A project to honour the contribution of the women who worked at Hereford’s former munitions factory has won Heritage Lottery Funding of more than £77,000.
The two-year programme will create a digital archive about the Rotherwas factory and its workers as well as fund a series of community events and work with local schools to explore and preserve its history for future generations.
The site opened in 1916 as a munitions filling factory and became one of the largest explosive filling sites in the UK. It covered more than 300 acres and comprised more than 370 buildings. Employing mainly women, the site was bombed during the Second World War, in 1942, and suffered a major explosion in 1944.
The project named ‘Rotherwas ROF – Front Line Duty’ will mark 100 years since the factory opened in 1916. It will focus on the impact the factory complex had on Hereford and the women who worked there.
The total project cost is £101,800 with £77,100 provided through the HLF. The remainder will come from income from events and sponsorship.
The initiative was drawn up by a partnership of Herefordshire Council, the Hereford Enterprise Zone at Skylon Park that houses the former factory site and the Hereford Archives and Records Centre, which is based on the Zone.
Activities will include community talks, films, exhibitions, walks and events alongside the development of the archive and work in local schools. A part time project officer will be appointed to manage the project and 40 volunteers will be trained to take part.
Neil Kerr, vice-chairman of the Enterprise Zone Board, said: “The munitions factory had a very important role nationally but it also plays an important part in the DNA of many Herefordshire families so we are delighted that we have been able to secure HLF funding for this project.
“The programme of events will commemorate the part it has played in our history and record and celebrate the contribution of the people who worked here particularly the huge workforce of women.
Councillor Graham Powell, Herefordshire Council’s cabinet member for Economy and Corporate Services, also shared his delight that the Heritage Lottery Fund supported the project.
“This is the culmination of a lot of hard work from local organisations to ensure that the munitions factory and its workers receive their well deserved place in history,” he said.
Anne Jenkins, HLF’s Deputy Director of Operations, said: “This project will tell the story of the vital Home Front contribution made by mainly women workers – the so-called munitionettes – during two world wars. Thanks to National Lottery players we are able to support the research that will ensure that their hard, and dangerous, work is overlooked no longer.”
The launch event is set to take place in January 2016 with the final event scheduled for October 2017.