The Brunner Mond Memorial stands on the site of the Brunner Mond Chemical Works. The memorial was moved from its original location under the Docklands Light Railway nearby in 2016.
The Brunner Mond Chemical Works was an established factory long before the war, used in the production of caustic soda, or ‘lye’. The factory was mothballed before war had broken out – no longer used but kept in good condition for future use. With the munitions shortages of 1915, this particular factory was then converted, among many others like it, into factories that produced munitions. The Brunner Mond Chemical works was converted into a factory that manufactured TNT. The workers, many of them female, were subject to dangerous working conditions. Subject to toxic jaundice caused by working with unpleasant substances, as well as the threat of explosion, made this a risky job.
An inquiry into the conversion of the factory concluded that the location of the factory had made it unsuitable for conversion into a munitions factory in the first place. Factories that had been built in the meantime had been built with more safety precautions, such as the Gadbrook factory, built by Brunner, Mond & Co. throughout 1915, but away from densely housed areas. This inquiry, now kept by the National Archives, was kept from public knowledge until the 1950s. It was the hasty and unsafe conversion of the factory that would soon lead to disaster in 1917.