A PROGRAMME which tells the story of Britain’s war preparations goes behind the scenes at a Wearside plant
The first of two programmes about the First World War, presented by Sunderland-raised BBC correspondent Kate Adie, is broadcast on Monday.
Kate visited BAE Systems Munitions’ £75million plant in Washington as part of The Killing Factories.
It is part of the BBC’s World War One At Home series and tells of the urgent construction in 1915 and 1916 of factories in response to the so-called “Shell Scandal” – the public outcry at the shortage of ammunition.
With men away at war, the factories employed thousands of women – and in the North East, wounded and exiled Belgian soldiers – to produce artillery.
Kate filmed in Washington to show how the safety and working conditions of modern munitions factories are unrecognisable from those built in 1916.
The journalist, who has written a book about the role of women in the conflict, said: “This was the first time, in 1914, that the whole of the country was – whether they liked it or not – involved in the war effort.
“In the North East, there were women in their thousands on Tyneside and right through County Durham who streamed towards the munitions factories.
“They did all kinds of jobs that they had never done before.”
The Killing Factories is broadcast at 7.30pm on Monday on BBC One in the East Midlands and available on the regional variants on satellite TV.
It will be shown on BBC Four later in the year.