Scotlands History

Munitions factories

Glasgow was the ‘workshop of the world’ - the industrial heartland of Scotland. The shipyards, iron foundries and steel works were rapidly transformed to support the war effort. Engineers and workers built tanks, artillery, ships, aeroplanes and high-explosive shells.

Women working in the munitions factories were nicknamed ‘munitionettes’. They worked long hours with shifts of 10-12 hours a day and many were injured in accidents or poisoned. The high-explosive cordite was made using nitro-glycerine, nitric and sulphuric acids, and gun cotton.

... they face more danger every day than any soldier on home defence. The girls who take up this work sacrifice almost as much as men who enlist; for although they make on average 30s a week they are working much harder than most of them, particularly the large number who were formerly domestic servants, would ever have dreamed of working in peacetime.

Rebecca West, The Cordite Makers

The story of the massive Dornock Munitions Factory between Gretna and Annan is told in the Devil's Porridge Exhibition, in Annan. ‘The Devil's Porridge’ was the name given by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, to the volatile mix of nitro-glycerine and gun cotton.
  • Image of women at milling machines during World War I

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