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RNAD Milford Haven - Pembrokeshire - Report - 30/12/08

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evo_mad

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RNAD Milford Haven - Pembrokeshire - Dec 08

On a freezing cold Tuesday evening, I picked up CS and DD from Tescos and headed off west to Pembrokeshire to visit a site that I've wanted to see for ages.

There's not much history on the internet about this one, so after some digging around, here goes nothing.

Milford Haven has always had strategic importance, especially in the First World War as a submarine base to combat the U boat threat against merchant shipping on the western coast. As another world war drew ever closer, military planners wanted to again bolster the defences in the western seas to protect the essential supply convoys. Part of these defences included large swathes of deep-sea minefields to deter the U boats from attacking and Milford was chosen to resupply and service the ships that laid these minefields. The Newton Noyes site at RNAD Milford was purchased by the admiralty in 1934 from Thomas Ward Ship breakers, work started in earnest in 1935 and the depot was finally finished in 1939.

The supplies and mines would come into the depot via the mainline railway service and then get transferred over to the narrow gauge internal railway network at the transfer station. The mines would then either go to the construction sheds where they would be primed ready for use or into the massive storage facility buried into the hills. This consisted of six tunnels (I've been reliably informed that there were 12, we've only found 9 so far) of varying length; one of my photos shows the length of this particular tunnel as 52 metres, another at 124 metres. All the tunnels had railway tracks leading up and into the tunnel itself and were protected by large ventilated steel doors and thick walls to stop an explosion setting off the armaments in the adjoining tunnels. The safety was increased by an abundance of hydrants on the site supplied from a large reservoir further up the valley. Along with the arming and storage facilities, there were full workshop and supply buildings to enable repair and resupply of the mine laying ships.

RNAD Milford became busy in the years following 1940 as work focused on laying the minefields in and around the western approaches. It was visited by many mine layers in it’s time:

HMS Manxman visited to embark mines on the 15th of August 1941; 17th of September 1941; 20th of December 1941 and the 7th of February 1942.

HMS Adventure, which incidentally, hit a British ground mine in Liverpool bay on the 14th of January 1941 and returned to duty the following July after repair in Liverpool, visited 8th of November 1940; 3rd and 30th of December 1940; 1st of December 1942; 6th of January 1943; 4th of February 1943; 14th of March 1943; 12th of April 1943; 26th of July 1943 and the 8th of August 1943.

HMS Apollo visited on the 11th and 17th and 28th of March 1944; 17th of May 1944; 25th of October 1944 and the 24th of April 1945.

This is a small snippet of the frequency in which RNAD Milford was visited for refit or resupply.

In 1943, the focus of the battle group changed from deployment of the mines in local waters to transport of the mines to locations further afield such as Mers el Kebir in the Med, up to 100 mines at a time. Following the end of the Second World War, the depot continued its service albeit on a much smaller scale servicing and restocking ships especially during the 70’s and 80’s for the Korean and Falkland wars.

During the late 1980’s at the end of the cold war, it was announced that RNAD Milford would close with the loss of almost 100 jobs. The site was sold to Gulf, who planned on using the site for a super tanker dock but the plan didn’t come to life. Gulf converted one of the sheds into an indoor track with large banks on the turns, but it stands today, unused for some time. There were plans by Outlook Resources in co-operation with the Welsh Development Agency to create a company called the Wales Bio fuels corporation with a view to convert the site into a £50 million bio fuel facility, but the plans were changed in December 2007 and the site moved to an area on the Manchester ship canal. At the moment, there are no plans in place for the regeneration of the site.

Onto the pictures, I will be back in the daylight to do this again, photos in the dark do not do it justice.

Graffiti on the walls.
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Slow and Dave entering the tunnel.
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Electrical panels.
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Glow-in-the-dark wall strip fun.
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Gap between the double skinned walls.
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Subsidence meters.
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Roof lamps.
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Dave getting through the second door.
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Way in.
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Many bits of fire-fighting equipment.
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Old graffiti in the storage tunnels.
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After a few tunnels, we went over to the pier to have a chat with some fishermen. lol.

Rotten pier.
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Hydrant valve.
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Hydrant marker.
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Soil samples, they must have been to check to see if the poisonous chemicals from the explosives had been leaking into the ground.

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We found some tealights.
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Panel off three phase substation.
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Panel in the build-up room.
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Office area.
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We found a fenced off area that looked a lot newer than the rest of the site, lifted a drain cover and we found this.
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Novel use for a body-board.
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Hope you like the photos, had a great time lads and we'll be back to visit this in the daylight.

J.
 
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Exploretime

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Nice one Evo. We are so lucky in Pembrokeshire that we have a great variety of sites to visit like forts, churchs, airfields, schools and an RNAD to name a few.We are spoilt really when it come to explores. Great reports and a great write-up. Thanks.
 

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