Spurred into an unprecedented surge in production by the conflict raging in Europe, Leeds became one of the country’s most important wartime industrial powerhouses.
Now a century later, the thousands of workers who toiled in the city’s factories and mills are being honoured by a stunning new display.
The installation at Leeds Industrial Museum, once the world’s largest woollen mill, has seen hundreds of red and yellow poppies brought together in a vibrant new piece created with the help of the local community.
Individuals, groups and organisations were asked to create their own poppies to be part of the Armley Mills Remembers display, and came up with the idea to include yellow flowers in a nod to the wartime workers who often had “canary” yellow skin from working with materials like cordite.
Over the four years of warfare Leeds factories continuously churned out countless supplies to keep allied soldiers warm, clothed and well-armed.
Robyn Carrack, the Leeds Museums and Galleries’ project worker who has helped bring the display together said:
“The First World War was the catalyst for a massive spike in production the likes of which the world had never seen, and the demands on factories and those who worked there became enormous.
“Cities like Leeds in particular played an absolutely crucial role in keeping the war effort going and making sure troops were supplied with the equipment they needed on the front lines.
“Without their contribution, the military machine would literally have ground to a halt and, as we reflect on the 100th anniversary of the war ending, it’s important that we remember them. It’s been amazing to see how communities have come together to help us do that.”
By the end of the First World War the city of Leeds had produced 53 million shirts, 2500 field guns and 566,000 tonnes of completed ammunition to support the war effort.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said:
“The 100th anniversary of the Armistice is a time when we reflect on the immeasurable sacrifice made by the thousands who fought and died, but also when we remember those whose everyday lives were changed forever here on the home front.
“Workers in Leeds played a pivotal role in keeping the war effort moving and it is inspiring to see their memory being honoured in such a beautifully poignant way by the people who live in our city today.”
The new display can be seen at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills until November 25 and is included in museum admission.
For more information about the museum, visit: www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries