East Cumberland Shell Factory, Strand Road
In response to the Shell Crisis of 1915, in which there were not enough artillery shells to supply the front lines, a group of local industry magnates led by Theodore Carr were tasked with finding premises to convert into a factory for the production of munitions.
The Rifle Drill Hall on Strand Road in the city was identified as a suitable site and agreements were made on 18 September to begin production. By late November the first twelve women began their training, followed by many more local women and men not eligible for active service. Production began before the end of the year.
On 18 May 1917, King George V and Queen Mary visited Carlisle as part of a nationwide tour of shipyards and factories supporting the war effort. They were the first reigning monarchs to visit the city in 300 years and were escorted round the East Cumberland National Shell Factory by Theodore Carr and James Morton, two of the city’s industrialists who had helped establish the works. Visits like this were an important way to motivate the workers and thank them for all their efforts providing an invaluable service to the War Office.
257 people were employed by the factory, 81% of whom were women. Early targets to produce 1,500 shells per week were quickly exceeded; by 1917 the factory was producing in excess of 4,000 shells every week. By the end of the war the factory had contributed more than 300,000 shells to the Ministry of Munitions.