The Munition Girls
Commissioned by John Baker & Co, this famous oil painting, entitled ‘The Munition Girls’, shows women working at Kilnhurst Steelworks during the First World War. The artist was Alexander Stanhope Forbes (1857-1947). Like many other steelworks during the war, John Baker & Co’s Kilnhurst site was converted to make shells and ammunition. As men volunteered or were conscripted to fight in the British Army, women became the main work force in industry and farming. Munitions workers could often be picked out in a crowd because of the distinctive yellow colouring of their hair and skin caused by the sulphur used in production. They were nicknamed ‘canaries’.
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Glossary: oil painting