The Royal Ordnance Factory
Bridgend South Wales
 
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All about the Workers

As previously stated most of the initial workers would have been male, however with the onset of war many of the younger men would have enlisted to do their bit for King and country, whilst many others would have been released for military service in key arms of each service.

At this time the government conscripted the female population into service, most were young women in their teens and early twenties, but there are records that indicate that some female employees were in their late fifties.

As stated earlier they made for an excellent work force, by applying their enthusiasm to the tasks with zeal that today that we would envy. Many had boy friends, or husbands, or relations in the services and felt that they were doing their bit to help them.

The reader would do well to remember that this represented a culture change, for at that time most women either went into domestic service or stayed at home and looked after their homes and children.

Trade Unionism was endemic in the South Wales valleys, and this made its impact in South Wales even at a time of war, this was also true at the Bridgend Royal Ordnance factory, however, there were no strikes, and the stoppages were of a minor nature. Trade unions operating within the Bridgend Arsenal were in the main compliant and supportive of the war effort.

During, this period the government had to change and relax the employment laws to allow women and young persons to work by night, this did not go down well with the unions but the then minister of labour Ernest Bevin had his way. (See Public Records Office Document AVIA 22/1026 held at KEW).

 

Most of the work force came from working class backgrounds but that didn’t stop them from socialising, in their free time, they enjoyed going to dances, local entertainment shows, and the pictures.

In fact the employment of women in the UK throughout the war was to have a profound effect on the countries social structure, and it also changed the social order following the war.

 

 

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