Minerva Scientifica Birthday Celebration
19th February 2021Agnes Borthwick (1889-1949)
BORN 19th February 1889, Greenock, Inverclyde, Scotland
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In 2019 we worked with children from All Saint’s Primary School, Greenock, who wrote songs about the lives of the “Georgetown Munitioneers“, the women who worked in the factory overseen by Agnes Borthwick. It’s based on texts from magazines produced by the workers at the time. You will find the song above an absolute delight!
The children were lucky enough to meet two modern day engineers both working in Greenock – Alison Dunne and Louise Larkin.
“How we fought at the end for our Garden City
Our hopes to replace
So much blood, sweat and tears
Were wiped out without trace
Those terrific 2 years as war engineers”
When the war was over many women wanted the site to be made into “Our Garden City”, they wanted a rural setting where they could continue to work and live. They had enjoyed unusual freedoms from normal life – money, independence and excitement and in many cases, despite the dangers of the work, their health was much improved and they had access to a doctor. In the following song, Agnes (sung by Margaret Cameron from the BBC Singers) reflects on this dream which was thwarted when the site was flattened after the war and she disappeared from the records after her marriage. You will also hear Science Historian, Catherine Booth, giving an introduction to Borthwick’s life – at least all that we know of it.
click on the blue button above to listen
Agnes Borthwick was working in the Munitions Factory at Georgetown near Paisley as a supervisor when, in July 1916, she was appointed Works Manager, at the top of the management structure, reporting only to the General Manager of the factory, and in charge of the shell and cartridge filling industrial plants and at least 7,000 workers, mainly women.
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Created by electric voice theatre, Minerva Scientifica is a project that brings together professional performers with community musicians and school children. Together, we raise awareness of the rich heritage and deep connections between music and science, and inspire the next generation of future scientists.