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Report - - Longbridge - Rover Shadow Factory - Dec 15 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Longbridge - Rover Shadow Factory - Dec 15


The Amateur Wanderer

28DL Regular User
Regular User
Longbridge Rover Shadow Factory

Introduction:

Evening all, I know @mattdonut has just put up a report from here, so this may seem a little same old but I wanted to share my experience of the place. It's somewhere I've been meaning to visit for a long time, which is usually the case for me, fortunately the chance arose when we found ourselves looking for a second explore on our return home.

Visited with @ledgehammer and thanks to @ACID- REFLUX for dropping me the location at the last minute (First time I've ever been in the Longbridge area surprisingly).

I feel a need to return to Longbridge at a later date to explore the other tunnels which we had to skip due to time constraints on this visit. The tunnel we explored is the one closet to the railway line (Those who've been will know where I mean).

History:

Today, there's little to show for what was originally the Austin, later Rover Longbridge East Works. The site has sadly been demolished to make way for housing, however the Second World War Austin Shadow Factory does still remain.

The Shadow factory Scheme was fronted by the Air Ministry during the run up to WW2 in an attempt to better ready Great Britain for war with Nazi Germany. The project was created by Sir Kingsley Wood and headed by Herbert Austin. The Shadow Scheme broken down simply was this:

- The Construction of nine new factory facilities
- The development and expansion of existing factories allowing them to convert to aircraft manufacturing from civil manufacturing with ease

The government under Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain would provide loans and grants to the companies participating in the Shadow Scheme.

That's a very brief overview of the general idea behind the Shadow Scheme.

The Austin Works, Longbridge, were always going to be undertaking a large role in the Shadow Scheme, after all the owner of the works Conservative MP Lord Herbert Austin was at the head of the scheme itself. Longbridge works were set up for the construction of the Vickers Wellington Bomber. (I'll try not to bore you too much but I am a bit of an aviation nut) The Wellington was a very capable aircraft, a medium bomber designed by Barnes Wallis of the Vickers-Armstrong company. The aircraft was famous for been able to take a lot of damage but still return home due to it's geodesic airframe, the aircraft were usually fitted with Bristol Hercules engines. The surface factory at Longbridge had its roof flooded so that it gave the appearance of a lake from above as well as several similar looking reservoirs built nearby to further confuse German bombardiers. and below the shadow factory tunnels which we're about to explore were dug out. At the peak of the war it's believed that up to 10,000 people, mainly women were employed working down in these very tunnels doing their bit for the war effort.

After the second world war the factory went back to producing Austin motor cars, the tunnels of the shadow factory below largely forgotten about by most.

Pictures:

Lord Austin inspects a Bristol Radial Engine inside the shadow factory, sadly Lord Austin died of a heart attack in 1941.

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I can make out 2 men in this photograph, the rest women assembling again Bristol Radial Engines on the underground production line. These are NOT Rolls Royce Merlin engines as the Daily Mail seems to suggest...

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Production Lines:

Inside this section of factory two of the tunnels that were production lines can be explored, it's hard to imagine nowadays just what it must have been like down here during the peak of the war.

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For some of the stretches of tunnel we decided to add a little colour, it's subtle but might not be to everyone's taste...

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Amenities Block:

Like any other place of work, an amenities block is needed!

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I'll be writing to the local council about this, toilets for us explorers are always a mess!

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Power House and Ventilation:

The factory substation and ventilation system, two of the most vital requirements...

Below can be seen the ventilation system and starter motor.

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The Substation... Crompton Parkingson Switchgear...

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Reserve Batteries...

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Boiler...

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And finally to finish with, a bit of old school graf...

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As always, cheers for reading :thumb
TAW
 
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