Housing scheme remembers Newport munitions worker
4:20pm Monday 9th September 2013 in News
The potrait of Newport worker Ruby Loftus at work during the Second World War entitled 'Ruby Loftus Screwing a Breech Ring'
A NEW housing development launching tomorrow on a World War II factory site, is named after a Newport munitions worker.
Ruby Loftus began working at the new Number 11 Royal Ordnance Factory in Cooperation Road, Newport when she was 19.
Before the war she had been a shop assistant in London, but when the blitz began in September 1940 Ruby, her mother and three sisters moved back to Newport to a flat above a shop on Corporation Road, opposite the chemical works.
Amanda Davies, chief executive at the Seren Group, said: “When we started researching the site, one story jumped out from the outset, that of a young, local girl named Ruby Loftus and her unique ability to excel at an engineering feat, traditionally mastered by males.”
The Loftus garden village began its launch today with school children from St. Andrew's on Cooperation Road, learning about the important history that took place only a few doors down from their school.
Miss Loftus became an outstanding worker at the factory and soon her work was recognised on a national scale. Laura Knight, one of the most popular artists in Britain at the time, was working under the War Artist’s Advisory Committee to create paintings as war records.
Ruby Loftus Screwing a Breech Ring, was commissioned to encourage more women to work in factories, and was one of a series of portraits of women who had distinguished themselves through acts of bravery and skill.
The story published in the South Wales Argus on 30 April 1943 recalls a 21-year-old Miss Loftus taking the day off work to travel to London and see her painting. It said: “A shy girl with brown eyes and her hair in a victory roll, Ruby Loftus stood to-day in front of her picture and blushed furiously.”
Speaking to a Press Association reporter at the time, Miss Loftus reportedly said: “I think it’s a marvellous picture. I am thrilled.
Ms Davies said: “We wanted to ensure the history of the site is reflected in its exciting future and that we are building a place that encourages community to thrive, the type of development post-war Britain couldn't afford to imagine – and certainly a place that Newport can be proud of, both for it’s past and present. "
A year after the painting of Ruby was unveiled at the Royal Academy in London, the War Artists Advisory Committee at the National Gallery sent twenty-five paintings to Newport to be exhibited at the Museum and Art Gallery. The exhibition was on display from 28 March until 22 April 1944.
Now the painting is kept at the Imperial War Museum, London, but is currently part of an exhibition of Laura Knight’s work at the National Portrait Gallery until 13 October.
The Seren Group purchased the land in February of this year. The development will comprise of 250 new affordable homes. The Garden village ideal emerged from the Garden City Movement of the late 19th century and champions nature within the urban space with dedicated gardens and tree lined streets.
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