Heritage Protection For Site Of WWI Munitions Factory Where Blast Killed 35 Women

Memorial to the Barnbow Lasses. <a href=https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30385696>Photo Credit</a>
Memorial to the Barnbow Lasses. Photo Credit

The site of a First World War munitions factory at Leeds in England now has heritage protection.

The qualification not only recognizes and memorializes the national role played by the factory but also proposed development around the location, can now be supervised with care.

A trio of separate explosions occurred at the plant, the most serious in 1916 during the first week of December.

Thirty-five women died and many more were seriously wounded by an explosion in one of the rooms used for fusing shells.

The blast was the worst calamity resulting in loss of lives in Leeds’ history and the first significant major loss of female civilian workers during the war.

Two more women were killed on March 21, 1917. A blast on March 31, 1918, killed three men.

Even though the 1916 explosion was heard for miles, the women’s deaths were not publicized for fear of affecting national morale and the recruiting of women, ITV News reported.

Following the war, the explosions remained largely unpublicized.

Later, the women became known as the Barnbow Lasses and have come to represent the role women played in the war and their contribution to the Home Front.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE