BRITISH WESTINGHOUSE

Continuing our exhibition highlighting some of the women who played football in Trafford, today’s focus is on the women of British Westinghouse works in Trafford Park.

Women have been playing football in Trafford for over 120 years with one of the earliest accounts of a women’s football game in the borough dating back to December 1895, when the British Ladies Football Club’s North and South teams played each other during a tour match at the West Manchester football ground in Stretford. Founded by Nettie Honeyball in 1894, the club was meant to challenge the popular notion that women were ‘ornamental and useless creatures’. 

During the First World War, many factories in the borough – most notably within the large industrial estate of Trafford Park – established women’s football teams. Like their male counterparts, female workers would play recreationally during their lunch breaks and, eventually form teams. The most famous of these Trafford teams hailed from the British Westinghouse Electrical Company (after 1919, known as Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Company) and attracted crowds of several thousand to venues across northern England.

On January 30 1918 the Rochdale Observer reported the details of the Westinghouse Screw department’s goalless draw with the Manchester Ironfounders, highlighting the defensive work of the Ironfounders’ players. It also commented that the game raised the ‘substantial sum’ of £64 for the Rochdale Federation of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers and was watched by almost 3,000 spectators.

Westinghouse wore white jerseys with blue caps while their opponents donned black and white jerseys and tight-fitting caps. It seems that Westinghouse also played in blue skirts.

Sadly, we do not have a full list of the games the Westinghouse team played but we do know they played the famous Dick, Kerr Ladies team in Preston in November 1918 and that they occasionally used the name ‘Manchester Ladies’, such as when they played at Old Trafford in September 1917, presumably to attract a wider audience. That day they played a team calling themselves Cheshire Ladies but was probably the works team of Brunner Monds from Cheshire.

It is understood British Westinghouse were one of the 12 teams included in a Manchester Ladies league that applied for FA affiliation during the war.

British Westinghouse postcard

British Westinghouse postcard. National Football Museum, cat. ref. prsfm.2017.2023

British Westinghouse XI V Dick Kerr’s Ladies XI

British Westinghouse XI V Dick Kerr’s Ladies XI, Lancashire Evening Post, Page 1, 22 Nov 1918. British Newspaper Archive

"Munitionettes at Football"

"Munitionettes at Football", British Newspaper Archive, Rochdale Observer, page 4, 30 Jan 1918.

"Munitionettes at Football"

"Munitionettes at Football", British Newspaper Archive, Rochdale Observer, page 3, 30 Jan 1918

Did any of your relatives play football for the British Westinghouse women’s team or for any other Trafford based women’s team?

We are keen to hear about those who have contributed to this rich history of women’s football in the area. If you are from Trafford or played for a team based in our borough then please get in touch.

Your memories will help to develop our archive and ensure future generations are aware of the experiences of women footballers.

In addition, we are keen to locate objects, match programmes and memorabilia associated with women’s football, so if you have an item that you feel may help please get in touch.

If you would like to help Trafford Council to tell this story, please contact Trafford Local Studies on 0161 912 3013 or contact Gary James, Trafford EUROs Engagement Officer at gary.james@talktalk.net

This project is part of a National Lottery heritage programme which seeks to bring this history into the light through a number of physical and virtual exhibitions, and to create a documentary record of the game at this moment, through oral history interviews with local players and fans and a contemporary collecting programme.

BRITISH WESTINGHOUSE