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Report - Gunpowder Works, Chilworth, Jan '09

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by Rousing_Raven, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. Rousing_Raven

    Rousing_Raven 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    Ok this may be more worthy of the recycle bin but after learning a bit about the history and momentous importance of the place, I thought it would be silly not to try.

    A ‘watered down’ history:
    Established in 1626 by East India Company this was one of the largest and oldest powder mills in the UK also the most prestigious. They employed 600 people at its peak (though most of these weren’t directly employed at the mills) owned by a number of different companies over the decades/centuries it became the most important supplier of gunpowder to the government. In 1885 the mills were used by a consortium to invent a new type of powder known as ‘brown’ or ‘cocoa’ Also, around this time the mills were under the control of a former Prussian officer in order to ‘keep it in the family’.

    The site consisted of many buildings spread apart and separated by mounds for obvious reasons. The mill was powered by the Tillingbourne, a tributary of the River Wey, this had a very strong flow of water due to a steep gradient ..that being 965 foot hill, the highest point in south east England. The Tillingbourne still flows strong, running along the northern side while a man-made race ran along the southern side (which is now calm and still)

    Closed in 1920 after a huge slump in demand for explosives after the First World War.

    There was at one point a Hopfield that produced hops for the workers beer! which was also brewed at the mills. ..no I cant imagine that today either!

    More detailed info on English Heritage:
    http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.1248

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    I think this was where the mills were driven, the narrow channel ensured a stronger flow, you can see some evidence on the wall of this, but couldn't see any major evidence of a shaft
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