factory. The factory opened in 1940 half a mile from the former site of the shell-filling factory on Barnbow Common during the years of the Great War. The women wore boiler suits and their hair was kept covered for safety reasons by scarves in different colours according to their individual roles. Mrs Elizabeth Jackson, a married woman with four children, is seen on the extreme left wearing a light-coloured boiler suit. She would have worn a blue headscarf as she was employed as one of the 150 overhead crane drivers in the tank factory. This was quite a dangerous task which required a head for heights. Some of the other women she is pictured with were welders, riveters and electricians. A crane driver could earn £3-10 shillings for a 60 hour week. Other women on piece-work earned as much as £5 per week. These rates of pay were comparatively good in the war years. During the Second World War 2,000 women made up two thirds of a workforce of 3,000. They manufactured guns for the army and the Royal Navy and eventually retrofitted Sherman tanks with high velocity 17pdr tank guns. In 1944 the ROF was chosen to build Centurion tanks as a result of the successful Sherman retrofit programme. Image courtesy of Peter Jackson.
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