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Annie Corrin – Gretna Girl

By February 17th, 2020 No Comments

Annie Corrin left Port S. Mary in the Isle of Man, and went to work at the Gretna plant when she was 19. She remained there from August 1917 until early 1919. She received roughly 15/- per week, after board and lodging had been deducted. Despite the fact that these wages were considered to be high for the period after she had sent money to her home she couldn’t afford to go to the cinema or dances in Carlisle or Dornock.

 

Eventually she was billeted in the Central Hotel, near Carlisle station, which had been commandeered for the munition workers. However, about six months later the hotel became a hospital for the war wounded and the girls were sent to the hostels in the Gretna township. These hostels were usually newly erected wooden huts, and the one she was sent to was called “Florence Nightingale Hostel”.

 

Work at the plant as based on a three shift system 7.00am – 2.00pm, 2.00pm – 10.00pm and 10.00pm – 7.00am.

 

Annie had initially been sent to work in the Cordite Section, and was provided with a mop cap, tunic and trousers. Her job was to separate large trays of Cordite, by taking a small handful and smashing the end, to separate the strands. The strands were then put into boxes, similar to fish boxes and weighed. After this procedure had been completed, the boxes were provided with lids which were then nailed down.

 

After six months, she was transferred to outside work in the Loading Sheds. She was provided with an oilskin coat, and sou’wester hat, for this work. She was instructed by a man called ‘Geordie’ into the best methods of lifting and loading the boxes of cordite sticks on to the trucks. The girls then pushed these trucks outside on rail tracks, for about a mile to another shed. Although she never found out what happened in these sheds she does remember that there were usually a couple of girls lying outside in  what appeared to be a drunk state, cause by exposure to cordite.

 

Early in 1919 Annie left the Gretna Plant and returned to the Isle of Man.

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