Forgotten heroines of Barnbow

Photograph of Eva White in her munitions uniform about 1917

Eva White was just 21 years of age when Britain declared war on Germany. After the man she was intending to marry died at war she began work as a ‘Barnbow Lass’.

By 1916 the workforce at Barnbow numbered 16,000 and covered a 200 acre site. It was described locally as a ‘city within a city’. Eva’s days at the factory were long and arduous, working eight hours a day, six days a week, packing shells with explosives. 
 
It was dangerous work, a fact brought starkly to light in December 1916 when ‘Room 42’ of the factory exploded, killing 35 women and injuring many more. Despite this tragedy Barnbow’s work force returned to making explosives the very next day.
 
In 1917 Eva married the nephew of the game keeper at Nostell Priory. Their son George Hepworth, who is a regular visitor, says that she rarely spoke of the danger she had faced. Many thanks to George for sharing this story.