Report - - GKN Shadow Factory, Smethwick - August 2013 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - GKN Shadow Factory, Smethwick - August 2013


Sewer Rat
Regular User
Firstly thanks to Dweeb for inviting us along and showing us around :) Explored with Dweeb, Speed and CatVStyle.

I was a little bit more on edge at the beginning of this one and not because of the splore... but because its the first time I had taken other people in my Landy after the fuel starvation issues on the Sunday just gone, I really need to clean out the whole fuel system :). So after arriving at Cats I pre-apologies for breaking down at some random point, Her only worry was if we were going to be able to get Pizza if we break down on the M6 :)

That said we arrived fine and picked up Dweeb and Speed and off we set.

Ive used the info here from raisinwings report, hope ya dont mind but thank you :D

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.
The site was huge and we did very little top side, so the photos focus on the tunnels below which are a sprawling and seemingly never ending complex. This was a pretty damn good explore of which we found was easy to loose everyone else. I need to go back here at some point as I feel that there is no way I covered the whole place let along the stuff on the top.

And here are some shots...












We also had no problems getting back except for an unfortunate fox that decided that crossing the M6 was a good idea :(

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