National had been founded in 1888 to produce dynamite for mining. With demand down for commercial explosives the factory had turned to War Office and Admiralty contracts, becoming a leading supplier to the services.
Despite the greatly increased work in such a hazardous place, over the war years just two serious explosions occurred at National and only four people were killed. In the same accident during December 1916, two men and two women died. Cissie Rogers and May Stoneman, aged 20 and 21, were laid to rest nearby in Phillack churchyard, their war service acknowledged; Cissie was buried on Christmas Eve.