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Report - GKN Shadow factory & Tunnels, Birmingham Mar15

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by The Wombat, May 23, 2015.

  1. The Wombat

    The Wombat Mr Wombat
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    Thanks to Altair for this one.

    The surface buildings were unremarkable, but it is the underground labyrinth of tunnels that make this place. After the large cavern that was a huge safe, we came across a room that wouldn’t have been out of place for a torture scene in a ‘Saw’ movie. I didn’t know what I was walking in, and the barrels that looked like they were oozing toxic waste :D

    Explored with KM Punk, Lost explorer, Burb147 & Altair.


    In 1854 J. S. Nettlefold, a Birmingham screw manufacturer, had revolutionized his industry by introducing automated American machinery. Room was needed to house this; Nettlefold, joined by his brother-in-law Joseph Chamberlain, father of the statesman, established the Heath Street Works in Cranford Street, Smethwick. The firm (until 1874 Nettlefold & Chamberlain and then Nettlefolds Ltd.) dominated the market by the mid 1860s. Among those prominent in its development was the younger Joseph Chamberlain, who joined it in 1854 and soon afterwards took charge of the commercial side of the organization. He became a partner in 1869 and remained with the firm until 1874, when he retired to devote himself to politics. The firm had by then begun to acquire additional premises. In 1869 it bought the Imperial Mills, which stood on the north side of Cranford Street, opposite the Heath Street Works. The mills were converted for the manufacture of nuts and bolts, and a wire-drawing mill, a bar shop, and a nail-making shop were built. In 1880, the year in which it became a limited company, Nettlefolds took over one of its local rivals, the Birmingham Screw Co., which had set up its St. George's Works in Grove Lane in 1868. The newly acquired works was almost as large as the Heath Street Works and faced it from the opposite bank of the Birmingham Canal.

    Although the firm continued to expand, its profits fluctuated considerably during the last twenty years of the 19th century, and in 1902 the merger for which Arthur Keen had been working took place: Nettlefolds joined Guest, Keen & Co. to form Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds Ltd. By the outbreak of the First World War the new company produced over half the screws and about a quarter of the nuts and bolts made in the country. The amalgamation made the firm the largest employer in the town. In the late 1960s the headquarters of Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds Ltd., by then an investment company, adjoined the Heath Street Works, a 50-acre complex run by G.K.N. Screws and Fasteners Ltd. and employing some 4,500 people. G.K.N. had several other subsidiaries in Smethwick. G.K.N. Distributors Ltd. had its headquarters at the London Works, while G.K.N. Group Services Ltd. was in Cranford Street, G.K.N. Reinforcements Ltd. in Alma Street, and G.K.N. Fasteners Corrosion Laboratory in Abberley Street. Smethwick Drop Forgings Ltd. of Rolfe Street, acquired by G.K.N. in 1963, was run as a subsidiary of G.K.N. Forgings Ltd.


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    Bolts, Mr Sam, mw0sec and 1 other person like this.

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  2. dave

    dave 28DL Regular User
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    Great pics there you have portrayed it very well. Was that paperwork in those bags in pic 5.
     
  3. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    :thumb Nice ones fella

    One of my favourite places to visit this. Always something knew to find. Although it probably strips the lining of your lungs off lol
     
  4. The Wombat

    The Wombat Mr Wombat
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    Cheers Dave
    Wasn't sure how well this would go down.
    Yes that was the paperwork, in the walk-in safe room. All just left to rot
     
  5. The Wombat

    The Wombat Mr Wombat
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    Cheers AR :)
    Wouldn't want to spend overnight here - can't be good for you at all :eek:
     
  6. Jordyn Warner

    Jordyn Warner 28DL Member
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    Could you tell me where the entrance to the underground factory tunnels are? I cannot find anywhere online that tells you :/
     
  7. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    You don't ask for access or location details on an open public Forum .......you could be anyone .

    You'll find these entrances do not normally have a neon sign over them and you may have to actuary search for yourself which is supposed the be part of the fun of this stuff ?
     
  8. The Wombat

    The Wombat Mr Wombat
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    As AR has pointed out, we don't usually put access details on a public forum.
    Go to site, and have a look, I'm sure you will find them :)
     
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  9. fairyclarey

    fairyclarey Never stop exploring :)
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    love this place so much :) took us two visits to find the tunnels as it was dark but near enough know it inside out now! pictures are great hopefully I might be this good someday :)
     
  10. The Wombat

    The Wombat Mr Wombat
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    thank you M'dear :)
    very nice of you to say so
     
  11. woody1112

    woody1112 28DL Full Member
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    nicely captured set, difficult to light paint with the water and the lightand dark walls, nice job :thumb
     
  12. The Wombat

    The Wombat Mr Wombat
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    Thanks mate :)
     
  13. Eight-Seven

    Eight-Seven This is not a good idea. Let's do it.
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    What's the state of this place now? Last went by months ago and it looked as though it was being levelled. I guess for that new hospital.
     
  14. Speed

    Speed Got Epic?
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    This bit is still there, its the stuff on the other side of the canal basin that has gone. Not been by for a few weeks myself actually tho.
     
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