ROF Newport, anti-tank gun production, 1940s

ROF Newport, canteen entertainment, 1940s

Jessie Giblin in Night Shift, 1943

Dame Laura Knight, Ruby Loftus screwing a breech ring, 1943. Courtesy IWM, London
Wartime Newport:
The Home Front

The Gun Factory

The Number 11 Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) in Newport produced anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns between 1941 and 1945.

The Factory was built, equipped and in production in under a year. It manufactured vital wartime armaments employing local men and over 1200 women. Working ten or twelve hour shifts was arduous but the workforce’s commitment to the war effort was unstinting.

For relaxation there were recreational activities including dances, sports days, theatrical and musical entertainment. The Factory was regularly visited by broadcasting celebrities like Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels and the Joe Loss Orchestra. Important wartime dignitaries who visited the Factory included the Minister of Labour, Ernest Bevin MP.

In November 1941 the Factory was the location for a film entitled Night Shift made by the Crown Film Unit. It was shown in cinemas throughout Britain in May 1942.

Recognition of the Factory's engineering achievements came in 1943 when Dame Laura Knight was commissioned to paint what was to become an enduring wartime image. The painting Ruby Loftus screwing a breech ring, is now in the collection of the Imperial War Museum in London.

This study includes previously unpublished wartime photographs taken at the Royal Ordnance Factory to inform visitors of engineering procedures. It also contains the personal experiences of ROF workers.

Today these photographs and poignant reminiscences provide us with a unique record of the ROF's role during the Second World War.

Many of these photographs appear in the book Wartime Newport: the Gun Factory (ISBN 0-9519136-0-3) which was published by Newport Museum and Art Gallery in 2006.

Copyright: Newport Museum & Art Gallery Newport South Wales NP20 1PA


Number 11 Royal Ordnance Factory
ROF Stories