Former bomb-filling factory, Pembrey

button-theme-womenbutton_lang_welshbutton_lang_frenchFormer bomb-filling factory, Pembrey

A munitions filling factory was opened in 1915 on land which is now the southern end of Pembrey Country Park. The factory was west of the corner in the Wales Coast Path here.

By 1917, National Filling Factory no.18 employed more than 1,000 people. They filled the metal cases of artillery shells, torpedoes and mines. Women accounted for 71% of the workforce in March 1917. Most of the workers travelled to work by train, from Swansea, Carmarthen and other towns. They alighted at Lando halt, specially created for the workers here and in the adjacent dynamite factory.

Trains also brought components and raw materials to both factories. Standard gauge wagons came onto the site via a connection with the main railway network. Narrow gauge railways carried materials and finished items around the site.

At its peak, the factory packed more than 200 tons of high explosives each week into shell cases. In under two years, more than 1,140,000 shells from Pembrey were dispatched to the Western Front and the Middle East.

In May 1917, long before the war ended, the factory stopped filling shells and the workers switched to taking apart defective munitions for component recovery. This continued well after the Armistice. The process involved heating shells to melt the high explosives out of them.

It was dangerous work, and accidents were not publicly reported because of wartime censorship. However, inquest records reveal that three women were killed when an 18-pound (8.1kg) shell exploded at the factory on 18 November 1918, a week after the war ended.

Many workers were laid off at the end of 1919. The site was reused in the 1930s for the Royal Ordnance Factory.

About the place name:

Pembrey comes from Pen-bre (top of the hill), which includes the elements pen (top, summit) and bre (hill or mountain).

With thanks to Alice Pyper, of Dyfed Archaeological Trust, and Prof Dai Thorne, of the Welsh Place-Name Society

More about the Pembrey munitions factory – Dyfed Archaeological Trust website

Website of Pembrey Country Park

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