ROF Aycliffe, was a Royal Ordnance Factory built on an 867-acre (3.51 km2) site off Heighington Lane, Aycliffe, County Durham, England during the early 1940s.
The factory's workers included around 17,000 women from the surrounding towns and villages, who worked filling shells and bullets and assembling detonators and fuzes for the war effort. They became known as the "Aycliffe Angels" after a Nazi propaganda broadcast from Lord Haw-Haw threatened that "The little angels of Aycliffe won't get away with it" and promised that the Luftwaffe would bomb them into submission.
By its nature the work was very dangerous and many workers were killed and injured during the manufacturing process; however due to the secrecy surrounding the factory and its workers, many incidents went unrecorded and unreported in the news and their efforts went unrecognised.
In 2000 local newspaper The Northern Echo launched a campaign to have their work officially recognised, this led to a memorial service which was attended by Prime Minister and local MP Tony Blair and the Queen.A permanent memorial was also placed in Newton Aycliffe town centre commemorating their efforts.
The marshy location was chosen as it was an ideal site, shrouded in fog and mist for much of the year providing cover against bombing by the Luftwaffe.It opened as ROF 59 (Filling factory early in 1941, resulting in the construction and opening of two new stations on the former Clarence Railway at Simpasture and Demons Bridge.
As a munitions factory, ROF Aycliffe operated 24 hours a day, employing over 17,000 workers in three shift groups. Most of the workers were women. They were transported from surrounding areas onto the site by bus and train, with the most local workers arriving on foot or by bicycle.
During its existence, the factory produced finished munitions including bullets, shells and mines. Operational for just over four years until the end of World War II in 1945, by which point it had produced some 700 million bullets and countless other munitions.The factory was designated as a 'Top Secret' installation and surrounded by high fences with barbed wire.
The factory was visited during the war years by Winston Churchill and members of the British Royal Family. Many well-known entertainers of the day also performed at the factory for the workers.
After the war, the factory closed and the site was turned into the Newton Aycliffe Industrial Estate in the late 1940s.Many of the original buildings are still standing today.
Cordite is a family of smokeless propellants developed and produced in the United Kingdom since 1889 to replace gunpowder as a military propellant. Like gunpowder, cordite is classified as a low explosive because of its slow burning rates and consequently low brisance. These produce a subsonic deflagration wave rather than the supersonic detonation wave produced by brisants, or high explosives. The hot gases produced by burning gunpowder or cordite generate sufficient pressure to propel a bullet or shell to its target, but not so quickly as to routinely destroy the barrel of the gun.
Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) Bridgwater was a factory between the villages of Puriton and Woolavington in the Sedgemoor district of Somerset, UK that produced high explosives for munitions. It was slightly above sea level, between the 5 and 10 metre contour lines on Ordnance Survey maps. BAE Systems closed it when decommissioning was completed in July 2008.
Newton Aycliffe is a town in County Durham, England. Founded in 1947 under the New Towns Act of 1946, the town sits about five miles to the north of Darlington and ten miles to the south of the city of Durham. It is the oldest new town in the north of England, and together with the bordering Aycliffe Village and the north part of School Aycliffe, forms the civil parish of Great Aycliffe. The population of the town at the time of the 2011 census was 26,633.
ROF Glascoed was initially a UK government-owned, Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF). It was designed as one of 20 munitions filling factories. It was planned as a Permanent ROF with the intention that, unlike some other similar facilities, it would remain open for production after the end of World War II. After privatisation of the Royal Ordnance Factories in the 1980s it became part of Royal Ordnance plc and later a production unit of BAE Systems. It was served by the Great Western Railway's Coleford, Monmouth, Usk and Pontypool Railway from its opening in April 1940 until 1993.
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ROF Thorp Arch was one of sixteen Second World War, UK government-owned Royal Ordnance Factory, which produced munitions by "filling" them. It was a medium-sized filling factory.
A Filling Factory was a manufacturing plant that specialised in filling various munitions, such as bombs, shells, cartridges, pyrotechnics, and screening smokes. In the United Kingdom, during both world wars of the 20th century, the majority of the employees were women.
Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) Elstow was one of sixteen UK Ministry of Supply, World War II, Filling Factories. It was a medium-sized filling factory,, which filled and packed munitions. It was located south of the town of Bedford, between the villages of Elstow and Wilstead in Bedfordshire. It was bounded on the northeast by the A6 and on the west by a railway line. Hostels were built nearby to accommodate the workers who were mostly female.
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ROF Kirkby, was a large World War II Royal Ordnance Factory filling munitions. The factory was based in the rural area of Kirkby, on the outskirts of Liverpool, Merseyside. The rural location was to reduce the potential damage from any accidental explosions. Munitions were produced from September 1940 to March 1946.
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Hitachi Newton Aycliffe is a railway rolling stock assembly plant owned by Hitachi Rail Europe, situated in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, in the North East of England. Construction started in 2013 at a cost of £82 million, with train assembly commencing in 2015. It was the first factory that Hitachi built in Europe, as a result of it winning the Intercity Express Programme tender. No actual manufacturing operation takes place at the site; it assembles components built elsewhere into completed trains. By October 2017, the plant employed over 1,000 members of staff.
Photographs and brief history of the Aycliffe Angels