This film is part of Free

8,000 Men on Strike at Woolwich Arsenal

Munitions workers down tools, weeks before Britain enters WWI.

Non-Fiction 1914 1 mins Silent


Just weeks before Britain entered WWI, thousands of munitions workers went on strike at Woolwich Arsenal - a major site of armaments manufacture. Characteristically, the British press were quick to lampoon the strikers. But, whatever their grievances, the jovial cloth-capped workers in this Topical Budget newsreel item show no sign or rowdiness or rioting - even the policemen are smiling.

The cause of the strike was a dispute around the Arsenal’s use of non-union labour. A few days after this film's release, The Spectator magazine disapprovingly reported the "sudden surrender of the Prime Minister (Herbert Asquith) to the demands of the strikers." Topical Budget's coverage of the Woolwich walk-out (probably choreographed for the camera) makes an interesting counterpoint to the common 'factory gate' film, as perfected by Blackburn-based filmmakers Mitchell and Kenyon.