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Blake's Munitions War Memorial, Margravine Cemetery

A Grade II Listed Building in Fulham Reach, London

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Latitude: 51.4891 / 51°29'20"N

Longitude: -0.2166 / 0°12'59"W

OS Eastings: 523913

OS Northings: 178191

OS Grid: TQ239781

Mapcode National: GBR BG.XQM

Mapcode Global: VHGQY.6TBT

Entry Name: Blake's Munitions War Memorial, Margravine Cemetery

Listing Date: 14 June 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1437915

Location: Hammersmith and Fulham, London, W6

County: London

District: Hammersmith and Fulham

Electoral Ward/Division: Fulham Reach

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Hammersmith and Fulham

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Alban Fulham

Church of England Diocese: London

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First World War memorial and grave marker commemorating those who died in an explosion on 31 October 1918 at Blake's munitions factory, Hammersmith.


MATERIALS: Rough-hewn granite.

DESCRIPTION: The memorial is located within the Margravine Cemetery (now Hammersmith Cemetery) and comprises a Celtic-style wheel-head cross surmounting a tapered shaft set on a square tapered plinth.

The cross and shaft bear the inscription in lead lettering which reads: TO/ THE/ MEMORY OF THOSE WAR WORKERS/ WHO/ DIED/ FOR/ THEIR/ COUNTRY/ IN THE/ EXPLOSION/ AT BLAKE'S/ MUNITIONS/ FACTORY/ NOVEMBER 1918.

Underneath are inscribed 13 names and ages of those who lost their lives in the explosion.

The memorial is set upon a single-stepped base which is inscribed: ERECTED BY HENRY FOREMAN OBE, MP/ MAYOR OF HAMMERSMITH.

The memorial is set over the grave within a granite kerbed enclosure which bears the maker's name but is mostly illegible: .. A . LKER & CO/ . ELM GROVE/ H'SMITH, and the grave number.


Around 600 people were killed in accidental explosions at explosives works during the First World War. Most loss of life can be attributed to the manufacture of the high explosive TNT and its derivative amatol. In British service this was a new explosive and the principal production hazard was thought to be fire. Factories were established in converted buildings in built-up areas: a decision that had devastating results when a TNT plant exploded at Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, where 53 died, and later at Silvertown, east London, killing 69. In both incidents, workers and local residents lost their lives. Explosions in purpose-built factories could be equally shattering: at Faversham, Kent, in April 1916, 108 were killed, only exceeded by an explosion at Chilwell, Nottingham, where there were 134 fatalities.

One such accident occurred at Hammersmith and was commemorated by a memorial raised at the Margravine Cemetery in Hammersmith as a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the members of the local community who lost their lives. It is both a memorial and the grave of 11 women and two men who died in the explosion on 31 October 1918 at the munitions factory where they worked, WE Blake Explosives Loading Company Ltd in Wood Lane, Hammersmith.

Although the memorial states that the explosion was in November, the date recorded on the death certificate of Mary Ann Rumball was 31 October 1918.

A Lieutenant Gardiner stated, "a fire occurred at the filling factory at about 3.30pm on the 31st October, 1918 … in the shed used for the filling of thermalloy caseless bombs.... in the filling shed there were about 15 employees... one of our female examiners (Miss Isobel Maguire), Colonel Hogg, Captain Benson (US Army), Mr Snowden, manager of Messrs Blake’s, and examiner in charge, Mrs Lansley… and two employees of Messrs Blake’s were in the packing shed inspecting completed caseless bombs, when suddenly a dull thud was heard coming from the filling shed followed by flames."

Colonel Hogg was taken to hospital with burns to his head and also shock. Mrs Lansley was slightly burned but remained at her post after treatment and was back at work the next day. 11 women aged between 21 and 46 were killed, and two men. The coffins were taken to the cemetery in army lorries.

Reasons for Listing

Blake's Munitions War Memorial is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this community, and the sacrifices it has made in the First World War, not only on the battlefield, but at home, working for the war effort;
* Architectural interest: a simple yet dignified granite wheel-head cross.

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