A desperate shortage of artillery shells in 1915 caused a political crisis that resulted in the creation of the Ministry of Munitions and a huge munitions factory was built at Gretna in Dumfriesshire to produce cordite, known as “the Devil’s porridge”.
From photographs and other material, it appears that McBains, an engineering business in Tweedmouth, were also engaged in munitions work and employed female workers as part of this.
McBains munitions workers took part in the Berwick Charities Week Fancy Dress Parade and Carnival on 29th August 1918.
The McBains contribution was reported in The Berwick Advertiser on 6th September:
“A fine exhibit was that of Messrs McBain, Tweedmouth. Here a company of busy war workers were seen round a turning lathe and a young lady mechanic was busy during the course of the procession turning out an 18lb shell. Round the motor lorry sat workers in business like rig exhibiting shells in the numerous stages up to completion.
The workers taking part included: Mrs Barbara Davenport; Mrs G. Johnston; the Misses Jeanie Emery; Janet Emery; Anne Makins; Lizzie Makins; Emma Wright; Kate Linkie; M Reid; E V Reid; A Crombie; M G Wakenshaw; J Scott; I Lough;N. Robinson; Alice Johnston; Nellie Tait; A Johnston and Messrs Mack, C Musgrave and A Johnston.
On Friday 30 August 1918 as part of the Charities Week, McBains offered to show people round their munitions works. Charge of 6d was made for admission.”
Berwick munitions workers
(Photo courtesy of Philip Rowett
McBains’ munitions workers in the Berwick Charities Week Fancy Dress Parade, 29th August 1918