Friday, January 27, 2012

Hayes Women Munition Workers WW1

( Hayes HMV factory producing munitions during WW1)
Hayes Women Munition Workers 1915
(Sandy Nordby grandmother)

During World War One the new factories in Hayes were turned over to the War effort, thousands of young women were recruited to take the places of the men now conscripted into the Army.
These young women workers came from across Britain in search of relatively well paid jobs in the munition factories of Hayes, the largest of which was the National Filling Factory No: 7. this was situated on 14 acres of land in 400 buildings (sheds) at least 75 feet apart established on a site South of Hayes station (Nestles Avenue) and employed 10,000 women and 3,000 men.

It is therefore possible that the number of Women employed in Hayes on War work at the height of WW1 could be as high as 15-20,000.

At the His Masters Voice factory, Hayes th
e new 120,000 pound gramophone manufacture factory, had just started assembly work when War was declared and as global sales slumped, so HMV had little option but to obtain munitions work. As a direct result employment at the Hayes HMV factory increased four fold and by wars end. a total of 6 million pounds worth of business had been generated.

Munitions work was extremely dangerous and the women worked long hours. The TNT in the munitions turned the women's skin yellow and they bec
ome commonly known as ' canaries'. I It has been estimated that around 400 women died from overexposure to TNT during World War One, but this is likely to be a significant underestimate.

While organisations like the Red Cross and the YWCA/YMCA attempted to provide rest, refreshments. and restaurant facilities it was left to th
e unions to fight for better safety and pay in the factories.

Below is a picture of Italian opera star Luisa Tetrazzini entertaining the munition workers at HMV Hayes factory during their lunchtime, the Young women workers in the picture look no older than late teens. (click on the picture to enlarge)


"We are the Hayes Munition girls
Working night and day
Wearing the roses off our cheeks
For very little pay
Some people call us lazy
But were next to the boys on the sea
If it was'nt for the munitions girls
Where would the Empire be ?"

Many of the women in Hayes joined Mary MacArthur's National Federation of Women Workers union

The local Hayes branch of the National Federation of Women Workers (probably covered Hayes and Southall) and the the Secretary was Mrs Hollings of 21 Leonard Road, Southall and a Miss Nutcher were the local organiser during the war.

Later a Miss F. G.Lingard, 9 Nield Road, Hayes, Middlesex became Secretary of Hayes National Federation of Women

The union had a good membership in the Hayes women munition factories

It was claimed that by 1915 the union had 350 of the 600 women workers employed in the Hayes factories, (including amongst Belgium women refugees working in the factories) with representatives in nearly every factory.

In 1915 the Hayes branch of the National Federation of Women Workers organised a delegation to demand an increase of six pence per hour as presently they only received three and half pence while men received seven pence per hour.

In June 1915 over 200 women workers attended a meting organised by the union and addressed by NFWW organiser Nutcher and Miss Pethick Lawerence spoke stating that "Hayes was full of vigour".

It was reported that the ASE were helping in trying to secure equal pay for women in Hayes, however James Andrew Seddon (MP for Newton-Makerfield) had stated that he was astonished learn of the low wages of some of the girls in the Hayes factories, but he was glad to learn that thanks to the trade union action a number of special improvements had been secured.

Miss Pethick Lawerence stated at the same meeting that "When they saw how all the Labour party in Hayes were there to help them (NFWW) ...and that...."No district had a stronger Labour party than that in Hayes".


Uxbridge County Court dealt with the claims on behalf of two munition workers in local factories
Daisy Hitchings of 16 Pickett Street, Balham (loss of finger)
Daughter of Mary Ann E Bosher of Melbourne Cottages, Alma Road, Windsor - Killed in an accident at the Munitions factory 3rd January 1917

The early Hayes and Southall Labour Parties (especially Mrs Chard of Southall) played a key role in trying to secure decent lodgings for the women who flocked to Hayes and Southall at the Governments request. it was also the local Labour Parties that established a vigilance committee to fight unfair rent and food rises.

Some men at the front were shocked that not only had they been replaced by women workers but they sometimes had secured better pay than they had and alleged that some were paid more than them as solders at the front.

