Factories in the Great war

Many existing factories in the area went over to war production. The Genotin Blouse Factory in Enfield Town went over to the production of military shirts.  The Bycullah Athenaeum was taken over by Klingers

for the manufacture of military clothing and hospital garments. Many small munitions factories sprang up such as those in the old cartridge factory in Tile Kiln Lane. Weir Hall was requisitioned for use as a munitions factory.  Furniture factories were used to make airplane parts. Existing military factories such as the Royal Small Arms in Enfield Lock rapidly expanded, taking on more workers.

Eley’s Cartridge Factory

Eley’s in Angel Road Edmonton made munitions including hand grenades and anti-Zeppelin bullets

Ponders End Shell factory

Established in late 1914 it became one of the largest munitions works in the country. In 1918 during the German offensive the workers doubled their production working around the clock. The works closed in 1919.

Morsons

Morsons chemical factory set up in Ponders End in 1901. The First World War saw major expansion making opiates, antiseptic field dressings for the troops and allegedly the first poison gas.

Morson's Interior
Morson’s Interior

United Flexible Tubing

This was set up in the former crape factory. The tubing was used by the Admiralty for charging torpedoes, re-fueling submarines and as part of early submarine detection equipment.

United Flexible Metal Tubing
United Flexible Metal Tubing

Ediswans

The war created a huge demand for parts for radios leading to an increase in production of valves at Ediswans. This in turn led to an increase in profits.

Bellings

Most of Bellings production was given over to war work. They made heating and cooking equipment for submarines, large baking and steaming ovens for canteens, and electric glue-pots for industrial purposes.

Royal Small Arms

This began production in 1816. By the First World War it was producing the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield rifle which was the standard British Infantry weapon in both world wars. Over 2 million of these were made during the First World War. Jobs there were well paid and much sought after. By June 1917 7040 men, 1448 women and 1095 boys were employed at the factory. They were producing 10,500 rifles a week.

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Local Hero: Arthur Tom Harman

Recent research has unearthed the story of a local man Private (air mechanic) Arthur Tom Harman of Edmonton who won the Distinguished Flying medal for his part in shooting down a Zeppelin in 1918.

Arthur Tom Harman was born on 27th September 1894 in Edmonton.  The 1901 Census shows him living at 2 Galmer Cottages, Maldon Road. He is living with his father Arthur, his mother Louisa and sister Louisa, age 3. His father’s occupation is given as a general labourer.  Arthur Harman was a pupil at Latymer School. By 1911 his mother is described as a widow.  She is working in a restaurant as a cook. The family are living in Balfour Road. Arthur is sixteen and has left school and is working as a printer. Prior to joining up he worked as a mechanic at the South Metropolitan Gas Company in Rotherhithe

Arthur Thomas Harman
Arthur Thomas Harman

On his service record he is described as 5ft 10½ in with brown hair and grey eyes. His next of kin is recorded as his wife Elsie Howard who he had married in 1917. She was the daughter of a Detective Sergeant Thomas Howard who was in the CID at Edmonton.  He joined the navy in January 1916 and transferred to the RAF in April 1918.

The action for which he received the DFM took place off the north east coast on 5th August 1918. A squadron of Zeppelins attempted a raid on the coast. One of the Zeppelins was L70 which was one of the latest X class on its maiden flight. On board was Fregattenkapitan Pieter Strasser Chief of the Naval Air Division. Two of the planes that went up to tackle the Zeppelins fired on L70.  In one plane was pilot Major Cadbury and Captain Leckie and in the other Arthur Harmon and probationer Lieutenant Ralph Keys. Between them they succeeded in destroying the large German airship. It was actually Harman who shot down the airship while Keys concentrated on piloting the plane. The Zeppelin fell into the sea with the loss of all 28 of the crew. According to the Tottenham & Edmonton Weekly Herald the commander of the Zeppelin had a ‘record of baby-killing in England’. Due to a fault in the plane’s instruments Keys thought he was at 500ft when in fact he was a 50ft and commenced a nose dive. The plane crashed and both Keys and Harman were injured. Fortunately both recovered. The loss of Strasser who was the driving force behind the use of Zeppelins meant that this was the last Zeppelin raid on Britain during the First World War.

Over the last two years volunteers and staff at the Enfield Archive have been working to produce a list of those who died in the First World War. This has involved many hours searching through newspapers, school records and the Commonwealth War Graves website and matching names to addresses.

We have also had contributions from members of the public who gave us details of their relatives who had died.  There are now 2740 names. The list has now been added to the Enfield council website: http://www.enfield.gov.uk/info/1062/local_studies/3285/enfield_at_war.

If there is anyone we have missed we would love to hear about it so that their names can be included. You can contact us at local.history@enfield.gov.uk  Tel: 0208 379 2724 or write to us at Enfield Local Studies Library and Archive, 1st Floor Thomas Hardy House, 39 London Road, Enfield EN2 6DS. Or just pop in and tell us and you can see what else we hold about the impact of both World Wars in Enfield. We are open 9.30 – 5pm Monday to Friday. The photos are of a few of the local men who laid down their lives during the First World War.

Also added to the website (see link above) is the film of the dramatized re-telling of the shooting down of the Cuffley Airship which was brought down by William Leefe Robinson in 1916.

