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Explosives Factory near Ware

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John_D

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Further to my introduction post earlier, I 'rediscovered' this site earlier today. It's in the middle of a wood and the side of the building with the 'windows' in faces due West.
P3240012.jpg

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nelly

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Nice first report John.

There are a lot of military buffs on here, so somebody will probably pop along soon and tell you a bit of history on the place, not me though, I was dragged around my first set of pillboxes last weekend and needed prodding with a sharp stick to keep me awake :mrgreen:

I don't know if you know about the Defence of Britain overlay for Google Earth.

It overlays your Google earth maps with the positions and names of all your military type stuff etc....

Its available for download here http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/ubbthread...&Number=863080

Anyway, I'm nodding off just thinking about it!!!

Give me an asylum anyday!!!

Nelly

:)
 

outkast

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Hi John, I take it you mean ware in haertfordshire, if so can you let me know where this place is, I have done a ton of different places around that area and may know a bit about it already.

Thanks, Dave
 

John_D

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Defence of Britain overlay

Thanks Nelly,
that link didn't work for me but did a google search and found it :0). Quite surprisingly 'my' site appears to be unknown by them :0). There are a couple of sites that show up a mile or two away but that one remains anonymous. The style of the main building is quite distinctive so hopefully someone will be able to throw some light on it's original purpose. Would have taken more pictures but the spare battery for my camera that I had with me turned out to have not a great deal of charge in it :0(. May wander back again tomorrow and take some more pics, some inside this time as well. In the foreground of the first picture is a walled in enclosure, which appears to be contemporary with the roofless building, will get more pics of that as well.
John....
 

cYb3r9h0s7

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Hi John I live in Ware and would like to check this out. Anyway you could put up a google earth link or try and discribe where it is? might walk down there today if it's not to far. cheers mate thanks for sharing.
 

John_D

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Went back this morning with cYb3r9h0s7 took some more pics and found two more buildings from the same complex, hidden in the wood :0)

The recessed walled area
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some more views of the original building
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A second smaller building of exactly the same construction
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A third smaller building with some post war brickwork 'repairing' it :0)
P3250029.jpg

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P3250031.jpg

Anybody throw any light on what the purpose of this might have been?
Would appear to be part of the 1940/41 invasion defences but other than that I haven't a clue.
 

John_D

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The mystery is solved

This OS map is dated 1923, there would appear to be several buildings that I haven't yet seen.:)

Themysterysolved-1.jpg

The current aerial view as a comparison with the 1923 OS map
Currentaerialview.jpg
 
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Bunker Bill

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Mmm Interesting post and nice buildings.

I see on the map there is Sabulite works, with explosives written underneath, but they do not look like munition stores.

I'm sure some one will throw some light on it soon. :)



http://sine.ncl.ac.uk/term_definitions.asp?thesaurus_code=ty&term_id=4931

A factory or works principally engaged in the manufacture of the mining explosive sabulite
 

krela

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Mmm Interesting post and nice buildings.

I see on the map there is Sabulite works, with explosives written underneath, but they do not look like munition stores.

Do you think? Hardened thick concrete walled buildings in woods. Explosives was my first thought when I saw them.
 

John_D

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Not a military site after all

Apparently Sabulite is a mining explosive. The explosive works have long since been built over. The huts in the wood, accessed by 'tramways' (of which there is no sign) would appear to be explosive stores, well away from the main works. The walled enclosure can be seen clearly on the map marked as a reservoir, obviously there for fire fighting purposes in case of an emergency (the huts are much higher than the works and the other side of the river). Been nice to get to the bottom of a puzzle that I first discovered some twenty years ago.:)
 

nelly

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Nice work, shows what a bit of time and research can do :)
 
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magmo

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Sabulite was used during WW1 in munitions, granades and shells, also shotgun shells as it was better than gun cotton so the buldings could have been used for storing munitions made at the factory or just the explosives to be shiped to other factories.

This is intresting as it seems we imported 2000 tons from NZ at the time so it may have beeen at that time that this works was origionaly built so me could manufature more of our own.

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=EP19150825.2.11&l=mi&e=-------10--1----2--
 

John_D

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More historic info

A bit more research has turned up the fact that the explosive works were owned by 'The Smokeless Powder Co Ltd' which in turn has lead to these bits of interesting information:-
http://www.antiqbook.co.uk/boox/tur/34194.shtml
http://auction-e.com/smokeless-powder-ammunition-company-ltd-1900-c-k198144696.html
1900catalogue.jpg

And this strangely familiar problem:0)
Archivedocument.jpg

Which show that the factory was well established at the end of the 19th C, though the structures in the woods (according to OS map info) probably date to about the time of the First World War or just after).
 

night crawler

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Very good, my first thoughts were munitions an dthe map confirms it. I'd take the old map along with a new one as see if you can see where the tramway went, I daresay you should be able to make out the route. :)
 

caiman

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Here's the history

Taken from "The Industrial Archaeology of Hertfordshire" by W Branch Johnson and published in 1970.

