A 100-YEAR-OLD former munitions worker attended an opening ceremony for a new office at the historic Hereford factory she worked at over 75 years ago.

One of the last surviving 'canary girls' who worked at the site in wartime, Nancy Billings, appeared at the opening of the Canary Suite at the Shell Store in Rotherwas, Hereford.

The suite is designed as a coworking space for local businesses and members of the community to network and collaborate.

It was named the Canary Suite after the munitions workers, nicknamed canary girls because of the toxic jaundice from TNT which turned their hair and skin yellow.

100-year-old Nancy Billings was proud to see the space named in honour of her and her colleagues and the work they did there more than 75 years.

The event welcomed local businesses, freelancers, organisations and the community with talks from businesses and a barbecue.

Mark Pearce, managing director at Hereford Enterprise Zone, said: "The chance for so many local businesses and organisations to get together at the Shell Store was a real celebration of the area. When we started this, we felt it was important that we have vibrant, modern hubs, and can support people from an idea through to founding and growth."

Hereford Times: The Canary Suite at the Shell StoreThe Canary Suite at the Shell Store (Image: Paperclip Media)

The Shell Store is based at Rotherwas' Skylon Park, and its aim is to offer a base for small businesses and remote workers, championing flexible work and acting as a meeting point where local enterprises can occupy desks and small office space, as well as forming connections and collaborating with others.

The broader mission is centred on helping Hereford's economy and community, empowering local people at the helm of their own ventures and supporting businesses within the area. It is operated by Town Square on behalf of the council.


Carl Turner, Town Square's director, said: "We're very proud to have had so many people attend the unveiling of our coworking space, and are very grateful to have Nancy Billings and the team at Rotherwas. 

"A coworking space is the heart of any modern workspace. It provides a place for freelancers and remote workers who may not need a whole office, but want to break away from coffee shops and kitchen tables - but it also connects people.

"As a small business, the ability to simply turn and talk through challenges with someone experienced is invaluable. You just don't get that working from home - and it's what adds real value to working in such a vibrant space."