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Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) : Victoria Hazel Morris Robertson
Date and Place of Birth: 18/8/1900. Most likely born in Carlisle
Date and Place of Death: 15/9/1988, Darlington, County Durham
Parent’s occupations: N/A
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance: N/A
Occupation: After working as an electrician in the electrical maintenance department at Gretna which she began aged 16 in 1916, she was recorded as having unpaid domestic duties in the 1939 Carlisle register.
Place of residence at Gretna: Carlisle
Job title at Gretna: Electrician in the electrical maintenance department
Marital status: Married
Children: Eveyln and Derek
Travels: N/A But she moved from Carlisle to Darlington by the time she was aged 88.
Trivia / any other information: She was a member of the Electrical Association for Women in Carlisle.
Electrical Association for Women
Founded in 1924 to share/encourage benefits of electricity in the household. Founded by electrical engineer, Mrs Mabel Lucy Matthews and adopted by Caroline Haslett of the Women’s Engineering Society. The EAW campaigned for more electrical outlets in household, electrical safety and education on the diversity and benefits of electrical products in the home.
In 1933, the EAW had over 5000 members and 31 branches around England.
The headquarters of the EAW would provide electrical information and training for women. The association also gave lectures and demonstrations for housewives and teachers for example. This provides an insight into the work women including Victoria would have done in the association. The work of the EAW suggests that Victoria wanted to share her knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm as a previous electrician at Gretna to help and educate women especially, on using electrical appliances and their benefits.
Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):
Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher): J. Ritchie, The Gretna Girls Wigtown District Museum publication (1985), pp. 8-10.The University of Warwick PhD Thesis: Brader, Chris, ‘Timbertown Girls: Gretna Female Munitions Workers in World War 1’ (Feb 2001, Warwick), p. 22.
Victoria went to work at Gretna when she was 16. She lived in Carlisle and travelled every day to the plant, by train. She worked in the Mossband section of the Plant, and she remembers that the Carlisle train used to stop at a specially built siding, adjacent to the Plant. She was accompanied on this daily trip by her mother, who worked in what she called the ‘scrub houses’
Victoria worked in the electrical maintenance department, and because of this, she was provided with a distinctive blue uniform, consisting of mop cap, battledress jacket, trousers, and an armband, bearing the letters E.D. There were between 12 and 18 girls employed in this section, and they were supervised by a man called Mr. Forster.
The Girls worked in pairs, checking and repairing light switches and electrical ranges around the various buildings. She remembers working inside one of the shops or workbuildings, where the workers were dressed in khaki trousers and jerkins.
She particularly remembers seeing the cordite coming out of the machines like spaghetti, and also recalls how strong the fumes were.
After the war, Victoria retained her interest in the electrical works, and joined the Electrical Association for Women in Carlisle.