Pages from Kathleen Biddlecombe’s diary .
Part of the Greenwich Local History Library collection.
There is a long history of making guns and gunpowder, first in Greenwich
then in Woolwich. In 1901, there were several private arms factories in
the area, as well as the government works at Woolwich. Women worked in
these factories. The 1901 census lists Gertie, aged 17, working as a loader
in an ammunition works, and Amy, aged 24, working as a cartridge filler.
These were dangerous jobs. Some of the chemicals used were poisonous as
well as explosive. The machinery and equipment could also cause injuries.
In May 1918, Kathleen’s diary tells how her mother’s hand
was hurt by a broken needle.