Leeds, Leeds Star
Curator Lucy Moore with the clock loaned to the exhibition by David Wilcox
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Leeds Museums and Galleries object of the week- commemorative Barnbow clock

A poignant reminder of one of the city’s worst tragedies, this commemorative clock is also a fitting tribute to the timeless story of the famous Barnbow Lasses.

The clock was loaned to Leeds Industrial Museum’s Women, Work and War exhibition by local man David Wilcox.

A family heirloom, the clock had belonged to David’s grandmother Eliza Ellis, who was working at Leeds’s Barnbow munitions factory on the fateful night of December 5, 1916.

That night, shortly after hundreds of women began their shifts, the factory’s Room 42 was rocked by a massive explosion which claimed the lives of 35 women, with many more injured.

Eliza, who had recently been transferred from Room 42, survived the blast and is believed to have helped tend to her injured colleagues and move them to safety.

Then in her 30s, Eliza was subsequently awarded the clock in recognition of her efforts that night and it was later passed down through her family.

The clock is now proudly on display as part of Women, Work and War, which honours the vital role the city’s women played in the First World War when they took on the jobs left by men serving abroad, becoming bus drivers, train cleaners, cutters in textiles and tram conductors.

Barnbow itself was one of Britain’s most productive shell factories between 1915 and 1918 and employed around 16,000 people, mainly women making and filling shells for the front. They became known as the Barnbow Lasses.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries said:

“Women, Work and War is a superb tribute to the women who kept the city and the country going during the First World War.

“The story behind this commemorative clock is the perfect example of the courage and determination those women showed and the tremendous sacrifices they made.”

Women, Work and War is at Leeds Industrial Museum until September 24, 2017.

To find out more, visit www.leeds.gov.uk/womenworkwar

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