First World War: the women of Buxton Lime Firms

By 1916, steel companies were beginning to complain about the shortage of supplies of limestone being supplied to them by Buxton Lime Firms. The firm said that this shortage was due to the lack of workmen left at the company – by February 1916, over 600 of their men had joined the Army.

Accordingly, like many firms in Britain during this period, Buxton Lime Firms employed women. There does not seem to be very much information about this undertaking, except for a few notes scribbled on the back of the wonderful collection of photographs that we have of women working there. From these, we know that women worked in the following areas:

  • tree felling and wood cutting for quarry and colliery timber
  • dry walling
  • joinery
  • agricultural work
  • the rabbit section (associated with the British Rabbit Society)
  • the goat section (affiliated with the British Goat Society and National Goat Society)
  • painting trucks

For me the excellent find in this file is, as I’ve said, the collection of photographs of women at work. Although these were most likely staged, they give a real insight into a small section of women’s work during the First World War.

Women who were working as part of the goat section (catalogue reference: MUN 4/671)

Women who were working as part of the goat section (catalogue reference: MUN 4/671)

Women painting the side of rail trucks (catalogue reference: MUN 4/671)

Women painting the side of rail trucks (catalogue reference: MUN 4/671)

Building walls and working with stone (MUN 4/671)

Building walls and working with stone (MUN 4/671)

Tree felling and wood cutting (MUN 4/671)

Tree felling and wood cutting (MUN 4/671)

Tree felling and wood cutting (MUN 4/671)

Tree felling and wood cutting (MUN 4/671)

Women workers of Buxton Lime Firms (MUN 4/671)

Women workers of Buxton Lime Firms (MUN 4/671)

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