Munitions workers played a crucial role in the First World War. They supplied the troops at the front with the armaments and equipment they needed to fight.
Following a shortage of shells in 1915, the Ministry of Munitions was founded to control Britain's output of war material.
A number of new initiatives were soon introduced to improve production levels. One of these was an appeal to women to register for war service work. Thousands of women volunteered as a result, and many of these were soon employed in the growing number of munitions factories across the country. By the end of the war, over 700,000 – and possibly up to one million – women had become ‘munitionettes’. The Royal Arsenal at Woolwich, was the largest munitions factory in the country.
The munitionettes worked long hours in often hazardous conditions. Many women suffered TNT poisoning, from their proximity to TNT (Trinitrotoluene), an explosive that turned the skin yellow. The munitions workers who were affected by this were commonly known as ‘canaries’ due to their bright yellow appearance.
Our beer, brewed with Brew Buddies in Swanley, is a celebration of the 26,000 women, Canaries, who worked in Woolwich during the First World War.