To the Bridgend Arsenal they came every day, by train and by bus; from Swansea, from Maesteg, from the Rhondda, from Pontypridd, from the Cynon Valley, from Barry, from Merthyr, from the Vale. At one time there were more than 32,000 people working there, 75% of them women. The story of this factory is the story of thousands of workers whose lives were disrupted in a way that the generations that have come after can hardly imagine.
Most had no experience of factory work. They had not so much as filled a banger for November 5th - yet they had to work with volatile and dangerous materials. Inevitably there were accidental explosions. Some 27 died; many were terribly injured. But for the vast majority the experience was enjoyable - even liberating.
This talk about ROF 53 answers the big questions: Why was Bridgend chosen? What was made there? Why was the Arsenal never bombed ? How many people were killed?
And we examine the human side: what happens when your friends put a detonator in your boot? Why were magistrates worried about drunken women? What is the connection between Fry’s chocolate, the England rugby team, and the Arsenal?
As suddenly as it began it was ended. Those who worked at ROF53 went back to the roles they had before. Except that the experience had changed the lives of the people of south Wales for ever.