The fascinating history of the Yorkshire factory that appears in new BBC drama World On Fire

Braime Pressings
Braime Pressings
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TV viewers have been captivated by the BBC's epic World War Two drama World On Fire, which aired on Sunday night.

The series tells the story of several different characters who are spread out across Europe as war is declared. The cast includes Sean Bean as a Manchester pacifist and veteran of the trenches.

The canteen includes changing rooms and toilets which were provided for the women hired to work there

The canteen includes changing rooms and toilets which were provided for the women hired to work there

One of the locations which features in the drama is Braime Pressings, an Edwardian factory in the Hunslet area of Leeds.

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Location scouts have been gushing over its Grade-II listed canteen, which was built to feed World War One munitions workers, for decades. The likes of A Touch of Frost, The Great Train Robbery and Peaky Blinders were filmed here before the World On Fire shoot last winter.

It's still used today as a works canteen, although it hasn't served hot meals since the 1990s.

The sheet metal workshop is still run by the Braime family - current chairman Nicholas Braime is the grandson and great-nephew of the two brothers who founded the company in 1888. The Hunslet factory was built in 1910.

The impressive canteen was built during World War One for the female workforce. It can now be hired for weddings and events

The impressive canteen was built during World War One for the female workforce. It can now be hired for weddings and events

The firm now have big plans to make the canteen - which is replete with period features, including a marble bar and parquet flooring - more accessible to the public. Three years ago they entered into a partnership with local event planners Dine, who also manage The Mansion in Roundhay Park and Rise Hall in East Yorkshire. Dine market the canteen as a vintage wedding and party venue.

"We've had quite a lot of TV series come here for filming - we've lost count! When the Peaky Blinders cast were here we should have asked for their autographs really," said Nicholas, who is a third-generation Braime.

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"It's mainly grown through word of mouth, and it's nice to get the workforce involved as extras. We worked round the World On Fire filming, as we felt it was beneficial. Quite a large outdoor area was cordoned off for the changing rooms and toilets, and there were a lot of people on the site.

"I think the canteen is so well-preserved because it's never fallen out of use. We had the Leeds Gilbert and Sullivan Society give two performances recently on the upper floor, and we're trying to bring it back into use for social events. We're very proud of it."

There were separate dining floors for men and women

There were separate dining floors for men and women

The building of the canteen in 1916 turned out to a decision that cemented the factory's place in social history, as it is believed to be the first works dining hall in the country provided specifically for female staff.

Women formed between a third and a half of Braimes' workforce during World War One, when the site converted to armaments manufacturing. Many of the men whose jobs they took were killed at the Somme, and there is a memorial to them in the canteen.

"There were three shifts and they worked through the night, so they needed hot meals and somewhere to get changed. It was an early form of emancipation for women as the war opened up job opportunities for them. The canteen was considered the height of luxury at the time, which is why it was built in such a grand style."

The room had many uses after the war, including a spell as a snooker hall. From the 1950s, weekly tea dances were held there and it became a social centre for the Hunslet community.

Chairman Nicholas Braime is the third generation of the family to have run the business

Chairman Nicholas Braime is the third generation of the family to have run the business

"They didn't serve alcohol at the time. It became well-known outside the factory for the dances, and a lot of marriages resulted from couples meeting there."

As well as weddings, Braime also hope to allow local theatre groups and societies to use the facility for shows.

And the exposure on World On Fire is both accurate and poignant, as Braime was a munitions factory and a target for Nazi bombers during the 1940s.

"It's a lovely building and we want more people to enjoy it.

"I'm not aware of any other productions that are coming here to be filmed - but then I'm often the last to know!"

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The history of Braime Pressings

The canteen retains many original features

The canteen retains many original features

- The firm was founded by the Braime brothers in 1888 to produce oil cans, and later diversified into metal pressings. The current buildings were constructed from 1910-14, with the canteen added in 1917. The factory was used to make munitions during World War One with a mainly female workforce, and it was the need to provide hot meals for them which led to the building of the canteen

- There were separate dining floors for men and women. It was the first works canteen in Leeds, and had mahogany worktops and stained glass windows

- After the war, the company continued to produce armaments as well as car parts

- The factory was targeted by the Luftwaffe during World War Two but not damaged, although several surrounding residential streets were bombed