Rotherwas Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) Project
The Enterprise Zone is keen to showcase the industrial heritage of the site. The Heritage Lottery Funded project, launched in January 2016, has been successfully concluded having attracted plenty of interest from the families of former munitions workers, heritage groups and local community.
A total of 5,293 people attended 19 project-related events including valuation days, exhibitions, guided walks, the ROF social club and a finale event, a talk by Kate Adie at the Courtyard Theatre. The Rotherwas ROF Facebook page reached more than 139,000 people in 2017 with 14,300 people viewing one post which linked to a BBC Midlands article about the Prime Minister meeting the ‘Canary Girls’.
The project volunteers have made huge progress in collecting and digitising the names of former munitions workers and related material. Approximately 3600 munitions workers names and recollections have been recorded, to be made accessible to the public. Much of this is now available via the project funded ‘Touch Table’ and the Herefordshire History website.
Launch of Rotherwas ROF Project
A project to honour the contribution of the women who worked at Hereford’s former munitions factory has won Heritage Lottery Funding of more than £77,000.
The two-year programme will create a digital archive about the Rotherwas factory and its workers as well as fund a series of community events and work with local schools to explore and preserve its history for future generations.
The site opened in 1916 as a munitions filling factory and became one of the largest explosive filling sites in the UK. It covered more than 300 acres and comprised more than 370 buildings. Employing mainly women, the site was bombed during the Second World War, in 1942, and suffered a major explosion in 1944.
The project named ‘Rotherwas ROF - Front Line Duty’ will mark 100 years since the factory opened in 1916. It will focus on the impact the factory complex had on Hereford and the women who worked there.
The total project cost is £101,800 with £77,100 provided through the HLF. The remainder will come from income from events and sponsorship.
The initiative was drawn up by a partnership of Herefordshire Council, the Hereford Enterprise Zone at Skylon Park that houses the former factory site and the Hereford Archives and Records Centre, which is based on the Zone.
Activities will include community talks, films, exhibitions, walks and events alongside the development of the archive and work in local schools. A part time project officer will be appointed to manage the project and 40 volunteers will be trained to take part.
Neil Kerr, vice-chairman of the Enterprise Zone Board, said: “The munitions factory had a very important role nationally but it also plays an important part in the DNA of many Herefordshire families so we are delighted that we have been able to secure HLF funding for this project.
“The programme of events will commemorate the part it has played in our history and record and celebrate the contribution of the people who worked here particularly the huge workforce of women.
Councillor Graham Powell, Herefordshire Council's cabinet member for Economy and Corporate Services, also shared his delight that the Heritage Lottery Fund supported the project.
“This is the culmination of a lot of hard work from local organisations to ensure that the munitions factory and its workers receive their well deserved place in history,” he said.
Anne Jenkins, HLF’s Deputy Director of Operations, said: “This project will tell the story of the vital Home Front contribution made by mainly women workers – the so-called munitionettes – during two world wars. Thanks to National Lottery players we are able to support the research that will ensure that their hard, and dangerous, work is overlooked no longer.”
The launch event took place in January 2016 with the final event scheduled for October 2017.
For further information about the project, please contact Suzanne Wenczek on 07810835018 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.