Sheffield Committee on Munitions of War Archive

Ref: MS 76

Title: Sheffield Committee on Munitions of War Archive

Correspondence and other documents relating to the Sheffield Committee on Munitions of War during World War I, 1915-1919

Dates: 1915-1919 (includes a few later records to 1924)
Level: Fonds
Extent: 6 boxes plus 27 bound volumes
Name of creator: Sheffield Committee on Munitions of War

Administrative / biographical history:

The collection consists of the records of the Sheffield Committee on Munitions of War, a body which existed during the First World War, consisting of correspondence with the Ministry of Munitions relating to contracts for armaments, together with copies of contracts placed, stock records, minutes, and various ledgers relating to output, materials and accounts. Included are several copies of a bound volume entitled Graphic Illustrations of Output, each inscribed with the name of a member of the Committee, showing in graph form the output of shell gauges, brass cartridges, trench howitzers, steel helmets, various types of shells, etc., and the applications for the return of men from military service to work in munitions.

Under the Munitions of War Act of June 1915, intended to improve armaments production, the Government established a Ministry of Munitions, which set up Committees on Munitions in various parts of the country. In Sheffield a Committee under the Chairmanship of Col. Hughes had already been established, and the Ministry confirmed this existing Committee as an official Board of Management. A document issued by the Committee shortly before the end of the war in October 1918 for a visit by Winston Churchill, then Minister of Munitions, explains that: "The first organised effort for the production of Munitions of War was undertaken by Col. Herbert Hughes, C.B., C.M.G., early in the year 1915 when several meetings of Sheffield Manufacturers were held, and on 14th June in that year the present Committee was appointed". It goes on to describe the part played by the Committee in harnessing the efforts of the many small engineering and allied firms in Sheffield, such as those in the silver trades, to war production (the large manufacturers being already engaged in such work on behalf of government before the war) so successfully that they contributed over 11 million articles – many types of munitions, various metal products such as trench howitzers and steel helmets, and even the wooden boxes in which they were delivered to the armed services, those being produced by local wood-working firms - to the forces' insatiable demand for armaments throughout the conflict.

The address of the Committee is given on the document as the University Department of Applied Science, St. George´s Square, Sheffield, indicating the close involvement of the University in the Committee´s work. Professor William Ripper, who held the Chair in Mechanical, Electrical and Civil Engineering and acted as Vice-Chairman, played a prominent part in its operations, giving special attention to the production of gauges of various kinds by his Department. The Committee also organised the return of many badly-needed skilled workers from the forces to war-work at home. Following the death of Col. Hughes the Chairmanship passed to Albert John Hobson (later knighted), a Master Cutler, who had long been associated with the University through the early campaign for its foundation and who was appointed the Committee's Treasurer in 1910 and Pro-Chancellor of the University in 1916. Other members of the Committee were Col. A.W. Chadburn, W.H. Ellis (also a Master Cutler), David Flather, W.M. Gibbons and Walter Tyzack.

[Notes based on information in The Sheffield Committee on Munitions of War (October 1918, unpublished), Arthur W. Chapman: The Story of a Modern University: a history of the University of Sheffield (1955) and John Turner, ed.: Businessmen and Politics (1984)]

  • Related collections: None
  • Source: Transferred from the Department of Metallurgy, University of Sheffield, 1968
  • System of arrangement: Ad hoc (various files and bound volumes)
  • Subjects: World war, 1914-1918 -- Great Britain; Defense industries -- Great Britain -- Sheffield (Yorkshire -- England)
  • Names: Sheffield Committee on Munitions of War; Sheffield (Yorkshire-- England); University of Sheffield - Department of Mechanical, Electrical and Civil Engineering; Ripper, William, 1853-1937
  • Conditions of access: Available to all researchers, by appointment
  • Restrictions: None
  • Copyright: University of Sheffield
  • Finding aids: Outline list available