Timbertown Girls

IMG_8997A new musical drama telling the story of the thousands of women munitions workers during the First World War began its tour in Gretna followed by performances in Eastriggs, Langholm, Dumfries, Carlisle and Glasgow.

The drama follows girls from Scotland and further afield who answered the nations’ call for women to work in munitions in 1915.

Ten thousand of young women aged 15 – 18 worked at the largest explosives factory in the world at Gretna on the Scottish border making cordite propellant.

Buccleuch Centre 36

The Timbertown Girls cast reflects the age of those at the factory and uses live drama blended with filmed pieces to take the audience into the story. A large rear projection screen dominates the set. Each actor brings their own story to the drama putting into context the vital role these young women played 100 years ago.

The name Timbertown Girls was coined in an article in a newspaper in 1917 as many girls lived in temporary timber hostels at the Gretna Munitions Factory.

Music from the period punctuates this fast paced production with humour and poignancy as the story of the girls unfolds.


Using newspapers, narratives and archive material of the period together with help from leading historians to create an impression of what it was like at the factory as played out by the young women who worked there.

Timbertown Girls’s explores the work conditions and the desire of the girls to ‘do their bit’ but also their experiences of the recreation and leisure opportunities. They worked hard, earned more money than they ever had before and many wanted to spend it at dances, cinemas and fashion.


The factory brought together girls from different backgrounds, accents and values.

I find fascinating as the leading characters in the production are the ages of those that worked there; they were so young by today’s standards. However seriousness the work and the girls worked 12 hour days… it was fueled by a teenage zest for adventure.’


The performances were staged in buildings that were either built for the factory or some relevance to the First World War to total audience of over a thousand.
29/30 May 2015, St Andrews Church, Gretna

5 June 2015, Eastriggs Social Club, Eastriggs

6 June 2015, The Buccleuch Centre, Langholm

13 June 2015, Greyfriars Church, Dumfries

18/19 June 2015, The Undercroft, Carlisle Railway Station, Carlisle

26 July 2015, The Steamie@Govanhill Baths, 99 Calder Street, Govanhill, Glasgow

The production gained a very positive reception from audiences:-

Timbertown Girls, utterly fabulous…

both entertaining and informative from start to finish…

Really enjoyed it, didn’t really know what to expect but we were very pleasantly surprised! Also learnt quite a few things…

Just got back from this wonderful show…

loved every minute of it even had wee tear in my eyes…

an excellent evening last night….

Amusing and thought provoking at the same time…

I needn’t tell you what a brilliant production Timbertown Girls is; the audience applause says it all. I learnt so much – great theatre!


Writer & Producer – Christopher Jones

Director – Judith Johnson

Research Associate – Dr. Christopher Brader

Choreography – Emma Jayne Park

Scenics – David Proudfoot

Stage – Amber Bethune, Beth Smith, Bob McLure, Callum Jeffery, Darren Bell, Ellie Rose Smith ,Glen Cavers, Judith Johnson, Katie McCall, Leona Evans, Mary Hinds, Nicky Henderson,Rebecca Jackson, Ruth Bell, Sadie Cooper

Film – Alex Carpenter, Craig Peacock, Emma Hyslop, Farish Redpath, Jodie Bird, Leah Lockhart ,Les Murray, Michelle Sterling, Rebecca Martin, Scott McCarthy

Voice – Gordon Swindlehurst

Production – Dan Walters, Chris Jones, Beth Smith, Darren Bell, Glen Cavers, Neil Cavers, Denise Cumming, Bryony Graham, Andrew Jones, Hazel Jeffery, Eleanor Oswald, Steve Oswald

Music – Oliver Jones, Phil Cunningham MBE

Film – Tony Grant, PL Productions

Hair Styling -Jackie Beckett

Props – Elaine Cavers

Costume – Tricia Little, Val Ewens, Liz Brader, Val Walker

Make up – Liz Forsyth, Emma Forsyth

Research Acknowledgements – Dr. Christopher Brader – Cumbria Archive Service,  Professor Angela Woollacott – The Australian National University,  Gordon L Routledge – Historian, Dr. Andrew Maunder – University of Hertfordshire

Historians who have supported our project: Professor Sir Hew Strachan, Dr Martin Pugh, Dr. Christopher Brader, Gordon L Routledge, The Women’s Library – London School of Economics, Ministry of Defence – Defence Equipment & Support, Cumbria Archive Service, The Devil’s Porridge Museum, Dumfries & Galloway Archive Service, Carlisle County Library, Tullie House Museum, Eskdale & Liddesdale Advertiser for newspaper archive, Annandale Observer for newspaper archive,  Mark Warby – The Bruce Bairnsfather Society

The communities of Gretna, Springfield, Eastriggs, Langholm and beyond, who have attended our talks and participated in community events.

Members of Centre Stage Theatre Music Group who have performed and entertained audiences across the region for the last two years.

The many community spirited businesses throughout the region who have kindly publicised our events.

Production Acknowledgements –  The West Walls Theatre – Carlisle,  FTS Dyers, Langholm – Dyeing Fabric, S & H Cope, Doncaster – Canteen Benches, The Globe Tavern, Longtown – Original 1916 Furniture, Stead McAlpin, Carlisle – Fabric, Ministry of Defence – Defence Equipment & Support, Neil Cavers – Transport, Students of Dumfries Academy – Scenic Painting

Venues – Richard Greenhow Centre – Gretna, The Anvil Hall – Gretna, The Masonic Lodge – Langholm, The Community Centre – Langholm, Greyfriars Church – Dumfries, Eastriggs Social Club, The Buccleuch Centre – Langholm, Virgin Rail – Carlisle, The Lanes – Carlisle, The Steamie@ Govanhill Baths – Glasgow

Image Acknowledgments – Imperial War Museums, RIBA Library Photographs Collection, The British Library, English Heritage, Cumbria Image Bank, Beamish Museum, County Durham, Musée Quentovic, Étaples-sur-Mer

FlandersFields1418_smallThanks to the many people who have sent us images and information to assist our research.

Thanks to Visit Flanders – The Flemish Government for copies of The Flanders Fields Post and Poppy Seeds


Centre Stage Theatre  is part of the First World War Centenary Partnership led by Imperial War Museums and funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund and Holywood Trust.