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Rotherwas Munitions Hereford

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Hope this works, a few pics from Rotherwas Munitions factory in Hereford or some of the bits that are left, which is still quite a bit though hard to get decent photos of some of it.

Roth 1.JPG

Roth 3.JPG

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Rother 5.JPG

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One more for now, one of the original rail carriages used for transporting ordanance. I've got a couple more I'll put up if anyone is interested.

Trying to find a few things out from my mum as she worked there for a while in the war packing stuff, stencilling crates and taking full trollies to the railway pick up point, but her memory is a bit hazy now she is getting on in years. I will persevere though and hopefully come up with a bit of interesting stuff.

Roth 2.JPG

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Looks like standard thick walls and thin roofs. Where about is it located, and what's the history?

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Im suprised the wagon has not made it into preservation:idea: and looks like the pikeys have lifted the track around it:rofl:

 

christian

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Looks like standard thick walls and thin roofs. Where about is it located, and what's the history?

 

looks like it would make a good venue for a small museum.........:cool2:

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One more for now, one of the original rail carriages used for transporting ordanance. I've got a couple more I'll put up if anyone is interested.

Trying to find a few things out from my mum as she worked there for a while in the war packing stuff, stencilling crates and taking full trollies to the railway pick up point, but her memory is a bit hazy now she is getting on in years. I will persevere though and hopefully come up with a bit of interesting stuff.

 

Looking at the axlesboxes and buffers it is quite possible that this is a GWR-built wagon and would be ripe for preservation. I would love to see any other photos you may have.

 

The sidings at Rotherwas munitions factory were borrowed by the GWR Civil Engineer in 1932 when the Old Eign Bridge carrying the GWR over the river just north of Rotherwas Junction was renewed. The new bridge girders were assembled at Rotherwas Sidings and moved as oversize loads the few hundred yards to site for installation. At the time, the assembled girders, which weighed (if my memory serves me) in the region of 90 tons each, were probably the largest abnormal indivisible load moved on the GWR (the GWR had to borrow a special wagon from the LMS since it only had one of adequate capacity itself). Once on site, the girders were unloaded and positioned by the GWR's two 36-ton capacity breakdown cranes Nos 2 and 3 (which were known to be quite capable of lifting loads in excess of 50 tons each). GWR No 2 crane is the one that I am slowly restoring, and a photo of which is now in the "Trains Again" thread on this forum.

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Looks like standard thick walls and thin roofs. Where about is it located, and what's the history?

 

The site is on the outskirts of Hereford. It was aquired by the ministry after the outbreak of WW1 and building work started in July 1915, by 1917 they were making 70,000 shells per week. When the war was over the factory was used to dismantle unused ammunition and staff levels were dramatically reduced.

In 1932 the site was reactivated as some thought that another war was possible. At this time it was used as a filling factory for Woolwich Arsenal and went through a major modernisation programme, Woolwich eventually closing leaving Rotherwas as one of the main munitions factories in the country. Staff levels were also increased and the site employed around 4,500 people, this resulted in the building of new housing estates around the site to accomodate them.To start the factory produced 3.7in anti aircraft shells and later went on to 25-pounder shells. later in the war they were also making torpedoes and sea mines.

Again at the end of the war the site was used to dismantle unused ammo, finally closing for good on 29th Sept 1945. After this a part of the factory was taken over by the Ministry of Supply to break up tanks and bren carriers.

The railway carriage was, I think, preserved some years ago but could now do with another stint in the workshop.

I'm getting a few facts together about a German bomber attack and also some in house explosions which I will put on over the next couple of days hopefully.

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Thanks spood. Do you know what the factory's head stamp was?

 

Sorry Tony not at the moment, still trying to find stuff out.

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do you have any more details of the location for this please as i'm from worcester & would like to have a look around this.

thanks,

Allan

 

 

Yes Allan, you have to cross the Wye bridge, go straight over the roundabout at the far end by Asda, carry on for about quarter of a mile to the traffic lights and turn left towards Holme Lacy, follow this road going straight over the mini roundabout, under the railway bridge and you are there, the road goes straight through the middle of the site.

I will be adding some more info soon.

 

 

Don

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My grandparents lived the other side of the Wye from Rotherwas, not until a long time after WW2 though.

Apparently, German bombers on the way back from an aborted raid on The Midlands, flew over, and at least one bomber jettisoned it's bomb load, right on the factory, just as shifts were changing - Many were killed. I am sure there is an account of this somewhere, but I'm sorry, I have no more information.

Thought someone might be interested.

 

Chas.

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In September 1940 3 people were killed in an explosion and 3 were injured, I cannot find how this happened but it is the first incident that I can find a record of. A year later a machine that mixed ammonium nitrate and TNT caused an explosion that killed 3 more people and injured 6.

 

On July 27th 1942 the factory was bombed by a single plane. This occured at 06.00am just as the night shift was leaving and the day shift was taking over. Apparently due to it being a dull morning the blackout curtains had been taken down earlier than usual so the factory stood out from the surroundings quite a bit. Strangely the factory had virtually nothing in the way of defence against attack, instead relying on camouflage for protection. Apparently the factory site looked like a large lake from the air. The only defence was a machine gun platform, usually manned all the time but not that morning as the sole Lewis gun was being repaired. The plane was a Dornier 17 which was by all accounts flying very low. It dropped two 250kg bombs, the first hitting a transit shed and killing 17 people and injuring 24, the second bounced off the concrete over the factory perimeter and hit the factory police superintendents house killing five of his family. The bomber was shot down by Spitfires from Tern Hill and crashed in Gloucestershire apparently.

