THE Cartridge Case Shop at Birtley employed hundreds of women making munitions, with workers arriving by train from across the north.

Women also worked in George W Horner’s confectionary factory in Front Street, Chester-le-Street, which, in 1915, began producing the iconic Dainty Dinah toffees. In fact, Mr Horner marketed his sweet as being ideal to send to sons, brothers and sweethearts away serving as a treat.

In May 1918, there was a ladies’ football match at Chester-le-Street cricket field between the Dainty Dinah ladies and the girls from the Birtley Cartridge Case Shop.

The Chronicle reported: “The kick off was made by Mr George W Horner. The public were treated to an excellent game. The Birtley captain, although not being in her best form, made the game fast and furious at times and displayed good tactics.

“It was obvious from the commencement that the Dainty Dinahs were out matched both in strength and experience...but...the first two goals were scored against themselves by the Dainty Dinah team.

“An unfortunate incident occurred by the bursting of the ball which necessitated a rather prolonged wait.

“On the resumption of the game the home team pulled themselves together extraordinarily and roused by the loud applause of the spectators they gained fresh energy and enthusiasm and produced some really good play twice striking the goal posts.

“At half time the game stood Birtley 2 Dainty Dinahs 2 and a few minutes later the third goal was secured by Birtley.

“Dainty Dinahs now determined to press and some pretty play was witnessed but the clever shooting of the Birtley international Mrs Cornforth told heartily against them and they had a somewhat hard time.

“For a young club they put up a good fight and with further experience and more combination they should be able to make good records for themselves. Before the conclusion of the game one goal was accorded them which concluded with Birtley 3 Dainty Dinah 1.”

Quite how the Chronicle reporter came up with that scoreline is hard to tell, but he – or even she – did have the good grace to record the teams:

Birtley: Goal Malabar; backs Middleton and Turnbull; half backs B McManas, Irwin, Finley; forwards Liddle, Churcher, Cornforth (Capt), Clark and Price

Horner’s Dainty Dinah: Goal Clifford; backs Gillespie and Taylor, half backs Hutton, Hutler and Wilson; forwards; Wilson, Bell, Collingwood, Carr and Kennedy

Referee: J Lowerson. Linesmen: Messrs Robinson and Blake.”

Are any of these ladies from your family? The Chester-le-Street Heritage Group would love to hear from you at the Chester Lads (& Lasses) For Ever exhibition, which is  being held on June 27 and June 28 in the Lambton Arms in the town.

For the last year, the group has been studying the Chester-le-Street Chronicle newspaper which was printed weekly during the First World War.

There are about 260 names on the town’s war memorials and the group has found stories about most of them in the pages of the Chronicle.

But newspapers always give a fascinating snapshot of life at that moment and so the group have discovered some intriguing stories about life during wartime in the town. The researchers really wanted to find out about the lasses during the First World War as women’s stories are not well recorded, and they did dig out some information about factory life – and factory football – during those days, which we've told here and will be part of the exhibition.

But there is always more to discover, and they are appealing to anyone with any war information to come along to the exhibition and bring it with them. All lines of inquiry welcome.

The long established history society meets twice a month on a Wednesday evening at the Chester-le-Street library and has a drop-in session every Tuesday from 10am till noon at the Salvation Army in Low Chare.