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Manston Park, Royal Ordnance Factory women workers

Manston Park, Royal Ordnance Factory women workers
c1942. Image shows women workers from the nearby Royal Ordnance Factory, AKA Barnbow, who have gathered together for a photograph in Manston Park. The factory had opened in 1940 and immediately began recruiting workers. Eventually, there were 3,000 people employed here, 2,000 of them women. They were employed in the manufacture of guns, retro-fitting Sherman tanks with new, high velocity 17pdr guns and from 1944, building Centurion tanks. These women had to learn new skills such as welding and rivetting and so initially served an eight week probationary period. Mrs Elizabeth Jackson, seen to the extreme left wearing a light-coloured boiler suit, was one of 150 women employed as a driver of overhead cranes. These electrically driven cranes were used to transport heavy components around the factory, for instance gun barrels. Crane drivers earned £3-10 shillings per week (a good wage at the time). They could be operating the crane after as little as four days training and were recognisable by their blue headscarves. It was considered a dangerous job as the women had to climb up into the roof and over the top of the crane before lowering themselves into the cab. Other workers also wore coloured scarves; red for charge-hands, white for inspectors, green for machine operators and yellow for labourers. During the years of the Second World War around 1.5 million women were employed in the munitions factories throughout the United Kingdom. Through their skill and work ethic they played a vital role in the defence of the country. Image courtesy of Peter Jackson.

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