What is known is that without the work of thousands of Hayes women munition workers the Allies would not have won the War, then again you could argue the weapons Hayes produced during WW1 probably killed hundreds of thousands of young German men

Note The WW1 song 'It's a long way to Tipperary' was first produced by The Gramophone Company HMV (probably at the Hayes plant) originally in 1913. A song made famous by the Connaught Rangers in France in the early days of the War. (see Hayes Peoples History posting on the Connaught Rangers).

So not only did Hayes produce the munitions to fire at the enemy, it also produced the soldiers song that they sang on the way to war.
Councillor J.C. Drenon
The Uxbridge Advertiser 23rd July 1915

The patriotism of many so called patriots starts and ends with their pockets,
it was the same with the coal owners, who grow fat out
of the country's needs,
and risk the country's safety rather than
give the colliers a living wage.
It is the same with the some property owners,
when it comes to compelling them to spen
d money
on their broken down dirty dilapidated houses,
their wails and screeches reach unto the heavens!
But they will do anything rather than their lawful duty"


"We are the Hayes Munition girls
Working night and day
Wearing the roses off our cheeks
For very little pay
Some people call us lazy
But were next to the boys on the sea
If it was'nt for the munitions girls
Where would the Empire be ?"

See also Mike Collier's excellent article

Hayes - Nipper and His Master's Voice HMV

Francis Barraud painting of a stray fox terrier found by his brother Mark in 1884 and painted it in 1899, has become synonymous with His Masters Voice (HMV) Records and therefore Hayes as the place where HMV records were manufactured.

Barraud wrote

'It is difficult to say how the idea came to me beyond the fact that it suddenly occurred to me that to have my dog listening to the phonograph, with an intelligent and rather puzzled expression, and call it His Master's Voice would make an excellent subject.'

'We had a phonograph and I often noticed how puzzled he (Nipper) was to make out where the voice came from. It was certainly the happiest thought I ever had'

Francis Barraud finally sold the picture and the copyright to HMV for one hundred100 pounds in 1899. However the Logo did not appear on British record labels until 1909

Below pictures of Nipper and the original painting by Barraund

Meanwhile, the workers of Hayes often stated 'We Want the Workers Voice, Not His Masters Voice'

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Holmes & Steels Founders of the Labour Party

Railway workers found the combination of an 'ethical' socialism coupled with hard-headed policies on railway nationalisation an attractive mix.

It was a Doncaster signalman, Thomas Steels who moved the key motion from his branch to the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (ASRS) Executive calling for the formation of an 'independent party of Labour'.

This was accepted by the ASRS executive and James Holmes, a full time organiser for the ASRS, in the South West and Wales who moved the decisive motion at the 1899 TUC Congress held in Plymouth which led to the formation of the Labour Representation Committee.

Steels was a member of the ILP and a leading activist in the Yorkshire ASRS.

If your passing through Doncaster Station you can salute the plaque to Steels


Paul Salveson Yorkshire Ridings TSSA
Malcolm Wallace's 'Single or return? The History of the TSSA',

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Women's Tax Resistance League - Uxbridge

The Women’s Tax Resistance League (1909–1918) was a group closely associated with the Women's Freedom League (estb 1907), which supported non payment of taxes until women secured the vote.

The Women's Tax Resistance League was officially established on the 22nd October 1909

The Women's Freedom League colours were Yellow (or Gold), White and Green

Uxbridge Women’s Tax Resistance League.

On Thursday evening,

Katherine Ann Raleigh

Katherine Ann Raleigh (8 Park Road, Uxbridge) was the most influential Suffragette in the Uxbridge area, and was the driving force behind the Uxbridge NUWSS, Women's Freedom League and Women's Tax Resistance League.
Eldest in a gifted family, she was University women and a member of the University Club. When she arrived in Uxbridge, she drew around her a circle of friends at her weekly gatherings to whom she freely gave the benefits of her knowledge of literature and her talent for dramatic reading.
A Greek scholar, Librarian for the Hellenic society, She spent much time in Germany studying Folk lore, Member of English Folk Lore Society.
Katherine Ann Raleigh, became well known for her Suffragette work, wrote numerous pamphlets.
Raleigh was the first women (Uxbridge) council candidate in the Borough
Katherine Ann Raleigh died in January 1922 and is buried at Abney Park Cemetery, Highbury.

