Montage of aviation images. Follow this link to skip navigation.
Link to the aviation archive

Aviation Archive: Aviation Heritage

Link to home page
Link to canals section
Link to railways section
Link to aviation section
Link to learning zone
Link to about this site
Link to send feedback
Navigation ends

Women working World War 1

In Filton the first orders for 50 Bristol Fighters came in August 1916. Further orders for 600 were requested by July 1917 following its successes in the air over the battlefront. Herbert Thomas's employment headache was thus relieved by the decision to employ women.

Because women were segregated from men in the workplace, in July 1916 a new, separate, canteen and restroom was built for them. The War Office also contributed £30,000 towards the cost of erecting a new assembly hall with fabric and dope shops for the large number of women employees.

Working patterns were not easy. Women worked long hours, often under poor conditions on lathes and other unfamiliar machinery; or they built up wings and fuselages and got "high as a kite" on the volatile fabric dope.

While the men were away fighting in the trenches these women found that working in industry was a liberating experience. For some, it gave them independence, as they were able to earn a decent wage. It is said that one woman dared not tell her husband while he was away that she had "gone to work"; while living with her parents she was able to save enough to buy a house.

Go to the next page >

This is page 1 of The Developing Role Of Women In Aviation.
View the complete story contents.

A restored flying example of the famous Bristol Fighter

A restored flying example of the famous Bristol Fighter
Find out more about this image >

Working women circa 1918

Working women circa 1918
Find out more about this image >

Ada Smith and her co wing stringers 1918

Ada Smith and her co wing stringers 1918
Find out more about this image >

  Intro     1     2     3     4