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Imperial War Museum North commemorate First World War women

PUBLISHED: 12:35 25 February 2014 | UPDATED: 12:35 25 February 2014

Women workers in an Oil and Cake factory having tea, Lancashire, 1918. Oil cakes were used to feed cattle

Women workers in an Oil and Cake factory having tea, Lancashire, 1918. Oil cakes were used to feed cattle

IWM

Photographs now on display show the role Lancashire women played in the First World War

IWM_Q28254: Women workers stacking oil cakes at an Oil and Cake factory, Lancashire, 1918IWM_Q28254: Women workers stacking oil cakes at an Oil and Cake factory, Lancashire, 1918

The First World War was not only fought in the trenches and mud-drenched fields of France and Belgium and it did not solely involve men, as these images prove. They show women at work for the war effort in Lancashire factories and are the opening salvo in the Imperial War Museum North’s commemorations of the centenary of the conflict.

The pictures shown here are four of six huge photographs by the official First World War photographer GP Lewis which are now on display outside the Manchester museum.

George Parham Lewis, an official photographer of the home front, specialised in documenting heavy industry and photographed women workers in the glass, vehicle and food industries.

The images in the free display document women’s vital contribution to the war effort in factories across the North West of England almost 100 years ago.

Women working in an asbestos factory, Lancashire, 1918. Asbestos, now recognised as a dangerous material, was used in many different ways such as in buildings and engines.Women working in an asbestos factory, Lancashire, 1918. Asbestos, now recognised as a dangerous material, was used in many different ways such as in buildings and engines.

Taken from the Imperial War Museum’s photographic archive, the images were jointly commissioned by IWM and the Ministry of Information, demonstrating the wide range of roles performed by women Home Front.

Graham Boxer, the director of IWM North, said: ‘The First World War was a major turning point that shaped the world we live in today, including the roles of women in society.

‘These powerful images depict women at work during an extraordinary time. It is a fitting start to a major programme of exhibitions, displays and events marking the First World War Centenary at IWM North.’

And next month the museum will launch the largest exhibition ever created exploring the North West of England during the First World War. The Street to Trench exhibition will include personal stories and objects never before on public display to reveal the region’s role in a global conflict and how the region was shaped by the conflict.

The Women and Industry photographic display is open now, while IWM North’s major exhibition marking the centenary, From Street To Trench: A War that Shaped a Region, will open on April 5. For more information, visit www.iwm.org.uk

Are you related to any of the women pictured? If so, contact IWM on Twitter @I_W_M #IWMNorth or Facebook.com/iwm.north.

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