Wreckage of the Cuffley airship
Wreckage of the Cuffley airship

Air Raid Shelters

During the First World War local authorities were unprepared for air raids on civilian targets. Enfield Urban District Council did not provide air raid shelters instead advising people to stay in their homes. Southgate set aside parts of Bowes Road and Winchmore Hill schools as shelters. Edmonton allowed people to shelter in the Town Hall and later in the railway arches on Bridge Road. Some people constructed their own shelters in their back gardens.

With the advent of the Second World War local authorities were much more aware of the danger to the civilian population from air raids.  Preparations began at the time of the Munich Crisis in 1938. Trenches were dug for people caught in the open to shelter in.

LIBRARY GREEN 1939
Digging trenches on the Library Green Enfield 1939
Oakwood School shelters
Oakwood School shelters

People used many existing structures as shelters: the Underground, caves, basements and railway arches. Companies were legally required to provide shelters for their staff. In January 1939 a programme of shelter building began. The open trenches dug at the time of the Munich Crisis were lined and covered over with concrete or steel. The standard varied greatly. Some were dirty, smelly and prone to flooding. One of the better ones was beneath the car park of the Regal cinema in Edmonton.

Surface shelter Forty Hall
Surface shelter Forty Hall

For private shelters there were two main types. The Anderson shelter was like a miniature Nissen hut made of corrugated steel and sunk three feet in to the ground in the back garden and covered in earth. Two and a quarter million Anderson shelters were provided by the government before the blitz. They were free to people earning less than £350 a year. They were prone to flooding and cramped but could withstand anything but a direct hit. By October 1939 Enfield had delivered 4719 Anderson Shelters to local residents.

Anderson shelter
Anderson shelter

For those who didn’t have a garden there was the Morrison shelter. This was a steel framed box which could be used as a table during the day. Although this provided protection from falling rubble and flying glass during the Blitz it was no use against the V1s and V2s later in the war.

Instructions for assembling the Morrison shelter
Instructions for assembling the Morrison shelter

At the outbreak of War it was assumed that a gas attack was almost inevitable. Local authorities had to make provision for dealing with mass casualties. The plan below was intended for a church in Southgate. The centre of the plan shows provision for 66 bodies and there is a designated bay for dealing with contaminated bodies. Fortunately the expected gas attack never happened and although there were deaths not in the numbers anticipated.

Plan
Click on plan to see details

First World War Air Raids

Bomb damage corner of Southbury Road and Hertford Road
Bomb damage corner of Southbury Road and Hertford Road

 

The existence of airships and planes brought the war to the civilian  population in a way not experienced in previous conflicts. The number of street lights was restricted and others partly darkened. The first bombs dropped in the area fell on the night of 2/3rd September 1916. At about 1.30 am airship SL11 dropped bombs on the Stud Farm at Clay Hill killing three horses. Bombs were dropped at Worlds End Lane, Chase Road and other areas of Enfield and Ponders End. The airship was shot down by Lieutenant Leefe Robinson and crashed in Cuffley.  From 1917 the Germans used the long range Gotha bombers for raids on the country.

We only have a couple of photos of bomb damage from the First World War. As well as the one above we have a photo of a nurse pointing to the crater made by a torpedo.

 

Torpedo crater at North Lodge
Torpedo crater at North Lodge

If anyone has any other photos showing the effects of bombing in the First World War we would love to see them.

The Enfield Town First World War Heritage Trail is now available from all Enfield libraries.

Newspapers articles 1914 -1918

Since August 2014 we have been posting articles from Local Papers (Enfield Gazette, Southgate Recorder & Tottenham & Edmonton Weekly Herald) of a hundred years ago.  Some are serious, some are silly. They have been chosen to reflect the mood of the time in our local area. They can be found on the Enfield Council website. Last week we posted a very patriotic article from the Southgate Recorder about George Thomas Brown who had four sons serving in the armed forces. The reporter hoped that “their example should fire all the young men of military age, unmarried, fit and without binding home ties who have not offered themselves for service to hesitate no longer.” Three of the four sons seem to have survived the war.  Ralph Adair Brown was killed in action on 1st July 1916. four sonsThe picture shows George Thomas Brown of Palmerston Road with his four sons: Dr David Peebles Brown, Atholl Steadman Brown, Ralph Adair Brown and Lindsay George Brown.

Enfield Town First World War Heritage Trail

WW1 walk

   This walk is part of the Enfield at War Project. It is a very easy walk, no hills and takes about 30 minutes. It takes in sites of significance  for Enfield during the First World War.The leaflets are available at the Enfield Local Studies Archive and Library, First Floor, Thomas Hardy House, 39 London Road, EN2 6DS. E-mail: local.history@enfield.gov.uk. Tel 020 8379 2724. We will be sending copies to all Enfield Libraries shortly. Here are some of the photos in the leaflet:

Women postal workers at Enfield Post Office 1915
Women postal workers at Enfield Post Office 1915
Temporary cenotaph outside Barclays Bank 1919
Temporary cenotaph outside Barclays Bank 1919
Elm House, gentleman's Row
Elm House, Gentleman’s Row
Recuperating soldiers in the grounds of Enfield Palace.
Recuperating soldiers in the grounds of Enfield Palace.