Site Records


Site Name: Swynnerton Royal Ordnance Factory

Swynnerton Training Area
Swynnerton, Staffordshire
SJ840337

Sub Brit site visit 27th November 2003

[Source: Nick Catford]

ROF Swynnerton remained operational after the war although on a reduced scale with single day shift working being introduced from 6th May 1946. Saturday working ceased from 16th June 1947. By 1955 the workforce had been reduced to just over 3000 but this dropped to 2000 by the summer of 1957 and by the following March it had dwindled to 700. As only a few dozen traveled by train the railway service was withdrawn with the last train running on 27th June 1958. Production at ROF Swynnerton ceased later that year and the factory was closed and placed on care and maintenance. In 1960 there was a plan for part of the factory to be taken over by the British Motor Corporation but nothing came of the proposal and the site was subsequently handed over to the army and it became the Swynnerton Training area, a role it continues to fulfill today.

The Coldmeece branch line was formally closed on 1st March 1964 although the track had been lifted the previous year. Today all trace of Coldmeece station has been obliterated although the course of the line can still be traced south of Yarnfield with bridge abutments still visible where a line crossed a minor road in the village.

Photo:No. 3 Magazine, refurbished in 1962 as a Civil Defence Group Control and refitted in 1988 as RGHQ 9.1
Photo by Nick Catford

In 1962 two of the magazines were refurbished as the civil defence Group Control for North Staffordshire and Stoke County Borough Control.

In 1964 Group Controls were abolished and the bunker became the Staffordshire County Control and County Training Centre. In 1967 the County Control was relocated to the basement of the county buildings in Stafford (completed 1969) and after 1968 the bunker was put on care and maintenance although the rest of the site was still owned by the MOD and in use as an army training area.

In the early 1980's the bunker was reactivated as SRHQ 9.1 and in 1988 was refitted as RGHQ 9.1 serving the eastern part of the West Midlands, finally closing in 1992. It was sold back to the army who have been unable to use it on health and safety grounds as it had remained empty and was believed to have toxic gasses including methane. Although there have been a number of open days at the training area the bunker has always remained strictly out of bounds.

Photo:No 4 Magazine converted for troop accommodation in the 1960's
Photo by Nick Catford

A third magazine (No. 6) was also converted in the 1960's for use as accommodation for visiting troops. It still fulfills this function today and consists of two large dormitories, smaller officers' dormitory, kitchen, canteen toilets and a recreation room. The railway loading bay and platform has been retained largely unaltered with all the new rooms constructed within the storage area. No. 7 magazine has had new roller shutters fitted but apart from that it remains largely unaltered; it is lit but is presently unused. No. 4 magazine still has its original doors and is completely unaltered but No. 1 magazine has been demolished.

Although the training area is in regular use those buildings that are not in danger of collapsing have been retained although many of the filling buildings have been removed because of the light construction leaving only the revetments. Many of the decontamination buildings are still standing although most are sealed as they now provide hibernacula for bats. One building is however open and accessible.

Photo:Decontamination building
Photo by Nick Catford

It still retains ventilation plant made by Sutcliffe & Speakman consisting of filters, a fan and ventilation trunking. There is still some WW2 lettering above the doorways with one room labeled 'clean wounded straight through'. This refers to workers wounded during an air attack but not contaminated by gas. Another room is just labeled 'wounded'.

There is littler evidence of the once extensive network of standard gauge railway lines that ran through the base and into all the magazines. Most of the magazine still retain their loading bays although in the RGHQ one of the bays has been infilled (No. 5 magazines) and in No 3 the bay has been divided into a number of rooms, in one room a section of the platform has been utilized as a work bench. In those magazines that have not been converted for later use, the railway track is still embedded in the concrete floor.

Each of the magazines has a storage area of approximately 500 square feet with concrete supporting pillars arranged in five lines of six pillars. These pillars have all been retained in those magazines that have been converted for other uses.

The accommodation hostels, which were all names after naval officers are all still standing with the exception of Duncan Hall. Raleigh Hall is a trading estate, Drake Hall is a prison, Beatty Hall and Howard Hall are a BT training college. Frobisher Hall was demolished shortly after WW2; Nelson Hall was occupied by US servicemen immediately after the war but it too has now been demolished.

SOURCES:

  • Bob Jenner
  • Railway Bylines magazine April 2001
  • Railway World magazine December 1960

For further photographs of ROF Swynnerton click here
For Swynnerton SRHQ 91/RGHQ 9.1 click here

[Source: Nick Catford]

Home Page
Last updated: Tuesday, 04-Jan-2011 14:55:29 GMT
© 1998-2004 Subterranea Britannica