First World War: Explosives Factories
In early 1914, Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, gave approval for the construction of a new naval cordite factory at Holton Heath, Dorset, with a novel plant to produce and ferment acetone, essential in the manufacture of cordite. At first maize was used, but later in the war a call went out for children to collect acorns and horse chestnuts.
The children knew it was for essential war work, but not its precise nature, and they collected hundreds of tons. The remains of this plant are scheduled. Other new factories were built on a huge scale. At Gretna, Cumbria, the new cordite factory covered 3,600 hectares and by October 1917 employed nearly 20,000 people.
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