The Royal Ordnance Factory
Bridgend South Wales
 
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Where it all Happened

After they had clocked in and had been checked for contraband (cigarettes, matches, and metal objects such as hairgrips), the workers were bussed to their places of work inside the site, from the main entrance, and Tremains halt railway station. These buses were multi-seater’s with wooden slatted seats capable of transporting 40 or so persons at a time to their workshops.

Ordnance Shops

 

Before entering the clean areas where their workshops were located they entered the “Shifting Houses” where they changed into their working clothes, these included hair caps or turbans, gowns that tied at the neck and cuffs, and non-metallic overshoes.

Between Sept 1939 and May 1940, workers worked continuous 12 hour long shifts, but the pay was good with overtime payment for extended shifts, later the works operated a three shift system.

Machine Shop

 

Most of the production shops were lit by sealed Mercury lamps, and heating was pretty rudimentary; being by steam heated radiators fed from central boilers. The workers sat on wooden trestles at wooden workbenches; the latter were covered with thick rubberised linoleum. The flooring was also covered in insulated material; all were precautions against electrostatic sparks and fire.

On the plus side piped music (often from the BBC Radio programs such as “Music While You Work”) made up for some of the discomfort.

Filling Detonators

 

Food was on ration, but the canteens provided hot food at reasonable prices for all, often there were variety shows like “Itma” and “Workers Playtime” laid on during the lunch break to brighten up the day and keep the workers morale high.

Air raid sirens were frequent, but few took them seriously, many continued working through the raids refusing to seek shelter in the air raid bunkers, which were described by some as useless; being above ground and too near the workshops.

There is no record of the site ever being bombed although Luftwaffe reconnaissance aircraft photographed the site in August 1940, however, a number of unsuccessful attempts were made by the Luftwaffe to bomb the factories between 1940 and 1942.

Fortunately serious accidents were few and far between; although there were many minor ones, and in the main these all went unreported outside the factory. The ROF had its own resident doctors and medical staff to attend to most of these, plus occupational complaints (usually skin rashes and scabs), and reported diseases. In the event of a major accident the local hospital in Bridgend was called upon to give support. ( See "Explosion" in the "Accidents" chapter )

Smoke Shops


Click For Large Image

 

Each unit had its own foreman, plus overseers and production clerks/chasers; tasks and targets were set for each day, and workers were exhorted to meet and exceed these figures wherever possible.

Some of these factory sections were very noisy with the constant machining of metals into bombs and detonator parts, whilst other sections were relatively quiet.

(See "Personal Stories" in the "Workers" chapter).

 

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