4th March 1940.

Work on Swynnerton Royal Ordinance Factory started in 1939 and by Today in 1940 the first of the staff trains ran to the new shell-filling Factory No 5, one of eighteen such sites.

Platform 1 Coldmeece. Notice mostly women. R.M. Casserley Collection.

From a workforce of 5,000 by the summer of 1941 the factory was employing 15,000 to reach a peak of 18,000 the next year. They were mainly women who were paid £2/10s for mornings, an extra £1 for afternoons and £4/10s for nights, very good money, though it could be hazardous employment with the women often suffering loss of hands and other injuries.

After World War I Ordnance Factories were dismantled to leave only a handful in existence, but with war looming in 1938 it was felt necessary to re-arm and re-build so eventually there were 44 such factories split into three functions: Explosive manufacture; gun, tank and ammunition and shell-filling factories.

Special trains ran to a purpose built island platform at Coldmeece where a connection into the factory was made from the existing London North West Railway (LNWR) main line Crewe to Stafford. However the expansion of the Factory presented an obstacle to the smooth running of the main line.

So a new line was built from Swynnerton junction on the North Staffordshire Railway between Stone to Norton Bridge which ran one mile to the new station which never appeared on railway timetables and the Factory itself was not on Ordnance Maps until 1962.

Elstow ROF today.

Old sign: ‘Beware during the hours of darkness’. Elstow.

Elstow ROF. Cardington Airship Factory in distance.






Many ordnance factories were ‘agency factories’ run by private concerns; ROF Elstow (Bedford) was run by J. Lyons for the Ministry of Supply (MOS) and others by Courtaulds, Cooperative Wholesale Society (CWS), Metal Closures and Lever Bros. A number of factories were built and owned by ICI Nobel Explosives with MOS funding.

Branston Depot originally built as a machine gun factory and pre-war was the Branston pickle factory.

Many of the ordnance sites were stores as opposed to factories one such being the large Royal Army Ordnance Corps Depot at Branston, Burton-on-Trent which employed 3,000 and commanded by a brigadier including Robert Jephson Jones (1957-1960) who had won a George Cross in Malta for dealing with explosive devices between June-November 1940.







About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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