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Report - - Cremyll WW2 Oil storage depot, near Plymouth, July 2019 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Cremyll WW2 Oil storage depot, near Plymouth, July 2019



HughieD

28DL Regular User
Regular User
1. The History
Searched high and low for info on this place but found absolutely nothing. Not a single shred of info anywhere on the internet. It's located over the Tamar from Plymouth and is actually in Cornwall rather than Devon. The only other thing I know about the site is that it dates back to World War II and has been abandoned for some time.

2. The Explore
Previously I had explored a fuel storage site closer to Cremyll. It’s above ground and easy to reach, if nothing spectacular. However, subsequently saw a very old report on 28DL on some underground tanks in the vicinity. What followed was a bit of research and thanks to good old OS maps, I managed to locate the four tanks. Hence on my next visit to Plymouth I took the ferry from Plymouth over the Tamar to Cremyll and then made the mile or so hike to where the path veered off the main road into the woods. It was easy enough to find the mound of tank no.1, although the entrance was a bit concealed. Having gone through the door it’s a left turn into a small valve room. There’s then a circular portal that you can climb through into the tank, presumably where a pipe would have been. Inside the vast tank was flooded with 7-8” of water. Hence it was a wellies jobbie which I’d thankfully packed in my back.

Inside it was pitch black and very, very echoey. The concrete ceiling was held up by a series of metal pillars while the sides were constructed of iron sheets. In the centre was what appeared to be a spiral heating element – probably to keep the oil pumpable. After a bit of light painting it was time to squeeze back through the portal and move on to tanks 2 and 3. These were relatively close together. The layout was pretty much identical to tank 1 although these two still had some of the hatches, pullies, valves and other bits of ironwork on the top of the tanks. There was also a nice winch outside tank 2. Both were again flooded and looked identical to tank 1 so didn’t go into these. Then it was back on the track and up the hill to tank no.4, the highest tank of the four. Again, a similar lay-out. However, this one was much dryer plus didn’t have the circular heating element. So, after more light painting it was time to pack up and walk up the hill, back to the main road and off to the next site.

Overall this was a really different place. Pretty much off the radar due to its rural location in woods. It’s the sort of place that you need good location intel on, but all-in-all, worth the effort.

3. The Pictures

The valve room here is the most complete:

img1866 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Into the tank we go:

img1858 by HughieDW, on Flickr

That spiral heating element:

img1856 by HughieDW, on Flickr

No scope for putting stuff down or knocking tripods over:

img1860 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Either the ‘out’ pipe or ‘in’ pipe:

img1862 by HughieDW, on Flickr

On to tank No.2:

Cremyll 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Complete with winch:

img1881 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1882 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The rusted entrance door:

img1875 by HughieDW, on Flickr

In addition to the valve room there was another empty storage space:

img1883 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The valve room was more far gone than the first and the worst condition of the four tanks:

Cremyll 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The entrance to tank no.3 was the cleanest:

img1884 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Cremyll 07 by HughieDW, on Flickr

But the valve system is in a poor way:

Cremyll 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Cremyll 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr

But it had the most metalwork on the top:

img1885 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Including this pulley system:

img1887 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1888 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1889 by HughieDW, on Flickr

So finally, on to tank No.4:

Cremyll 09 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The value system is far less in-tact and very rust on this one. To the right is the hole you have to climb through:

img1900 by HughieDW, on Flickr

You can see the water is much shallower here. As I walked across the tank floor in one place the floor did a very disconcerting wobble!

img1893 by HughieDW, on Flickr

You can get a sense of the curvature of the tank on this picture:

img1898 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Back out again and here’s another hand winch:

img1906 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This is also the only tank to retain its metal service staircase:

img1907 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And finally, some more hatches, valves and pipes:

img1908 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1910 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1911 by HughieDW, on Flickr
 
Last edited:

westernsultan

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Another excellent report allowing people like me to see things we would not attempt ourselves. Always lack of information about such Royal Naval establishments, It is mentioned at https://ramepeninsulaneighbourhoodplan.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/mount-edgcumbe-questionnaire.pdf dating from 2014 but no follow up. I found more information about a similar site in Scotland which might give a flavour to these interesting tanks.

