National Shell Factory – Liverpool

Facility Type & Function:

National Shell Factory (N.F.F.) – The manufacture of 18-pdr. and 2.75″shells plus forgings and burster containers.

Brief History:

In June 1915 it was decided by the Ministry of Munition, under David Lloyd George, and the Liverpool Corporation that the city should establish a shell making factory. Rather than delay events by constructing a purpose built factory the Corporation offered to turn over the Market Hall in the North Haymarket district of the city. This was subsequently adapted and a set of 15 lathes and associated machinery and belt drive systems were  quickly installed. The N.S.F was run by a local munitions management committee.

A map (c.1923) showing the Market Hall, North Haymarket (centre) which became the home of the N.S.F. – Liverpool

By the end of December, 1915, over 4,000 18-pounder high explosive shells were being manufactured per week, and a start was made in the manufacture of 4.5 in. and 6 in. high explosive shells. Initially the workforce was male only and operated on a 12 hour back to back shift system.

In January 1916 the first female workers were introduced to the factory. Unlike their male counter parts they operated on a system of three 8 hour shifts. By December of that year the number of women had been greatly increased to meet the Government’s target of 85% of the site’s total workforce. The remaining men acted as supervisors and maintenance staff.

The image above was taken on the 22nd July 1915 and shows just how quickly the  N.S.F. in North Haymarket was constructed

On the 15th May, 1917, the factory was honoured by a visit from his Majesty the King. On arrival at the factory he was received by the Lord Mayor who presented members of the Liverpool Munitions of War Committee and officials. During his tour of the factory his Majesty congratulated the City Engineer upon the organisation and lay-out of the factory.

After the armistice in 1918 production at the N.S.F. dramatically fell and the workers released. By mid-December of that year all the women staff had left. Thereafter the site was decommissioned and it reverted to its former use as a market hall.

This entire district of Liverpool has been extensively redeveloped and nothing is left of the former site.

Location Details:

Agricultural Hall, North Haymarket, Liverpool Lancashire (now Mersyside) – National Factory Area No.2

Associated Token, Check & Pass Issues:

Type I

Function: Canteen Token (Note 1)

Material: Brass

Design: Bi-facial with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,  25.8 mm

Obverse: Raised legend within beaded and raised border reads . NORTH HAYMARKET  .  plus N.S.F. in centre of field

Reverse:  The denomination 1D    in raise numbers and letters in the centre field within a wreath of laurel (right) and oaks (left) leaves. All within outer beaded and raised borders.

Date: 1915 to 1918

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Unknown


Type II

Function: Canteen Token (Note 1)

Material: Brass

Design: Bi-facial with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,  19.6 mm

Obverse: Raised legend within beaded and raised border reads . NORTH HAYMARKET  .  plus N.S.F. in centre of field

Reverse:  The denomination ½in raise numbers and letters in the centre field within outer beaded and raised borders.

Date: 1915 to 1918

Maker: Unknown

Published References: Mal’s Tokens – Factory Tokens (website)


Notes:

  1. These token were used in the N.S.F.’s on site canteen. According to an article in the Liverpool Courier in 1920 this canteen had seating to accommodate 600 persons. It provided the workers with good substantial and well cooked food at the lowest possible prices. Alternatively if the workers preferred to bring their own meals to work the canteen would re-heat them.

 

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