In the early days of the war the headline ‘Women’s Work’ in the Shipley Times & Express meant either fund raising or making and distributing parcels of ‘comforts’ for the serving men. Here are just a few examples culled from the weekly reports from every area across the district. On 18 September 1914, the newspaper published a photo (above) of employees of Messrs W & J Whitehead, New Lane Mills, Laisterdyke, “knitting socks for soldiers during their dinner hour. The firm have provided the materials and numbers of the employees are doing the work in their spare time.” And a month later, came the report that “Idle sewing group already provided 1,400 items for troops and Belgian refugees.” In February 1915 the newspaper reported that “A woman rattled a collecting box for four or five months in Market Street, Bradford
and collected a total of £100.” It was estimated that Mrs Knowles (right), who lived in Rushcroft Terrace, Baildon before moving to Bradford, had collected “no fewer than 23,000 coins, weighing about 4cwt.” She had gone to Market Street early and late, reminding passers-by that ‘every little helps.’ “This is a very fine instance of woman’s work in war time and Mrs Knowles will have the satisfaction of knowing that she has helped many of the dependants of our brave fighting men, as well as Belgian refugees and other sufferers through the war,” the reporter remarked. By this stage groups of women were beginning to assess what they had achieved in the first few months of the war. 350 garments The Ladies’ section of Shipley Distress Committee reported that in January alone they had distributed 350 garments to soldiers at home and abroad and a further 200 “in the locality, chiefly amongst the families of soldiers. In February 1915, the women of Clayton worked out “the aggregate result of their endeavours since the outbreak of war” and came up with some extraordinary figures. In all they had despatched 3,134 articles, with 156 parcels going to
troops connected to the village. The total included: “327 shirts, 598 pairs of socks, 328 scarves, 233 cholera belts, 216 caps and helmets, 64 pairs of mittens, 54 ‘house-wives’ and 1,318 miscellaneous articles such as bed jackets, towels, handkerchiefs, padded splints etc. “In making these articles 1,286 yards of flannel, 368 yards of calico and 164lb of wool have been used.” Hand painted The work had been funded by donations of £122 2s 11½d which included £1 from Master Charles Briggs and 10s from Master Horace Baguley, who had sold hand-painted paper, and 6s 6d from Mrs Greenwood of
Cambridge Street, aged 84, who had sold a ‘fancy knitted “edge” which the old lady worked.’ And as the first year of the war came to a close we learn that the women of  Shipley had provided “nearly 9,000 items of clothing, 2,530 of them given to Shipley men who enlisted. “In the past week they had sent a large parcel to one of the base hospitals in France. Sewing meetings “Ladies attend in the Saltaire Institute on Monday afternoons from 3 to 5 to receive gifts of materials or garments, whilst sewing meetings are held fortnightly in the Social Room.” Most of the sewing was done by volunteers but the women had also raised funds to provide sewing work for women who were in need of a job and had paid out £50 15s 10d in wages. “The committee have received in subscriptions up to date £169 14s 9d and have expended £165 19s 10d leaving a balance of £3 14s 11d. “Material was given in the value of about £70 and various working parties contributed 2,870 garments.” Meanwhile, Mrs R Butterworth of Apperley Bridge, had collected over a thousand cigarettes for wounded soldiers at Rawdon Convalescent Home.
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Women ‘do their bit’ using their domestic skills
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