St Helens sisters wartime exploits revealed

Historic image shows canary girls at work in a Chilwell munitions factory
Historic image shows canary girls at work in a Chilwell munitions factory
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Head over to Central Library this April, where the wonderfully British theatre production ‘Canary Girls’ is being held as part of the new Cultural Hubs – Arts in Libraries programme.

It’s summer 1914. Sisters Rose and Lizzie work as maids; it’s a world of deference, bed-making and poor pay.

But when war breaks out in Europe, adventure-seeking Rose becomes a shell worker, persuading her procedure-loving sister Lizzie, to follow her to a world offering more money, exciting work and union activity – making munitions for the war effort.

It seems like a new start, but as the sisters discover the dangers of shell work, they realise their dreams are pulling them in opposite directions.

As old and new worlds collide on the factory floor, each sister must ultimately decide, which takes more courage – following your dreams, or giving them up for the ones you love?

Funny, heartfelt and tender; Canary Girls is a tale of two sisters well and truly at war. ‘Canary girl’ was the nickname given to female munitions factory workers. It arose because repeated exposure to the toxic and explosive substance trinitrotoluene (known as TNT) could die the skin an orange-yellow colour, reminiscent of the canary bird.

The production is brought to Central Library by Mikron Theatre Company on Saturday, April 30, from 1pm.

Canary Girls is suitable for all. Tickets cost £6, £5 (St.Helens Library Card Holders), £3 (concessions). Book online at or call into any St.Helens library to purchase your tickets.

Cultural Hubs is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and allows St Helens Council to enliven the borough’s network of 13 libraries with performances, plays, gigs, workshops, courses, events and exhibitions.

This fifth programme sees the team again working with local people to choose what they want to see in the borough’s libraries as well as a focus on working with local artists to exhibit their work.

If you haven’t already, sign up to the monthly Cultural Hubs e-zine via or follow the team on Twitter @sthelensarts to see all the latest news and events.