Barnbow history is unveiled for Leeds schools’ pupils

Last year's unveiling of the first memorial for the Barnbow Lasses, Manston Park, Crossgates, Leeds.
Last year's unveiling of the first memorial for the Barnbow Lasses, Manston Park, Crossgates, Leeds.
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A memorial lectern is to be unveiled today at Manston Park Crossgates, to commemorate the sacrifice the Barnbow Lasses gave in the explosion at the Barnbow amunitions factory.

In 1916, a total of 35 women working there were killed in an explosion.

Now school children are to learn about the factory in a new education project in local schools.

Coun Pauleen Grahame (Lab, Whinmoor and Crossgates) who was due to attend the unveiling, said: “The history of what happened at Barnbow still runs deep in the community. It is wonderful that local children are to learn about the factory and it’s importance.”

The number one shell filling factory was built at Manston and started production in 1915. It had 17,000 workers, mostly women, working in hazardous conditions to provide shells and munitions for British and allied forces until the end of the war, in November 1918.

The women became known as the Barnbow Lasses. On 5th December 1916, 35 lasses were killed in an explosion at the factory, many more were seriously injured. In March 1917, a second explosion killed two more. In May 1918, a third explosion killed three men.

The first Barnbow Lasses Memorial which was built last year in Manston Park, recognising those that died but also those that displayed incredible courage and selflessness and worked to rescue the badly injured despite the fear of further explosions. The memorial stone and the plaque which lists the names of all those that died, are accompanied by information boards which tell the story of the Barnbow Lasses.

Now, a new ‘Barnbow Lasses’ education pack for schools is being launched to provide an opportunity for children to learn about the struggles of local people as they lived through the First World War.

The pack contains personal stories, quotes, maps, photos and worksheets which enable teachers to educate and inspire their pupils about local history.

Schools are also invited to design the Barnbow Lasses flower bed that surrounds the memorial and the winning design will be planted by council gardeners.

The first Design a Flowerbed Competition was won by schoolgirl Keris Wilson, a pupil at Swarcliffe Primary School.

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