In Oct 1942 an explosion in a filling shed killed 2 and injured 4 but the worst accident happened in 1944. It was May 30th in the sea mine section with mines waiting for transport to distribution depots. It was a very hot day and the sun was shining through the window onto one particular mine that began to smoke. The alarm was raised and three workers tried to put out the mine with water and sand, but to no avail as the mine eventually exploded in the early evening. Astonishingly only one of the men was killed, the fire that was caused set off other ordenance in the vicinity and eventually the whole building collapsed injuring a lot of people. Surprisingly the fires were under control by 8pm. It was estimated that around 30 mines and 2000lbs of bombs had gone off during the incident. This was the last accident recorded before the end of the war.

I will post up any snippets I find out, when or if, I do find anything else, I believe there is a book about the factory so I will have to see if I can obtain a copy from somewhere.

 

 

 

Don

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One more for now, one of the original rail carriages used for transporting ordanance. I've got a couple more I'll put up if anyone is interested.

Trying to find a few things out from my mum as she worked there for a while in the war packing stuff, stencilling crates and taking full trollies to the railway pick up point, but her memory is a bit hazy now she is getting on in years. I will persevere though and hopefully come up with a bit of interesting stuff.

very interesting I am looking for any information on a diesel

locomotive that worked at rotherwas if anyone has any information .I beleive it was sold to

a Liverpool company when it became redundant at rotherwas if anyone can help

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I know an old chap who ran a large scrap company - they won a contract to clear a landmine factory on the Rainham(?) marshes, in the early '70s I think, which had a very large internal railway system spread over several miles complete with two fireless steam locos.

 

The rail track was taken up last. He got a call from his foreman saying "I hope you didn't pay too much for this railway line - it's cr*p metal, the crane magnet won't pick it up".

 

He hot-footed it down there with a file and magnet, and promptly discovered the entire rail system had been constructed with gunmetal rails to prevent sparks, but nobody had remembered or noticed that. He was quite pleased with that discovery! :-)

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so would this have fed the large munitions store at ditton priors where almost all the buildings are more or less intact or were twenty years ago

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For all those interested in the munitions factory in Hereford, there is a book all about the factory and its history sold in the local shops well worth reading, we have one at home.

Bob

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my great grandfather a ksli vetran from ww1 was stationed at the munitions factory when he was in the home guard he rememberd the bomber :shocked:also a couple of years ago i went to the former morten on lugg camp now an industrial site and were they were digging up foundations there was a lot of track lying around looked like bren carrier :-Das quite narrow with raised teeth that woulod fit over wheels not between them its quite hard to get on this site usualy as the old barrier is maned by security (caught them on shift/toilet break):cool2:as nobody manning it when i went in

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I live in South Herefordshire and have seen some of those items quite a few times over the years, but not all. Especially the railway carriage!

 

The area is now essentially an industrial estate, bounded by farmland as you pass the old pill box heading out towards Home Lacey. Just a bit further on I recall the remains of a railway bridge?

 

I never knew that it was such a massive munitions factory before though.

 

Not sure how well it is documented locally. Interesting enough though it is not far from where the Sterling Lines used to be before they move to the old RAF base at Credenhill. Those boys certainly would have helped depleat the ammo stocks. LoL!

 

Nice bit of history though and I would love to hear more, being a local and all that!

 

Regards :readpaper:

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Guest windscreen (Now Banned)

.....

Edited by windscreen (Now Banned)

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my grand mother and her family worked in the munitions factory.

 

i remember her telling me about the explosions.

 

there was one when they were checking primer clearance on shells. she had been working all day and they only got one break per day. the guy working next to her heard her belly rumble. he then told her to take his break as hers was later. off she went. her and some other girls got so far when an explosion happened.

 

it turned out the next shell my grandmother was to check had a protruding primer. when testing the clearance on primers you had a jig the shell sat in. you turned the shell tip away from you and swung the primer test tool down the rear of the shell. if it hit the tester it was rejected.

 

the guy did not turn the shell. he tested them tip of the shell facing him. the test struck a prominent primer and the shell exploded. had he not swapped tea breaks my grand mother may have been blown up that day.

 

 

 

 

another explosion was when hidden matches caused an explosion on one of the mercury fulminate machines which had not been used for a long time had been switched on. you were not allowed to smoke on the premises due to safety.

 

girls would hide matches in bra's or any where they could. one girl had hidden matches in the area of the machine. it was switched on and the room exploded. my grand mother was left in the rubble. she felt blood on her face and murmering from inches above her. it turned out it was blood from another girl in the rubble above her and the murmering was the girl giving herself her last rites.

 

 

she also said there was a straffing by a german plane as she was walking to the tea hall.

 

 

my grandmother told me all the above when she was in her sixties. she had a good memory but given the horrors of war things may have got muddled.

 

paul

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