This week at The Archive we have added 53,195 brand new pages, as we continue to augment our regional newspaper holdings from across England and Wales. Over the past seven days, we have added new pages to nineteen of our existing titles, from Bedfordshire to Birkenhead, from Harrow to Hertford, from Retford to Runcorn.
So read on to discover which of our titles we have added to this week, as well as to find out about the Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) Bridgend, which was one of the largest munitions factories in Britain during the Second World War, and was said to be one of Britain’s largest factories ever.
This week we are going to shine a light on three of our updated titles, which hail from Wales and England. First up is the Glamorgan Gazette, to which we have added nearly 17,000 pages over the past seven days. First published in 1894 in Bridgend by John Evans of the Central Glamorgan Printing and Publishing Company, the main content of the Glamorgan Gazette was local news. Appearing every week, this newspaper continues to be published today, and is the town of Bridgend’s main local newspaper.
Circulating from Maesteg, across the Vale of Glamorgan, as well as in the towns of Bridgend and Porthcawl, the Glamorgan Gazette shines a spotlight on local sporting news, local entertainment and community events. The newspaper is also a repository of job, car and property advertisements.
We remain in Wales to highlight another of our updated titles of the week, which is the Llanelli Star. The Llanelli Star was founded in the Carmarthenshire market town of Llanelli in 1909, and like the Glamorgan Gazette, it is still published to this day. Indeed, this publication has the reputation of being one of the ‘best read newspapers’ in the area, with a focus on ‘truly local news.’ This devotion to local news has led to the Llanelli Star gaining a ‘special place in the hearts of the community.’
Finally, we would like to highlight the Cambridge Daily News, to which we have added over 12,000 pages over the past seven days. Still in print today as the Cambridge News, the Cambridge Daily News was founded in 1888 by William Farrow Taylor at the cost of just one halfpenny. With the reputation of being ‘First in enterprise, circulation and influence,’ in the early twentieth century, by the twenty-first century the Cambridge Daily News had won Regional Newspaper of the Year twice.
One Of Britain’s Largest Factories – ROF Bridgend
Identified in the 1930s as the site for a munitions factory due to being far away from potential bombing sites in England’s south and south east, its excellent logistics and its plentiful supply of labour (this area of South Wales being hit hard by unemployment), by 1940 Royal Ordnance Factory Bridgend was in full production, employing nearly 40,000 people. With such a huge work force, ROF Bridgend was the largest single-site employer in the United Kingdom, and we were intrigued to uncover more about its story in the pages of our newspapers.
Indeed, local newspapers from the area, including the Glamorgan Gazette, shine a wonderful light on the strong community that ROF Bridgend fostered. For example, on 6 July 1945 the Glamorgan Gazette reported on the charity efforts undertaken by those employed at the factory, under the headline ‘Comforts for Troops.’ It was, however, a very different type of fundraising than what we are familiar with today:
In the short period of 30 weeks the Smoke Section of the R.O.F., Bridgend, have made a remarkable collection of £450 worth of cigarettes which has been distributed weekly to the wounded soldiers at the local hospitals and within a radius of 30 miles, each solider receiving his turn and fare share of the smokes.
The fundraising efforts had been led by the Blue, Green and Red Shifts, with Mr. Brin Evans of Gorseinon acting as the honourable secretary, and Mr. Harold Lewis of Morriston acting as the honourable treasurer.
A further flavour of the community spirit of ROF Bridgend was evidenced by the Glamorgan Advertiser on 10 August 1945, which reported on the Bridgend ROF Carnival. The Carnival saw the selection of a beauty queen, with Miss Elizabeth Morris beating four other finalists to take the crown. The newspaper provided this report on the day’s events:
Although weather conditions were not very favourable, carnival spirit prevailed, and with roundabouts and various shows and other organised events, which included a glorious firework display on Tuesday evening, the factory employees and others had an excellent time.
But by this time, the summer of 1945, when the war had come to an end, ROF Bridgend would be no more, having been designated as ‘War Duration Only.’ The doors of the factory shut, and production came to an end, with local newspapers detailing how the site would come to be used.
On 27 July 1945 the Glamorgan Gazette reported on how ROF Bridgend would become a trading estate, like other ROF sites across Britain:
It was announced on Tuesday by Sir Philip Warter, of the Board of Trade, that in the scheme for the distribution of industry and elimination of the old special areas where unemployment was rife during the inter-war period, Royal Ordnance Factories are to be turned into trading estates. The plan includes the Bridgend Factory with an employment target of 7,000.
Meanwhile, parts of the factory found a novel new use – as a new club house for Maesteg Golf Club, as the Glamorgan Advertiser of 27 September 1946 reported:
The members, led by Mr. Si Hughes, have done a good job of work in removing the old building and the plans have been passed by the local council for the erection of the new building which has been purchased from the Bridgend R.O.F.
But what about the workers at ROF Bridgend? We found this snippet from the Glamorgan Gazette, 1 February 1946, regarding the factory’s administrative staff:
A number of girls from Porthcawl and the area have gone to Germany with the Allied Control Commission as typists and teleprinters and several more are leaving in the near future. Most of them were previously employed at the Administration Department at the Bridgend R.O.F.
The closing of the ROF Bridgend facility certainly marked the end of an era, which bought thousands of people together, working together for Britain’s war effort. Through the pages of our newspapers, we can ensure that their work is not forgotten.
This week we have updated 19 of our existing titles.
You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation.
|Bedfordshire on Sunday||1990|
|Cambridge Daily News||1995|
|East Grinstead Observer||1980|
|East Kent Gazette||1905|
|Glamorgan Gazette||1955-1958, 1960-1971, 1973-1975, 1977-1979|
|Hertford Mercury and Reformer||1987|
|Retford, Gainsborough & Worksop Times||1967|
|Runcorn Weekly News||1996|
|Torbay Express and South Devon Echo||1951|