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Students Learn About 1917 White Lund Munitions Explosion
100 years ago during World War 1, the area suffered a series of explosions at the White Lund Industrial Filling Factory. Local historian, Tim Churchill delivered a presentation at the Lancaster & Morecambe College Business & Conference Centre to mark the occasion.
Mr Churchill, who spent two years researching the event, delivered a fascinating presentation which included background information on the factory commissioned in 1915 along with many written and verbal accounts from locals and those who were there on that historic evening. Along with around 50 Public Services students, it was heard by former Chair of Governors Brian Jefferson, MBE, Lancaster City Councillor Elizabeth Scott and College Principal Wes Johnson.
Covering 240 acres, the White Lund Industrial Filling Factory employed 4621 people, with 64% being female. The factory supplied three million shells to the British Army during the war.
On 1 October, 1917 a fire broke out in the No.6 TNT Melt House at around 10.30pm. What followed were numerous explosions throughout the night, with the biggest occurring at 2.45am. Shells which had been filled at the factory began to explode and shrapnel could be seen flying overhead into Morecambe Bay and Lancaster. Homes in the local area shook so violently that ornaments fell and windows shattered.
The blast was so loud it could be heard in Burnley and Blackpool; and it was so large it was even seen as far as Liverpool. The site was in flames for three days and nights, with 23 fire brigades assisting to help put out the fire.
The event provided students with a clear perspective into the roles, bravery and values of UK Public Service workers throughout time, with 17 year old Level 3 Public Services student, Chloe Burne explaining, “It was all new to me. I had no idea about the history of the local area and how it affected the community. It was really interesting to learn about this. I was especially surprised to hear that so many women were involved and worked in the ‘Danger Zone’ filling shells.”
The Level 3 Public Services students in attendance were also completing the second phase of the National Citizenship Service (NCS) programme which provides students with an excellent opportunity to engage in a range of activities to enhance their personal and social development.
The White Lund Explosion presentation and NCS programme are just some of the ways that LMC Public Services gain additional learning experiences and Employability Skills which run alongside their academic programme of study. Students also have the opportunity to access a range of experiences at LMC to enhance their future employment aspirations. These include European visits to Slovakia, Poland and Bulgaria, work placement week with Public Service providers, Public Service Conference Week at LMC and working with school children from the local community.
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