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Report - ROF Bridgwater, August 2015

The Queen

Super Duper Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
#1
So, let us begin with a particularly miserable August Saturday.

It was overcast and only just not raining, even the birds couldn't be bothered to sing.

"What shall we do today?" we asked.

The initial choices were dismal- grocery shopping, housework, paint the bathroom, or stay in bed and watch "Saturday Kitchen" et al.
None of these options were very appealing, so after 3 coffees (and "Saturday Kitchen") we decided to go get a Mexican Burger and a pint of Devil's in a popular pub chain that rhymes with "Leather Goons".
Then we went for an aimless drive out.

Ended up at This Place (history blatantly stolen from Wikipedia).


"Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) Bridgwater was a factory between the villages of Puriton and Woolavington in the Sedgemoor district of Somerset, UK that produced high explosives for munitions. It was slightly above sea level, between the 5 and 10 metre contour lines on Ordnance Survey maps. BAE Systems closed it when decommissioning was completed in July 2008.


History


It was constructed early in World War II for the Ministry of Supply, with the Ministry of Works as Agents. It was designed as an Explosive ROF to produce RDX, a new experimental high-explosive developed at the RGPF Waltham Abbey. Construction work started in 1939 and it opened in 1941.

On 29 June 1951 an explosion killed six men. No cause was ever identified.

It was also known as "ROF 37", a name that was reflected in its sports and social association, the "37 Club", just outside the perimeter fence.


Infrastructure

As munitions production needed a guaranteed year-round clean water supply of several million gallons per day, the site was ideal, being able to obtain supplies from the water-logged Somerset Levels:
The artificial Huntspill River, dug during construction;

The King's Sedgemoor Drain, widened at the same time;

Water that accumulated due to the high water table in the "Borrow Pits", dug to produce traverses around the explosive magazines.

Both the waterways are now an integral part of the drainage system of the Somerset Levels.


The factory was essentially self-supporting other than for raw materials. It generated high-pressure steam for heating and production processes using its own coal-fired power station; it could also produce electricity using a steam turbine. During World War II before the National Grid was fully developed, it was connected to two independent power stations, Portishead (now demolished) and Shepton Mallet.

Between 1940 and 1941 housing for workers was built as "pre-fabs" in the adjacent village of Woolavington. Hostels for single workers were built at nearby Dunball, by the King's Sedgemoor Drain.

The site was guarded until shortly after privatisation by the MoD Police, which had its barracks and canteen opposite the main gates. These have long since been demolished. Three brick MoD Police houses are still in use on the Woolavington Road, but they are no longer occupied by the police.

The factory was connected to the Great Western Railway (GWR) by a private, 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge branch line and sidings with its own locomotive. This was used both for supplies, such as acid in tanker wagons from ICI and coal for the power station, and for distribution of the finished product.

A bridge was built in the early 1970s to carry the line over the M5 motorway, just north of junction 23, when the M5 was extended southwards from the M50. The line became disused after the privatisation of the ROFs and the track has been lifted. The British Rail sidings were known as Huntspill (Puriton).


Production

During the construction period it appears that the decision was made to fill munitions, including the bouncing bomb, with a mixture of TNT and RDX rather than RDX alone. The factory manufactured RDX in two separate production units, then sent to Filling Factories such as ROF Chorley and ROF Glascoed for filling into munitions. It also concentrated and re-cycled its own sulphuric acid.

Like all ROFs at the time, the factory was a production factory: formulation of explosives, propellants and munitions was carried out at separate government-owned research and development establishments such as the Research Department, initially at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich and then Fort Halstead; and at PERME Waltham Abbey, later transferred to RARDE Fort Halstead. After privatisation Royal Ordnance PLC took over some of this capability, other parts being closed or becoming part of QinetiQ.


Post World War II

During the slack period between 1945 and the Korean War the factory and ROF Chorley and ROF Glascoed built two-storey pre-fabricated concrete houses.

Post War concrete post and beam, factory-built Airey semi-detached House of the type made in the ROFs.


Additional capability

Production of the new high explosive HMX was added in 1955.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the factory started producing plastic rocket propellant with ammonium perchlorate and poly-isobutylene rubber as two of its main ingredients.

Trinitrotoluene (TNT) manufacture was added in 1980.


