Women’s Land Army

The Women’s Land Army (WLA) began during World War 1 when many men left farming to fight in the trenches. Women took over in the fields to help grow the food the country needed. Food couldn’t be imported and we needed to be self-sufficient. When Britain went to war again in 1939 the Land Army was called up a second time. By 1944 there were 80,000 women working on farms all across the country.

They did every kind of farm work from driving tractors to milking cows and harvesting wheat. They also worked in the forests cutting down trees because wood was also in very short supply. Despite their efforts and the vital part they played in the war, the WLA was not officially recognised for their work until 2008 when they were issued with a badge from DEFRA, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

In 2012 the museum received a Heritage Lottery Grant for its project ‘Feeding the Nation: A Celebration of the Women’s Land Army’. Part of this grant was to develop a dedicated gallery to the WLA on the upper floor of our Four Seasons Building. This opened to the public in 2013 and is a permanent addition. The museum also holds an extensive collection of archive material relating to the WLA which is viewable by appointment.