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National Filling Factory, Georgetown
War Industry during the First World War Q84078.jpg
War Industry during the First World War Q84078.jpg
Winston Churchill being shown around the factory by female workers on 9 October 1918
General information
Location Houston
Owner Ministry of Munitions


The National Filling Factory, Georgetown, was a First World War munitions factory situated near Houston in Renfrewshire, Scotland. It is believed that the Ministry of Munitions owned up to 12 filling factories; Georgetown was known as NFF.4.[1]

History

In May 1915, David Lloyd George, who was the Minister of Munitions wanted to construct four large shell filling factories in Great Britain. He arranged for William Weir who was the Director of Munitions in Scotland to oversee the building of such a facility. Weir selected a management board to find a suitable location for the factory.[2]

Location

A 250 acres (100 ha) site at Fulwood (near Houston) was selected. The site was chosen as it near to Glasgow, Paisley and Greenock which offered a large labour source. This meant there would not be a requirement to build new housing to accommodate workers at the factory. An abundant water supply was required for processing at the factory. Water was required for powering machines, domestic use and fire fighting. As the River Gryfe, Dargavel Burn and Paisley's civic supply were all located nearby, Fulwood provided an ideal site for the factory.

The nearby Glasgow, Paisley and Greenock Railway was also a major factor in locating the factory at Fulwood. Its line could accommodate goods being transported to and from the factory and workers commuting to the facility. The chosen site also offered over 1,000 acres (400 ha) of flat isolated land for possible expansion if required.[2]

Factory

The factory was to be responsible for assembling 40,000 items of quick firing ammunition and 200,000 lbs of breech load cartridges on a weekly basis. Architects were consulted to draw up plans for a factory consisting of ammunition assembly rooms and areas for the filling of cartridges. Other buildings to be constructed included workshops, power station, offices, canteens, shifting houses, boiler house, staff accommodation and a railway station. Estimated construction costs were £160,000. Sir Robert McAlpine construction company were selected to build the factory and commenced on 25 September 1915. David Lloyd George paid a visit to the factory and at the request of the board the new factory was to be called 'Georgetown' in homage to the minister. Production at the factory began in January 1916 with 200 women assembling cartridges. By the end of June staff numbers had grown to 3,229.

As demand for munitions grew, another factory was built at the site. The new building was called factory 2. Completion of the new factory increased the area of land used to 540 acres (220 ha). Construction costs for the finished area were calculated to be £1,451,354. By June 1918 the factories employee numbers reached 11,088.[2]

Railways

At the factory there were approximately seventeen miles of standard gauge railway tracks and fifteen miles of narrow gauge trolley tracks for internal transport. Six locomotives were available for shunting purposes and a mechanical haulage system moved specially built wagons around the factory. The six wheeled wagons were designed to carry weights of up to 1000lbs and around 1000 were built. Georgetown railway station was used by the facility during production but closed years later.[2]

Post war

WW1 ended after the armistice was signed on 11 November 1918. During that month the factories wound down production and Georgetown officially closed on 30 November 1918. A small number of staff were retained to clear up old stock, handle stores and other auxiliary services. It was envisaged that 3,000 new houses were to be built in the area however these plans never came to fruition. Some parts of the site went on to become the southern part of the Second World War munitions facility, known as Royal Ordnance Factory, Bishopton.[1][2]

References

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