A group of workers at C.F. No.5 packing small arms ammunition into cases c.1914-18
Facility Type & Function:
Cartridge Factory No.5 (C.F. No.5) – This was a munitions assembly facility within the Royal Labouratory section of the Royal Ordnance Factory (Arsenal), Woolwich.
On-going research indicates that C.F No.5 was a fully integrated shell production facility located close to the south-west perimeter of the site of the 1,300-acre Royal Ordnance Factory in Woolwich. It is not clear between which dates this part of the Royal Laboratory operated but during the Great War it is known to have produced small arms ammunition. This may have been just one of a larger range of products.
Based on the plan below C.F. No.5 comprised of Buildings The site of Q.F.C.F No.4 occupied approximately 10 acres of land which was largely bound by a triangular shaped perimeter. Like other parts of the sprawling Royal Ordnance Factory complex, it was served by the Royal Arsenal Railway to facilitate the better movement of both staff and materials. The Q.F.C.F. No.4’s many component buildings largely comprised wooden huts with corrugated iron roves. In addition to the munitions production and assembly huts the site contained, inspection facilities, raw materials, component and tool stores, separate magazines for storing explosives, cordite and fuses, offices, a workers’ bicycles shed, staff changing rooms and toilets, short break rooms plus both men and women’s separate dining rooms along with a central boiler house.
Part of a 1918 map of the Royal Ordnance Factory, Woolwich showing the layout details of C.F No.5 in the south west part of the facility. Courtesy of Royal-Arsenal-History.com (RAH).
As can be attested from surviving photographs of groups of workers from the C.F No.5 the largest proportion of its workforce during the Great War were women.
Further historic background relating to the Royal Ordnance Factory, Woolwich can be found in the video presentation below.
Woolwich, Greater London (formerly Kent)
Associated Token, Check & Pass Issues:
Function: Unknown (Notes 1 to 3)
Material: Tin plated iron
Design: Uniface with a plain edge
Shape & Size: Hexagonal, 21.0 mm tall and 23.5 mm wide.
Obverse: Raised legend in upper field reads C.F.5.M. and in bottom field the incuse stamped identification number 258 above a raised line. In the centre of the field the mark of value 1/2D (Notes 2 & 3).
Reverse: Blank Date: c.1914 to 1918 (Note 3).
Published References: None. First identified by Malcolm Johnson in late 2021. Second example reported by this web site in 2022.
- It is likely that these tokens were issued to the site’s workforce and were used as canteen tokens. As such, they would have been exchangeable for refreshments at the factory’s segregated sex dining rooms. The above site map of 1918 clearly shows a Y.M.C.A. operated canteen adjacent to C.F. No.5.
- The addition of identification numbers on this series of tokens is unusual. It is unclear if these relate to sequential token issuing numbers or workers’ individual identification numbers.
- These tokens are of similar style to those recorded for the Q.F.C.F No.4. These are believed to date from 1916 to 1918.
- The meaning of the letter “M” in legend of this token is unclear.