On the edge of Kinrive Forest, hidden in the side of Kinrive Hill, are two bolted doorways. Today they stand forgotten and unheeded, but during World War II they formed the entrance to a vital part of the British government's defence plan against the Germans and their allies.
The doorways lead to the bombproof fuel tanks beneath Kinrive Hill. Inchindown was one of three secret fuel stores constructed near the main naval anchorages in Britain, in this case Invergordon naval base. The tanks held a specific kind of fuel called Furnace Fuel Oil (FFO). The Royal Navy used this type of fuel for their ships until the late 1960's.
The government needed to keep stores of fuel, in case the German Navy managed to block the ports or destroy shipping convoys and stop fuel supplies reaching Britain from overseas. These supplies of fuel had to be hidden from view and protected or German planes would have targeted and tried to destroy them.
The fuel would make sure the Royal Navy could continue to protect Britain, no matter what happened. In 1941 the Germans did successfully destroy one of the above-ground oil tanks immediately beside Invergordon naval base.
Four miles of pipes connected Inchindown to the naval base, keeping it supplied with fuel and ready for action. The fuel flowed downhill from the stores to Invergordon, but restocking the tanks from the base was more problematic. To get the fuel back up hill they built three pumping stations, the largest located at Tomich.
People Story: Who built these stores?
The construction of the six fuel tanks inside Kinrive Hill was a major feat of engineering.
The tanks are enormous and held almost 32 million gallons of fuel. There were five main tanks and one smaller reserve one. The larger tanks were 9m wide by 237m long and 13.5m high; you could fit 16 double decker-buses end to end into one of these tanks.
The government contracted engineering firm William Arrol to build the depot, who in turn sub-contracted the work out, probably to the construction firm Yemen, Bald, and Hutchison.
It was not an easy task to hollow out the hill. Nor could it have been much of a secret. The hill was selected for its hard rock, and was deep enough to protect the tanks from bombing.
They quarried over half a million tonnes of rock and dumped it on the hillside. This was visible from the air and the Germans probably knew about the construction. The hill provided protection rather than a secret location.
Locals still remember the quarrying of the hill. As well as a local workforce, gangs of labourers from Ireland were hired.
Malcolm MacLeod recalls his father cycling the 5 miles and back from Adross to work a fourteen hour shift drilling the tunnels and tanks.
The tanks had no doors only four circular pipes, through which men had to pass to reach the tanks. The staff lay flat on a gurney, a wheeled board, and slid down the pipes. Today the tanks are clean but it must have been a rather dirty and smelly job.
 

HughieD

28DL Regular User
Regular User
Another excellent report allowing people like me to see things we would not attempt ourselves. Always lack of information about such Royal Naval establishments, It is mentioned at https://ramepeninsulaneighbourhoodplan.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/mount-edgcumbe-questionnaire.pdf dating from 2014 but no follow up. I found more information about a similar site in Scotland which might give a flavour to these interesting tanks.

On the edge of Kinrive Forest, hidden in the side of Kinrive Hill, are two bolted doorways. Today they stand forgotten and unheeded, but during World War II they formed the entrance to a vital part of the British government's defence plan against the Germans and their allies.
The doorways lead to the bombproof fuel tanks beneath Kinrive Hill. Inchindown was one of three secret fuel stores constructed near the main naval anchorages in Britain, in this case Invergordon naval base. The tanks held a specific kind of fuel called Furnace Fuel Oil (FFO). The Royal Navy used this type of fuel for their ships until the late 1960's.
The government needed to keep stores of fuel, in case the German Navy managed to block the ports or destroy shipping convoys and stop fuel supplies reaching Britain from overseas. These supplies of fuel had to be hidden from view and protected or German planes would have targeted and tried to destroy them.
The fuel would make sure the Royal Navy could continue to protect Britain, no matter what happened. In 1941 the Germans did successfully destroy one of the above-ground oil tanks immediately beside Invergordon naval base.
Four miles of pipes connected Inchindown to the naval base, keeping it supplied with fuel and ready for action. The fuel flowed downhill from the stores to Invergordon, but restocking the tanks from the base was more problematic. To get the fuel back up hill they built three pumping stations, the largest located at Tomich.
People Story: Who built these stores?
The construction of the six fuel tanks inside Kinrive Hill was a major feat of engineering.
The tanks are enormous and held almost 32 million gallons of fuel. There were five main tanks and one smaller reserve one. The larger tanks were 9m wide by 237m long and 13.5m high; you could fit 16 double decker-buses end to end into one of these tanks.
The government contracted engineering firm William Arrol to build the depot, who in turn sub-contracted the work out, probably to the construction firm Yemen, Bald, and Hutchison.
It was not an easy task to hollow out the hill. Nor could it have been much of a secret. The hill was selected for its hard rock, and was deep enough to protect the tanks from bombing.
They quarried over half a million tonnes of rock and dumped it on the hillside. This was visible from the air and the Germans probably knew about the construction. The hill provided protection rather than a secret location.
Locals still remember the quarrying of the hill. As well as a local workforce, gangs of labourers from Ireland were hired.
Malcolm MacLeod recalls his father cycling the 5 miles and back from Adross to work a fourteen hour shift drilling the tunnels and tanks.
The tanks had no doors only four circular pipes, through which men had to pass to reach the tanks. The staff lay flat on a gurney, a wheeled board, and slid down the pipes. Today the tanks are clean but it must have been a rather dirty and smelly job.
Tanks alot mate, my pleasure. That info is really interesting and much of that relates to this site as well I guess.
 

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Im loving all of this. Shots so stunningly angled, the rusty pipes, wheels etc shot so clearly and even the moss . Those tanks are something else. Very different & photogenic :cool::cool:
 

tigger

mog
Regular User
Aha...great selection of photos. Did newage and fluffy spur you to action again after their recent revisit?
The four WW2 tanks at Cremyll are standard C2 Protected Storage design so not similar to Inchdown. Two more tanks were constructed but these have since been removed.
Semi-sunken, each tank is a fully welded-mild steel structure with an open top. 45 steel columns support a concrete slab roof over which the excavated soil was mounded to provide extra protection. The design proved very successful and a huge number survive (as seen on quite a few other reports on here).
 

Metalmonkey

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
@HughieD Great report, really enjoyed reading this while fubbing those around me :) Looking forward to reading more of your reports.
 

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