​1916

 
Blackburn did have conscientious objectors who were charged with being absentees under the Military Service Act. In May 1916 several cases were heard by the magistrates over a number of days. Many of these objectors were weavers. Their punishment was a fine of 40 shillings, to be deducted from their army pay and an order was made for them to be handed over to military escort.
 
Residents of Blackburn who were exempted from military service, were expected to contribute to the war effort in other ways. Munitions work was crucial. The Ministry of Munitions made an appeal to all the engineering companies in the country to help in the manufacture of shells, of which there was a great shortage at the start of the War. Blackburn Corporation were eager to assist and to this end, buildings at the Jubilee Street Generating Station were converted into a shell factory. There was a shortage of skilled labour at the outset and men had to be trained to work the plant. Then an order was received requiring skilled men to be distributed throughout the country, thus depleting the workforce. Women too were employed on this vital work. This created problems as the lifting and handling gear had to be modified to make it suitable for female use.
 
During the first eighteen months, the machinery was kept running night and day, seven days a week. 1,250 shells per week were produced. Shells were also sent there from other firms in the area who did not have facilities for finishing and despatching.
 
Women were expected to play their part by doing voluntary work, if they were not otherwise employed. The Red Cross and St John's Ambulance needed as many helpers as they could muster. They were needed to staff the hospitals, cook, sew and knit. There was an expression 'home comforts for the troops', which meant knitted garments, such as socks, vests, jerseys to keep the soldiers warm during the winter. Other relief organisations, both locally and nationally also recruited unemployed women, such as the Queen's Employment for Women Fund. The women employed under this scheme were involved in tailoring, dressmaking, renovating second hand garments which were to be given to the poor. Soup kitchens were set up to provide nourishment for the needy.
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