Littlewood’s Parachute Division

3 Jan

Littlewood's Parachute Division

Littlewoods converted a warehouse on Hanover Street, Liverpool into a factory for producing parachutes shortly after war was declared in September 1939. Groups of girls who before the war were employed in the company’s pools and mail order divisions were instructed by experts in the techniques of cutting, sewing, rigging, and assembling the parachutes. The first parachute was produced on 11 December 1939 and one month later the first 20,000 parachutes were delivered to the Air Ministry.
During the Second World War, Littlewoods produced 12 million shells, 5 million parachutes, 50,000 dinghies, 20,000 barrage balloons, and more than 40,000 pontoons and storm boats across its 16 factories and employing 14, 000 workers.


7 Responses to “Littlewood’s Parachute Division”

  1. liverpoolblitz January 19, 2014 at 10:49 pm #

    It might be of interest to know that Cecil Moores (one of the brothers who founded the firm) visited the factory on the night of the 2nd/3rd May 1941, going to the roof to see what he could of that night’s raid (which was still going on!). Seeing that the area around Leeds Street and Old Hall Street was lit up with flames, he went over to the company’s pools premises in Leeds Street, only to find it already on fire. This soon got worse when a high explosive hit the building next door and a major fire started which soon spread to the both, burning them out.

    He therefore ordered the night shift at the Parachute Factory on Hanover Street to be abandoned for the time being. It was a fortunate decision for the 450 women who worked there, for the very next night the building where this parachute was made was totally destroyed by high explosives. I believe the firm had other premises where parachutes were made, but this one would have made none after May 1941.

    (Iinformation from the Excellent Port in a Storm, the best day by day account of the May Blitz on Liverpool)

    • liverpoolblitz January 19, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

      Hope you can see this photo Adrian, the Littlewoods Factory would have been in that block of demolished properties on the right

      • homefrontmuseum January 19, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

        Thanks for the extra information Neil; brilliant photo too!

      • liverpoolblitz January 19, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

        Not a problem Adrian, is this a parachute you have at the museum, or just one you’ve seen?

      • homefrontmuseum January 19, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

        It is one that I acquired recently and have at the museum – nice to have such a clear maker’s mark on it.

      • liverpoolblitz January 19, 2014 at 11:27 pm #

        Yes very nice, I was going to say a rarity given what happened to the factory and then I saw how many they were producing!

  2. James Howard May 18, 2016 at 7:12 pm #

    Hello does anyone have any history or information of the production of the Storm Boats by Littlewoods in WW2?

    I am trying to find plans to build a replica as a celebration of the work acheived. I have a fully restored Storm Boat engine to fit to the boat.
    James Howard

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