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Woolwich choir unearths WW1 song telling 'romance at Royal Arsenal' factory
A choir has unearthed a First World War song telling the tale of a young lover and her work at Woolwich’s munitions factory.
Rousing romance She Works at Woolwich Arsenal Now would have filled the music halls of wartime Britain and has been rediscovered by Woolwich Singers 100 years later.
The 1916 work, by Robert Donnelly, tells of a wounded soldier in France who receives a cheering letter from his sweetheart after she gains a job at the Royal Arsenal.
In the song’s chorus, the "young hero" cries to his nurse: "My Florie, she writes and says don’t worry,
"I work at Woolwich Arsenal now,
"Give my message to your chums,
"Girls are working ‘midst the shells and guns
"Altho’ ‘tis tiring, as you’re requiring ammunition for the fighting line,
"We’ll do our share for you out there."
Woolwich Singers founder Wendy Young wants to share the area’s "happy historical" story, where the lovers are eventually reunited at Waterloo.
The 55-year-old mother-of two said: "I just think it is important for the community to know that romance thrived amidst the toil and heat of the ammunition factory.
"A lot of people in our community are unaware of what went on behind the Dial Arch and the role Woolwich played in WW1."
The choir of around 40 singers, from 23 to 92 years old, were introduced to the ditty by Greenwich Heritage Centre.
They decided to share the tune with the wider community as this year marks a centenary since the outbreak of the First World War.
Ms Young, who used to work in Woolwich, founded the choir two years ago after being inspired by TV choir master Gareth Malone.
The teacher of English as a Second Language, who lives off Well Hall Road, Eltham, had no musical experience but wanted to unite Woolwich’s community through the power of song.
She said: "I was just inspired to see communities coming together from different backgrounds.
"Singing breaks barriers down and it is cross-generational, and cross-cultural."
Anyone can join Woolwich Singers, who meet every Wednesday night between 6.30pm to 8pm at the Clockhouse Community Centre, Defiance Walk at £2 per week.
Ms Young said: "Whether you can sing or not, join us anyway.
It's about singing together and having fun."
To find out more visit woolwichsingers.co.uk or call Wendy Young on 07812 477775
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