Moorside - Gordon Routledge


Published November 2020

(Click on the image for a look inside)

                During World War One, the old supply system had proved to be unequal to the Army’s demands for munitions. By May 1915, even though production had increased to some extent, there was still a desperate shortage. Lloyd George was appointed Minister of Munitions and urgent measures were taken to address the deficiency and to generate a significant increase in the output of munitions. By the end of the following year, new National Factories and Munition Works had been established in various parts of the Country.

H. M. Factory Gretna was the largest and produced a new type of Cordite in huge quantities doubling the total amount of Cordite manufactured at a stroke. In a very short timeframe, where previously there were only a few farm houses, two new townships sprang up and suddenly there was a city of 20,000 munitions workers and their families. The streets within the townships were called after the far flung places from whence the people came and to which most returned when it was all over.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, when visiting as a war correspondent called Gretna and Eastriggs: ‘The Miracle Towns.’ In his newspaper article, for reasons of security, he referred to H. M. Factory Gretna as ‘Moorside,’ hence the title of this book. For a factory of this magnitude to be producing Cordite within a year of its inception was indeed a miracle in itself and by reaching its maximum output of 800 tons by 1917 surpassed all expectations. Conan Doyle said: ‘One of the miracles of present day Britain is a place which we will call Moorside.’ He continued to say that: ’Perhaps it is the most remarkable place in the world.’                                                                                                                         This book gives an insight into the war and how it was caused, but primarily tells the story of the building of these new factories, focusing on the construction of H. M. Factory Gretna, the experts and navvies who designed and built it, and those marvellous people who staffed it and came from all four corners of the world to do so. It was a Mushroom City improvised in wartime and one which was significant in helping to turn around the war and subsequently to alter the course of history in our favour.

Gordon L. Routledge

A4 portrait 224 pages, monochrome, Over 400 images. Price £10 plus £4 P&P in UK