A century on, Leeds prepares to pay its respects to the victims of the Barnbow disaster

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An east Leeds community will pause next week to pay solemn tribute to the victims of the single largest loss of life in the city’s history.

A total of 35 women died in an explosion at the Barnbow munitions factory in Cross Gates on December 5, 1916.

And on Monday, 100 years to the day since the disaster, a service of commemoration will take place at Manston Park.

Organised by East Leeds History and Archaeology Society, the event will get under way at 1.30pm and is due to be attended by relatives of some of those killed at Barnbow.

Other attendees will include the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Gerry Harper, and local ward councillors Pauleen Grahame, Peter Gruen and Janette Walker.

The service will be conducted by clergy from Churches Together in Leeds 15 while soil recently gathered from the site of the Battle of the Somme will be scattered at the Barnbow memorial in the park.

East Leeds History and Archaeology Society meetings and events co-ordinator Jacki Lawrence told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “There has been a lot of interest in the anniversary.

“The bravery that was shown by these girls definitely deserves to be remembered.”

She also thanked Coun Grahame and her fellow ward members for giving funding support to the event.

Barnbow opened in 1915 and, as increasing numbers of men were called up to fight in the First World War, women eventually comprised the majority of its workforce.

The factory’s remains were recently added to the national heritage list by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Barnbow Canaries, a play inspired by the explosion of 1916, was also staged to widespread acclaim at the West Yorkshire Playhouse earlier this year.