SiteName: Weedon Royal Ordnance Depot
Sub Brit site visit 28th May 2003
[Source: Nick Catford]
An act of Parliament was passed in 1803 for the purchase of 53 acres in Weedon, Northamptonshire, 'for erecting buildings thereon for the service of His Majesty's Ordnance'; subsequent purchases later increased the estate to about 150 acres. The Royal Military Depot as it became known, stretched out along the Nene valley above the village of Lower Weedon, with a barracks for 500 men overlooking the depot to the north, close to the Coventry Road.
Initially the depot had eight storehouses and four magazines. The storehouses were of brick construction and faced with stone, each of two storeys and 160 feet long by 35 feet wide, divided into four rooms. One of the buildings was, at a later date, converted into a Military prison with three storeys and containing 121 cells. The adjoining building was used as the hospital and one of the adjacent buildings housed a chapel. The eight buildings cover a distance of approximately a quarter of a mile with the magazine buildings some three hundred yards to the west in a separate walled enclosure. The depot was used for the storage and issue of small arms and ordnance as early as 1809.
At the western end of the there is a fourth portcullis leading to a barge turning area outside the perimeter wall. Barges were also able to turn in a canal basin within the magazine enclosure but this was infilled in 1915
Photo:The 8 storehouses and branch canal seen from the fire escape of the 1902 clothing depot
Photo by Nick Catford
The depot is surrounded by a high wall, at each corner of which are bastions, obviously built as lookouts for sentry purposes with patrol walks along the top. These bastions were adapted during the 2nd World War for machine gun posts to be used against air attack.
There is little recorded history of the depot between 1810 and 1858 although it is known that it functioned as a General Stores and Clothing Depot before 1858. Some troops were quartered in the depot as well as the barracks up to the time of the Crimea War.
The magazines which were built at the same time as the depot consists of brick buildings with very thick walls and a small high window at each end. Each block of buildings that was used to store gunpowder was separated from the next by a wide earth bank. Over 1000 tons of gunpowder was stored in the magazine at any one time.
Photo:6" Ordnance Survey map of the depot in 1899
Gunpowder was delivered to Weedon by barge, where it was packed into barrels and boxes and re-issued. The coming of the railway brought a standard gauge rail connection into the depot but it also posed a problem as the new main line ran between the depot and the Grand Junction Canal, severing the branch canal into the depot. To overcome this, a portion of the line had to be bodily removed, fish plates, rails and chains; to allow the barges to pass into the depot. This was made more dangerous by the fact that this was one of the busiest stretches of line in England with hundreds of trains passing through at speed during the day and sharp curves leading away from it in both directions.
Further information and pictures about this site continues here
[Source: Nick Catford]