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"A Tragedy that rocked the Nation"
A Blast From the Past 1924

February 19th: The Slade Green Filling Factory, situated midway between Erith and Dartford on Crayford Marshes, was the scene of a terrible disaster yesterday in which eleven girls and a foreman lost their lives.
Between 8.45 and 9 o'clock the girls were at their work breaking open Verey light cartridges and extracting powder. Suddenly there was a flash and in a moment that building ? of brick and corrugated iron ? was an inferno of smoke and fire. As the fire reached the 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 more recently has been used by Messrs WB.Gilbert Ltd for the breaking down of munitions. The factory consists 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.
Some of those who escaped turned back at once but, finding it impossible to reach the unfortunate girls inside, rushed towards the gates of the works screaming for help.
One eye witness said the foreman who died had tried to lift a girl through the window but the heat and smoke were too great and he fell back.
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.The inquest will be opened at Crayford tomorrow (Wednesday) and a memorial service will be planned later.

January 21st: Vladimir Lenin, the father of the Russian Revolution, died today after a long illness. He was 54. Following the civil war and famine that gripped Russia after 1917, Lenin helped to create the Soviet state, but leaves behind bitter rivalries in the Politburo.
January 22nd: Ramsay MacDonald has become Britain's first Labour Prime Minister. He was appointed today by the King and takes power, depending on the goodwill of the Liberal Party for survival. The new minority government is not expected to last long.
February 3rd: Woodrow Wilson, former President of the United States, died today. He helped to create the League of Nations to "make the world safe for democracy" and was shattered by the US Senate's rejection of US membership.
February 16th: The eight?day railway strike is over but now a dock strike has paralysed every port in the country including Chatham. Immediately the price of bread has been increased by 1/2d to 8.1/2d a loaf.
March 31st: Britain has its own national airline at last. Imperial Airways has been formed by the merger of four companies and has a fleet of 13 aircraft flying from Croydon.
The aeroplane manufacturers, Shorts of Rochester, have built their first all?metal aircraft. The first is a flying boat known as the Cockle and is fitted with two Blackburne motor cycle engines. The second is a landplane which has been entered in the Lympne flying competition.
April 1st: Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi party in Germany, has been sentenced to five years' imprisonment for high treason.
Rochester has welcomed an exciting new paddle steamer to the river. She has been christened the Medway Queen.
July 30th: The eighth Olympic Games held in Paris were memorable for the performance of two Britons on the track. Eric Li ddell, the Scottish Rugby international switched to 400 metres to avoid competing on a Sunday and set a new record. Harold Abrahams, the Cambridge law student, triumphed in the 100 metres to beome the first European to win the Olympic title.
The ancient Hemsted estate at Benenden has been sold in lots. The house, renovated by Lord Rothermere, will become a girls' school. Sadly, the massive Hemsted oak, one of the largest in Britain has been felled. The trunk 5 ft 6inches at the base will be exhibited in the British Empire Exhibition.
August 20th: Agreement has been reached in London to allow 3,000 UK citizens to emigrate to Canada and live on farms. It is believed that many of the applicants live in Kent.
November 6th: After yet another General Election, the Tories are back in power with a massive majority. Stanley Bald win is Prime Minister once again and he has named Wins on Churchill as his Chancellor of the Exchequer.
November 19th: The new Watling Street by-pass from Dartford to Strood has been opened by the Prince of Wales.
There is uproar in Sevenoaks as the ancient Market House in the High Street is converted into public lavatories. No one, it seems likes the idea, but no?one can produce a workable alternative scheme.
December 24th: Eight people died today in Britain's worst air crash when an Imperial Airways aircraft plummeted to earth just seconds after taking off from Croydon aerodrome.
The children's writer E.Nesbit better known in the Romney Marsh area where she lives as Mrs Bland Tucker has died aged 66. She spent the last years of her life with her second husband Captain Tucker at The Long Boat in St Mary's Bay where she looked out "between the marsh and the sky upon the lovely little hills of Kent". She is buried at St Maryinthe?Marsh.