Privatisation

Royal Ordnance factories were privatised on 2 January 1985 and became part of the Explosive Division of Royal Ordnance Plc, later RO Defence. RO Defence was acquired by BAE Systems in the 1990s and was subsumed into BAE Systems Land Systems. The factory closed in July 2008."



Truth is we've been past many times before and only seen diggers & piles of smashed brick.
So if you're expecting epicness from the many buildings portrayed here-

1712666_0_1.jpg


Forget it, it's nearly all gone.
What's left?

Plenty of this-

IMG_6430.JPG

IMG_6434.JPG


IMG_6431.JPG


IMG_6363.jpg


IMG_6365.JPG


IMG_6370.JPG

IMG_6371.JPG

IMG_6475.JPG

And cows. Not ordinary cows, but those nasty tramply fucking French cows of the Charolais type, I believe.

IMG_6477.JPG


Roughly half an hour into our wander across the remains of the site, the heavens opened and we bee-lined to a possible shelter in the shape of a transformer unit (pics following) and we passed a group of these cows. They ran off when they saw us, nothing worrying about that- but then, hearing/feeling the ground rumbling, I looked up- The fuckers had re-grouped and were stampeding directly towards us, en-masse.
"Just keep moving, just keep moving, don't look at them, just keep moving, DON'T PANIC!"
Then I heard the sound of skidding hooves on mud- A 3-foot deep ditch and a single-stranded electric fence had halted the thundering mass of steaming hulks from squishing us into the cracks in the tarmac.

So we arrived at this building-

IMG_6380.JPG


And inside were things to photograph :)

IMG_6383.JPG


IMG_6390.JPG


IMG_6393.JPG

IMG_6403.JPG


IMG_6391.JPG


IMG_6406.JPG


IMG_6407.JPG


IMG_6422.JPG


Moving on we saw another building.

IMG_6385.JPG


IMG_6433.JPG

And inside? That made up for the near-trampling and being wet through from the shitty "summer" weather :)

IMG_6437.JPG

IMG_6444.JPG

IMG_6449.JPG

IMG_6457.JPG


boom!-001.jpg
IMG_6462.JPG


IMG_6464.JPG


IMG_6466.JPG


IMG_6463.JPG


I've been the Queen, Thanks for watching :)

Yer Maj x
 
Last edited:

oldiesDJ

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#15
So, let us begin with a particularly miserable August Saturday.

It was overcast and only just not raining, even the birds couldn't be bothered to sing.

"What shall we do today?" we asked.

The initial choices were dismal- grocery shopping, housework, paint the bathroom, or stay in bed and watch "Saturday Kitchen" et al.
None of these options were very appealing, so after 3 coffees (and "Saturday Kitchen") we decided to go get a Mexican Burger and a pint of Devil's in a popular pub chain that rhymes with "Leather Goons".
Then we went for an aimless drive out.

Ended up at This Place (history blatantly stolen from Wikipedia).


"Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) Bridgwater was a factory between the villages of Puriton and Woolavington in the Sedgemoor district of Somerset, UK that produced high explosives for munitions. It was slightly above sea level, between the 5 and 10 metre contour lines on Ordnance Survey maps. BAE Systems closed it when decommissioning was completed in July 2008.


History


It was constructed early in World War II for the Ministry of Supply, with the Ministry of Works as Agents. It was designed as an Explosive ROF to produce RDX, a new experimental high-explosive developed at the RGPF Waltham Abbey. Construction work started in 1939 and it opened in 1941.

On 29 June 1951 an explosion killed six men. No cause was ever identified.

It was also known as "ROF 37", a name that was reflected in its sports and social association, the "37 Club", just outside the perimeter fence.


Infrastructure

As munitions production needed a guaranteed year-round clean water supply of several million gallons per day, the site was ideal, being able to obtain supplies from the water-logged Somerset Levels:
The artificial Huntspill River, dug during construction;

The King's Sedgemoor Drain, widened at the same time;

Water that accumulated due to the high water table in the "Borrow Pits", dug to produce traverses around the explosive magazines.

Both the waterways are now an integral part of the drainage system of the Somerset Levels.


The factory was essentially self-supporting other than for raw materials. It generated high-pressure steam for heating and production processes using its own coal-fired power station; it could also produce electricity using a steam turbine. During World War II before the National Grid was fully developed, it was connected to two independent power stations, Portishead (now demolished) and Shepton Mallet.

