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  • Writer's pictureLetters Wander

On HER their lives depend

Wabbit, wheely and wonderful, Gate 2 once rolled back and forth over an entrance of Braime Steel Pressings. The firm was founded in 1888 by two Braime brothers who set about designing and manufacturing the finest of fine oil cans... and they were delightful!⠀

In 1911 the focus of the factory changed to that of munitions for the war effort... coinciding with that modification of manufacturing purpose, the primary gender of their workforce flipped. Women were working like they never had before.⠀

The introduction of female staff meant an upgrade for the building... in 1917 a on-site canteen was constructed. Unlike for men, it was considered necessary to provide female staff with hot meals during their shifts. ⠀

The canteen was never removed, never repurposed... it was updated to separate genders but the on-site eatery remained. While this little facility update might seem unimportant, what it signified was a permanent female presence in a very male oriented industry even after the war was won. ⠀

It was a subtle moment of change but a significant piece of social history, marking the changing employment patterns enforced by the War but seized upon by the skill, hard work and tremendous world changing effort of the Leeds women who helped win the war.⠀

The canteen and what it signified was a contributing factor in the buildings successful ascension to grade II status in 2006. ⠀

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