National Filling Factory No.13 – White Lund, Morecambe

Inside one of the shell filling, assembly, and inspection huts at the N.F.F. No.13 (c.1916-18)

Facility Type & Function:

National Filling Factory (N.F.F.) –  Filling of explosives into 6″, 8″, 9.2″ and 12″ shells plus  60-pounder high explosives shells.

Brief History:

The area selected for this filling factory was a 260-acre site at White Lund on the outskirts of Morcambe. To facilitate the movement of materials and labour both onto and off the site, the factory was serviced with its own railway sidings plus a connection to the London, Midland and Scottish Railway via the Settle Junction and Morcambe Branch Line. It comprised a range of approximately 150 buildings including munitions assembly units, 16 bonded stores, a paint shop, an empty shell store, site stores, explosives magazines, a general office, a canteen, an electric powerhouse, and a central workshop.

A site map of N.F.F. No.13 showing its railway sidings (top of image) and main road entrance plus site offices and canteen buildings (top right) – May 1917

The contract for the construction of the N.F.F. No.13 was awarded by the Ministry of Munitions to Michell Brothers Limited. Work commenced in November 1915 and the site formally opened in July 1916 when it was put under the management of Vickers Limited. In 1917, the site’s workforce numbered an average of 4056 people, 2504 of whom were women.

The site’s munitions production lines consisted of parallel production facilities each comprising wooden huts with felt rooves. Of these, 6 of the assembly units were deemed as high hazard working areas due to an increased risk of explosion. For safety reasons, the munitions assembly huts were well spaced out to prevent the risk of a site-wide explosion propagation in the event that one part of the facility suffered an accident. The site filled a wide range of different shells types with the high explosive  Amatol (a mixture of TNT and ammonium nitrate). Towards the end of the war, it was also engaged with filling chemical munitions.

A view of N.F.F. No.13 during its construction (c.1915-1916) clearly shows one of the large earth blast walls running across it.

On 1st October 1917, the majority of this factory was destroyed by fire and a series of resulting explosions which thankfully only killed 10 people. An account of this disaster can be found by following the following web link.

The demands of the war meant that within a short time the factory was rebuilt, this time using brick as the prodominent building material instead of wood. By the Summer of 1918 N.F.F. No.13 returned to production filling HS (mustard gas) shells.

Immediately after the end of the war, N.F.F. No.13 was engaged in breaking down
unwanted ammunition and it was during this activity, on 14th January 1920, that 9 people were killed in a further accident on the site. Soon after this the site was decommissioned.

By the early 1930s, part of the former N.F.F. No.13 site was being used as a Tarmac Works.  Much later in the site’s history, it was re-developed as an industrial trading estate. Its original brick-built power generation house still survives.

N.F.F. No.13’s Original Power Generation Building

Location Details:

White Lund near Morecambe, Lancashire – National Factory Area No.2

Associated Token, Check & Pass Issues:

Type I

Function: Canteen / Refreshment Token

Material: Iron

Design: Uniface with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular, 31.9 mm

Obverse: Incusely stamped legends around the outer edge and within the centre field read respectively N.F.F 13 and COCOA (Note 1). The latter is placed between two raised lines with ornate border decorations above and below each line respectively. All within a raised beaded border.

Reverse: Blank

Date: 1916 to 1918

Maker: Unknown

Published References: Yarwood, J.F. & Johnson, M.C. – November 2019 Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page 38. MMT128.


Type II

(Image courtesy of J.F. Yarwood)

Function: Unknown (Note 2)

Material: Iron

Design: Uniface with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular, 30 mm

Obverse: Incusely stamped legend in two lines around the outer edge reads NATIONAL FILLING FACTORY / MORECAMBE with a star decoration/ornament around the edge below (Note 1). All within a raised line outer rim border.

Reverse: Die stamped identification number 1522 struck across the centre of the field.

Date: 1916 to 1918

Maker: Unknown

Published References: Yarwood, J.F. – Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. MMT011.


Type III

(Image courtesy of J.F. Yarwood)

Function: Unknown (Note 2)

Material: Unknown

Design: Uniface with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Octagonal  of unknown size (possibly 30 to 32 mm)

Obverse: Legend around the upper edge reads NATIONAL FILLING FACTORY and around the lower edge. MORCAMBE .  (as spelt on check) with the identification number 469 stamped inclusely within the centre field.

Reverse:  Blank

Date: 1916 to 1918

Maker: Unknown

Published References: Yarwood, J.F. – Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. MMT012.


Notes:

  1. The use of a die producing a largely incuse token legend and design is noted as being unusual.
  2. Possibly used as either a time registration check, a pay collection check, or a works identification pass.

 

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