Remembering victims of munitions factory explosion 100 years on

Wayne Levitt at the Barnbow memorial.
Wayne Levitt at the Barnbow memorial.

A ceremony was held to mark the 100th anniversary of a munitions factory disaster which killed 35 women and girls – seven of which were from this district.

The explosion took place at the Barnbow factory in Crossgates, Leeds, on the evening of December 5, 1916.

Relatives of the victims gathered at the scene of the disaster to remember their loved ones on Monday.

Wayne Levitt’s great aunt Edith, from Castleford, died in the disaster which was largely unreported at the time because of a ‘press blackout’.

During the service at Manston Park, he said: “I think that it is brilliant that people have come out in solidarity with them.

“It was women doing men’s work – more than men’s work – and I don’t think they get enough recognition.”

Most of the workers were women drawn from a 20-mile radius.

Victims Helena Beckett and Jane Few were from Pontefract; Mary Gibson, Polly Booth, Eliza Grant and Edith Levitt from Castleford; and Jennie Blackamore was from Normanton.