Bryant and May Match Factory, Bow, Greater London

This factory was established by William Bryant and Francis May in 1861 to make safety matchs. At one time it was the biggest factory in London. In 1911 it employed more than 2,000 women and girls. The London matchgirls strike of 1888 started there. This led to the establishment of the first British trade union for women. A blue plaque outside the entrance commemorates the role of Annie Besant in leading demands for better pay and conditions. The factory finally closed in 1979 and the work was moved to Liverpool. In 1988 the site was derelict and became one of east London's first urban renewal projects. The factory building still stands today (2012) and is used as flats.


Greater London Bow


1920s (1920 - 1929)



aerial view oblique town factory industry women work trade union transport steam train railway 1920s (1920 - 1929)