Katherine Raleigh deserves more recognition within the Borough. Photo Gazette 22 January 1922

In 1913 Marion Cunningham was secretary of the Hayes-Southall Women's Freedom League, lead by Charlotte Despard  (see other posts)

In July 1917 Miss Katherine Ann Raleigh, the assiduous local worker on behalf of the Women's cause (Suffragette) had refused to pay certain taxes as a protest to the government in not guarantying the franchise (Vote) to women,
Her property was seized and sold on this occasion a half dozen silver tea spoons in a case. these were bought by another suffragette Miss Underwood ( Believe this is F. A Underwood 31 Rush Hill Road, Clapham (Clapham Women's Freedom League)

Tory thugs broke up Women's Tax Resistance League and other suffragette meetings in West Drayton and Harefield

Uxbridge Tax Resistance League held meetings at the Pump Uxbridge

Hayes-Southall Women's Freedom League

Secretary: M
arion Cunningham

Quaker Suffrage Society established 1911

Secretary Sophia Seeking 6 Brookfield, West Hill, Highgate, London

Evelina Haverfield

Evelina Haverfield nee Scarlett was born in Scotland on the 9th August 1867. On her marriage to Major Henry Haverfield she moved to Devon, Caundle Marsh, Dorset and later Peace Cottage, Brendon, North Devon.

She accompanied her second husband John Blaguy to South Africa, where he was in the militar y. Her sister Ella Scarlett- Synage) a doctor, was also in South Africa working with Millicent Fawcett in monitoring the British Concentration camps for Boer prisoners and their families.

On her return to Britain, Evelina Haverfield became a prominent suffragette, initially involved in in the West of England National Union of Women Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) she joined the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) 1909 and became secretary of Paddington branch of the WSPU in 1910.

Her horse riding skills were used to great advantage by the suffragettes when tackling mounted police and in providing mounted horse escorts for suffragette events.
She was arrested for her part in the suffragette "Black Friday" on 18th November 1910 an accused of assaulting a police officer, on her arrest she was reported as stating that " next time I will bring a revolver".

A year later, 1911 she was sent to Holloway jail for two weeks for her part in suffragette disturbances on 21st November 1911
By 1914 she had joined Sylvia Pankhurst's East London Federation becoming its treasurer.
It was during her suffragette work that Haverfield came into contact with Vera Holme, who would later become her Lesbian partner.

During World War One Haverfield was appointed Commandant in Chief of Women's Reserve Ambulance (Green Cross Society) in August 1914, but left after a disagreement and became involved in the Scottish Women's Hospital in Serbia from 1915.
She spent the rest of her life fighting for the rights of the Serbian people

Evelina Haverfield died on the 21st March 1920 of pneumonia in Bajina Basta , Serbia, and is buried in the local cemetery, later a children's health centre was named after her in the town.

Picure right of Evelina's grave (Thanks to Tom Allan)

Hillingdon Herald - Women's Centre circa 1988

Friday, January 06, 2012

National Union of Railwaymen banners

Bottom picture West Ham NUR Strike Committee 1919

100-year-old NUR railway banner goes on show after restoration

A 100-year-old railway banner restored after being found in a state of disrepair has gone on display at Immingham Museum.
The painted silk banner belonging to the New Holland branch of the National Union of Railways (NUR now RMT) was discovered in storage in Doncaster several years ago.
It was restored by a conservator in Leeds with a £5,000 grant acquired by the museum, and it now hangs proudly alongside the other exhibits. Adrian Coggin, treasurer of the museum, said: "It was found in a derelict state and we felt it was too good to let go. It's a big part of this area's railway heritage."

The banner depicts the steam locomotive Sir Sam Fay, named after the Great Central Railway's general manager.

Roger Whyman, chairman of the museum's management committee, said: "The New Holland branch was formed before the NUR was created in 1913 by the amalgamation of three railway unions.
"The records we have been able to find suggest that this banner pre-dates the amalgamation.

"We believe this is the original banner, which was then modified after the amalgamation."