Ladies in the spotlight for Barnbow story

Women in Leeds are taking centre stage in a new play telling the story of the brave '˜Barnbow lasses'.

Barnbow Munitions Factory, Crossgates, Leeds.
Barnbow Munitions Factory, Crossgates, Leeds.

The Barnbow Canaries has been inspired by real women who worked – and, in some cases, died – at the Barnbow munitions factory in Crossgates during the First World War.

The performance, which has been commissioned to mark the 100th anniversary of the single largest loss of life in the city’s history, runs at West Yorkshire Playhouse from June 15 to July 9

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Scripted by acclaimed writer Alice Nutter, the production features a 60-strong supporting community cast of women who act, sing and dance in scenes throughout the show.

Artistic director James Brining said: “The Barnbow factory employed thousands of women from across Yorkshire who, in the face of tragedy and when the War ended, were ultimately let down.

“It’s a story that isn’t known widely in our own city, let alone nationally.

“It felt urgent that we bring this local history to the forefront, at a time when we can reflect on their sacrifice and pay tribute to their bravery.

“Barnbow Canaries brings together a fantastic cast of performers with a community chorus of women who have auditioned from across Yorkshire, a number of whom are from Cross Gates or have their own personal connections with the factory.

“We’re thrilled to premiere this new play in June as we pay our own homage to the Barnbow Lasses and keep their story alive.”

A total of 35 women died in an explosion at the Barnbow factory on December 5, 1916.

The site had opened the previous year and, as increasing numbers of men were called up to fight in the war, women – affectionately known as the Barnbow lasses – eventually formed the vast majority of its workforce.

For more details and tickets for the show visit