"At Barwick Ford (Standon) on the river Rib, a few miles north of Ware, are the remains of an explosives factory established in 1889 by the Smokeless Powder Company and designed by the company's engineer, Ernest Spon. The site is about 1,500 ft square, with the Rib on its eastern side and a lane on its western; it is roughly bisected by a wet ditch from the Rib. Much of it today is rough grazing ground; but there remain five stone-built magazines, eleven blast mounds, a factory building now occupied by a firm of specialist motor body builders, the former laboratory, now a private house, and two other houses, one the dwelling of the former works manager.

By 1899 the factory had been taken over by the Schultz Gunpowder Co. a German firm employing nearly all German workers, many of whom were housed on the site. In 1914 they were, of course, interned and the firm transferred to the Government for the manufacture of Sabulite, a high explosive composed of 78 per cent ammonium nitrate, 8 per cent TNT and 14 per cent calcium salicide, used to fill hand grenades and in peacetime for blasting. At the end of the war the factory returned to private hands as the Sabulite Co Ltd, later becoming the Sabulite Snap Co making explosives for crackers - it may be interpolated that a Reliance Snap Co has been similarly engaged at Bishop's Stortford for nearly forty years, though no connection between the two firms has been traced. In 1946, however, the sale of the large estate of which Barwick site formed part led to its purchase by one of the partners in Sabulite Snap Company, Mr H. E. Sears. He closed the works, resold the site in lots and continued to live in one of the houses until his death in 1965."

This was written more than 40 years ago.

I had not realized that so much remains - I may go and have a little look around myself.
 

John_D

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Edited map

I've edited my previous post that has the OS map. I've 'tidied up' the map to make it clearer and easier to read and added a current aerial photograph of the site as a comparison with the map. I intend to go back some time this week, armed with the map, and get some pictures of the remaining buildings not yet seen.
 

John_D

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Final survey of the site with Key Map to the Buildings

Well I'm fairly sure I have documented all the buildings on the site now.
The following is going to be very picture heavy. I have labelled the buildings in the order that I found and photographed them over three visits and shown their location on the following Key Map.

Site map with key

1970sOSmap.jpg


Building 1
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Reservoir
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Building 2
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Building 3
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Building 4
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Building 5
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Building 6
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Building 7
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Building 8 (with building 9 behind)
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Building 9 (with building 8 behind)
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All that is left of building 10
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The last three buildings are in the meadow between the main factory and the wooded area with the storage huts and I suspect they were used for worker accommodation.
In the wooded area quite a few of the tramway routes can be picked out, as they are set in deep 'ditches'.
 

Dirus_Strictus

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Sabulite was used during WW1 in munitions, granades and shells, also shotgun shells as it was better than gun cotton so the buldings could have been used for storing munitions made at the factory or just the explosives to be shiped to other factories.

This is intresting as it seems we imported 2000 tons from NZ at the time so it may have beeen at that time that this works was origionaly built so me could manufature more of our own.

Sabulite was a relatively cheap high explosive based on ammonium nitrate, originally used as a mining / construction explosive. It was designed to have a 'blast initiation pattern' that would completely fragmentise the surrounding rock formation, and it was this property that made it an ideal substitute for the more expensive and less easy to produce military explosives normally used to fill shells and grenades - one needs a lot of small pieces of high energy shrapnel in really efficient munitions. The importation of this type of easily transportable explosive from NZ and elsewhere during WW1 is not surprising - the UK's capacity to produce this type of explosive was woefully inadequate to meet military requirements, especially at a time when the production of the accepted military explosives was hard pushed to meet demands.

It is a pity that Sabulite WASN'T used in Shotgun Cartridges, - The wholesale slaughter of the warmongering Prussian Aristocracy during a Grouse shoot prior to 1914, might have prevented what ensued. If one did load shotgun cartridges with the aforementioned explosive and then attempted to discharge them in a shotgun, the effect on the shooter would be the same as holding a grenade to one's face and pulling the pin! Shotgun cartridges of the period under discussion were loaded with Smokeless Powder which could have been manufactured in these premises, being eventually taken over by the UK government to manufacture Sabulite in WW1. As the site had been German owned prior to WW1, on return to private (British) ownership the factory was renamed the Sabulite Company and resumed smokeless powder production for a little while - hence the glaring errors in some internet sources on this subject.
 

fluffy5518

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A truly stonkin' post John D !! Very well thought out and researched.This obviously took some time to piece together BUT i bet youre pleased with the effort !! Fantastic stuff !!
 

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