In February 1924 The Slade Green Filling Factory, situated midway between Erith and Dartford on Crayford Marshes, was the scene of a terrible disaster in which eleven girls and a foreman lost their lives. Between 8.45 and 9 o’clock the girls were working at breaking open Verey light cartridges and extracting powder, there was a sudden flash and in a moment the building of brick and corrugated iron was an inferno of smoke and fire. As the fire reached the unopened cartridges they exploded, appearing like stars among the smoke.
Eleven of the 18 girls were trapped by the fire. Miss Charlotte Coshall, the forewoman and seven of the remaining girls managed to get out of the building, some with their clothes alight. The awful suddenness of the catastrophe and the smoke and fumes prevented any possible chance of rescue.
The Slade Green Filling Factory was originally munition works under Government control but was used thereafter by Messrs WB.Gilbert Ltd for the breaking down of munitions. The factory consisted of a number of buildings, all separate from each other and reached from Slade Green by a narrow winding road over the marshes. Close to it on the Erith side are the Thames Ammunition works.
Questions were asked in parliament regarding the accident, put to the first ever labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, Viscount Phillip Snowden under Ramsay McDonald. See Link below to Hansard press.
When help eventually arrived only one girl was alive, Miss Edna Allen, and she was terribly burned. She was taken to Erith Cottage Hospital but died during the night. Below is a picture of the mass grave provided for the victims.
The manor belonged to the Bishop of Bayeux, a half-brother to William the Conqueror, at the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, although because of the construction it is believed to predate that thime. By the 12th century a moated manor house stood on the location of the ruins we see today. In the 15th century, the manor was held by an official in the courts of Henry V and Henry VI. The house was rebuilt a number of times but the site was abandoned in the 1930s. The adjacent 17th century Howbury Tithe Barn is a listed building (pictured).
An inside original tithe barn (not Howbury)
A tithe (or tenth in old English) is one tenth of a part of something paid a contribution to a religious organisation or tax to government. Today tithes are normally voluntary and paid in cash or stocks, whereas historically tithes were required and paid in kind, such as agricultural products. Several European countries operate a formal process linked to the tax system allowing some churches to assess tithes.
The first Tithe rights were granted in 855 by King Ethelwulf this was for taxation purposes, tithes were later granted to Churches. They were transfered to private hands after the disolution of the monasteries by Henry the 8th. A redemption of rights process was started in 1960, this continued until 1977. Below is a redemtion Notice.
Historically a tithing (or sometimes tything) was an administrative unit, originally one tenth of a hundred and later a subdivision of a manor or parish. The term implies a grouping of ten households, the tithing leader or spokesman, was known as a tithing-man.
The term originated in the tenth century, when a tithing meant a group of ten adult males (over the age of 12), each of whom was responsible for the other members actions and behaviour, a system known as frankpledge. It later came to be used in a wider range of legal, fiscal and estate management contexts.