The Belgians of Birtley – video

Thank you to all the people who have watched our video about the history of munitions manufacture at Radway Green in Cheshire. For those who haven’t seen it, please watch it on our YouTube Channel and we would be very interested to receive any feedback via

For today’s dip into the Newsmaker video library we go even further back.

The First World War had already started, but the nature of the conflict on the Western Front was like nothing experienced in previous conflicts.

This was industrial war, but the British army was woefully ill-equipped to fight it.  2020-03-25However, building factories to produce munitions and supplies was only half the answer. Conscription meant that the labour they needed were not available.

There were two solutions. In a step that had major repercussions for our society post-1918, women workers poured into the factories.

The munitions factories in Birtley in the North East of England not only recruited women.  They also called upon the large number of injured Belgian servicemen and refugees who had fled to England. There were so many of them they were able to create their own communities outside the factory walls.

The Belgians of Birtley

This film features an interview with the distinguished BBC correspondent Kate Adie, who has written extensively about the role of women on the Home Front during The First World War.

The Belgians of Birtley