Between 1940 and 1941 housing for workers was built as "pre-fabs" in the adjacent village of Woolavington. Hostels for single workers were built at nearby Dunball, by the King's Sedgemoor Drain.

The site was guarded until shortly after privatisation by the MoD Police, which had its barracks and canteen opposite the main gates. These have long since been demolished. Three brick MoD Police houses are still in use on the Woolavington Road, but they are no longer occupied by the police.

The factory was connected to the Great Western Railway (GWR) by a private, 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge branch line and sidings with its own locomotive. This was used both for supplies, such as acid in tanker wagons from ICI and coal for the power station, and for distribution of the finished product.

A bridge was built in the early 1970s to carry the line over the M5 motorway, just north of junction 23, when the M5 was extended southwards from the M50. The line became disused after the privatisation of the ROFs and the track has been lifted. The British Rail sidings were known as Huntspill (Puriton).


Production

During the construction period it appears that the decision was made to fill munitions, including the bouncing bomb, with a mixture of TNT and RDX rather than RDX alone. The factory manufactured RDX in two separate production units, then sent to Filling Factories such as ROF Chorley and ROF Glascoed for filling into munitions. It also concentrated and re-cycled its own sulphuric acid.

Like all ROFs at the time, the factory was a production factory: formulation of explosives, propellants and munitions was carried out at separate government-owned research and development establishments such as the Research Department, initially at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich and then Fort Halstead; and at PERME Waltham Abbey, later transferred to RARDE Fort Halstead. After privatisation Royal Ordnance PLC took over some of this capability, other parts being closed or becoming part of QinetiQ.


Post World War II

During the slack period between 1945 and the Korean War the factory and ROF Chorley and ROF Glascoed built two-storey pre-fabricated concrete houses.

Post War concrete post and beam, factory-built Airey semi-detached House of the type made in the ROFs.


Additional capability

Production of the new high explosive HMX was added in 1955.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the factory started producing plastic rocket propellant with ammonium perchlorate and poly-isobutylene rubber as two of its main ingredients.

Trinitrotoluene (TNT) manufacture was added in 1980.


Privatisation

Royal Ordnance factories were privatised on 2 January 1985 and became part of the Explosive Division of Royal Ordnance Plc, later RO Defence. RO Defence was acquired by BAE Systems in the 1990s and was subsumed into BAE Systems Land Systems. The factory closed in July 2008."



Truth is we've been past many times before and only seen diggers & piles of smashed brick.
So if you're expecting epicness from the many buildings portrayed here-

View attachment 9748

Forget it, it's nearly all gone.
What's left?

Plenty of this-

View attachment 9749
View attachment 9750

View attachment 9754

View attachment 9758

View attachment 9759

View attachment 9761
View attachment 9763
View attachment 9764
And cows. Not ordinary cows, but those nasty tramply fucking French cows of the Charolais type, I believe.

View attachment 9751

Roughly half an hour into our wander across the remains of the site, the heavens opened and we bee-lined to a possible shelter in the shape of a transformer unit (pics following) and we passed a group of these cows. They ran off when they saw us, nothing worrying about that- but then, hearing/feeling the ground rumbling, I looked up- The fuckers had re-grouped and were stampeding directly towards us, en-masse.
"Just keep moving, just keep moving, don't look at them, just keep moving, DON'T PANIC!"
Then I heard the sound of skidding hooves on mud- A 3-foot deep ditch and a single-stranded electric fence had halted the thundering mass of steaming hulks from squishing us into the cracks in the tarmac.

So we arrived at this building-

View attachment 9755

And inside were things to photograph :)

View attachment 9757

View attachment 9765

View attachment 9766
View attachment 9767

View attachment 9768

View attachment 9769

View attachment 9770

View attachment 9771

Moving on we saw another building.

View attachment 9773

View attachment 9774
And inside? That made up for the near-trampling and being wet through from the shitty "summer" weather :)

View attachment 9775
View attachment 9776
View attachment 9777
View attachment 9778

View attachment 9779 View attachment 9780

View attachment 9781

View attachment 9782

View attachment 9784

I've been the Queen, Thanks for watching :)

Yer Maj x
Good Job your Maj' :-) I very nearly got a job down there, glad it fell through now..all those explosives..no thanks! Thanks for the info too. I wasn't aware The Huntspill was dug specifically for the ROF. Fished it a few times too. Well done, TY again :)
 

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