Hull Shells

Ref: C3670912

During the First World War, there was a sudden realisation that industry needed to be re-organised to turn out the vast quantities of material needed to fight a war. This was done in Hull and other areas by setting up local committees. The Hull Committee was led by the charismatic Charles Downs, director of the Hull firm Rose, Downs and Thompson.By following this story a number of wider themes can be explored. These include the state of confusion in which the government found itself. The period of the war saw many changes in the way goods were manufactured: the war introduced standardisation and mass production. The social effects are considered in some detail. Whilst the position of women improved somewhat, social conditions in Hull were poor. The members of the Hull Committee were instrumental in highlighting the need for change.Hull sent 1.7 million shells to war. This story illustrates a period of rapid change in Hull, industry and Britain as a whole.

Additional information about this course


Course aim

The course describes a little known aspect of Hull's history: the manufacture of some 1.7 m shells for the First World War. Students are made aware of the co-operative nature of how the work was organised.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Gain an understanding of how the First World War was fought not only at the front line but also in the mines and factories.
  • An appreciation of the wider issues of industrial organisation (many still relevant to today's society) should be gained
  • Experience of doing personal research and presenting it to the group
  • Appreciation of how to use public libraries and archives

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • Students may be asked to carry out their own research projects

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions
  • A file of work will be kept which will help to record your progress
  • A chance to present your work to the group as a whole for feedback from the group and the tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • Interested students may wish to do some preliminary reading. The tutor will provide a recommended reading list prior to the course.

What can I do next?

  • Experience of and exposure to libraries and public archives could lead to students doing their own research work on topics of their choice or in doing volunteer work for libraries and archives

Download full Course information sheet

Hull Shells


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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