KING George V and Queen Mary visited the Vickers shell filling factory at

White Lund, Morecambe on May 16 in 1917.

The following day he inspected the shipyard at Barrow as part of a wartime

morale-boosting tour in the North of England

The Barrow shipbuilding and engineering firm had started work on building

the factory at White Lund in December 1915.

The first shell was filled with explosives on July 18 in 1916 and by the time

of the royal visit - nine months later - a total of 1.5m shells had been filled.

The factory worked with shells of a calibre of six-inch to 12-inch.

By May in 1917 the factory had used 8,000 tons of explosives.

The factory covered 400 acres and had 11 miles of railway track.

Output was 10,000 shells each week with the help of 1,000 men and 2,000


The weekly wage bill was £6,500.

A rotary machine provided a blast of hot air to carefully dry the high

explosives at Morecambe.

The explosives were mixed together under pressure in mills before being

rolled into a powder.

Then the high explosives were put into shells.

It was noted: “This is done by women workers.

“It is done firstly by hand, with the use of a boxwood rammer, and finally

under hydraulic pressure.”

The women worked in cubicles with side walls which provided some

protection in case of an accident.

The glass wall behind them would be designed to blast outwards and could

be easily replaced!

An alternative method also used at Morecambe was to fill shells with melted


The liquid was allowed to cool and solidify inside the shell.

The shells were sealed and plugged – ready for the fuse.

There was a department for painting the shells ready to be dispatched

The factory had its own laundry.

It was noted: “Workers are supplied with overalls which are fire-resisting.

“The overalls are frequently washed, and after being dried are steeped in a

fire-resisting solution.”

A total of 3,000 overalls were washed every week.