Richmond WW1 Diary 19 January 1917

Image of poppy

Venesta factory explosion

At about 7pm on January 19 a massive explosion in a munitions factory in Silvertown, West Ham, killed 73 people. Many of the workers killed were women, ‘munitionettes’ who had volunteered to do their bit to support the war effort. The explosion happened after the day shift had ended; had it been during the working day, the death toll would have been much higher.

The women were very proud of their service and munitionettes who died were given funerals that echoed military funerals, as seen in this Pathé News reel from 1917.

The explosion injured a further 400 people, and the damage spread across the neighbouring streets. Thousands were left homeless, requiring temporary accommodation in schools, churches, and town halls.

The explosion was heard up to 100 miles away, with residents across Richmond reporting hearing the blast.


2 thoughts on “Richmond WW1 Diary 19 January 1917

  1. PLEASE change the flower image to a poppy! That is an anemone. I know internet searches for ‘red poppy’ or similar often bring up this image, but it is wrong – such flowers would never have appeared on Flanders Fields.

    • Dear Bridget

      Thank you for getting in touch.

      We created a graphic to use on the website, and have been using it for the past couple of years.

      Yes, there are close similarities between the poppy and anemones, and not everyone will agree with our choice. But we are happy that the image represents the themes of remembrance on our blog.

      If one considers that the Royal British Legion poppies don’t look exactly like the flowers seen growing in Flanders, but are recognised as symbols of compassion and remembrance, perhaps we are in good company!

      Kind regards,

      RAH&AW Project

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