Some months ago, the Countess of Wessex came to Hereford and amongst other things met in the Cathedral the Canary Girls of Herefordshire. They were munitions workers handling trinitrotoluene (TNT) in the process of making shells for the war effort. Apart from its propensity to explode, it often made the workers ill, turning them yellow, hence the name. In Herefordshire, Canary Girls were the unsung heroes who worked under these dangerous conditions in the Munitions factory in Rotherwas from 1916 to 1950. There were casualties from illness, explosion and bombing but there are a number around to tell their story.
Nicola Goodwin, of the BBC, has been determined that their sacrifice should be better recognised and has run a campaign to achieve this goal. Today, a memorial plaque was unveiled at the Herefordshire Archive and record Centre (HARC), a couple of stone’s throws from the munitions factory itself which is about to undergo a major refurbishment from its current derelict condition to more peaceful uses.
The Lord Lieutenant unveiled a plaque, accompanied by many dignitaries and, more important, Canary Girls who braved the drizzle and ignored their seniority of age.