Site Records

SiteName: Weedon Royal Ordnance Depot

Harmans Way
Weedon Bec, Northants.
OS Grid Ref: SP627596

Sub Brit site visit 28th May 2003

[Source: Nick Catford]

During the South African War (1899-1902), the strain on the Clothing Depot at Pimlico in London was very great and to alleviate this, another large three storey brick building was erected in 1902 alongside the canal, between the depot and magazine. This played a very important part in the first World War, when a large proportion of Kitchener's Army was clothed from here. During this period three large corrugated iron sheds were erected to augment the accommodation. The clothing depot remained in use until 1921 when, owing to the space being required for the storage of small arms, the buildings were taken over for this purpose and the stocks of clothing were transferred to Chilwell. One of the sheds was destroyed by fire in 1950, the other two have only recently been demolished when a new housing estate between the magazine and the main depot was built; the clothing depot still stands and is currently being renovated.

Photo:The 1902 Clothing Depot standing alongside the branch canal
Photo by Nick Catford

In 1903 additional workshop accommodation was needed and a large three storey brick building was erected. This housed the REME Workshop, Carpenters Shop and Preservation Plant. In 1925 the Machine Gun Section from Woolwich Arsenal was moved to Weedon

The Chief Ordnance Officer's quarters known as 'Ordnance House' was built in 1926 on a hill to the north east of the depot and three other quarters were built for officers close by.

In 1930 the Army Bicycle Section was transferred from Didcot to Weedon and the depot became the Central Ordnance Depot for small arms, machine guns and bicycles.

From 1922 the barracks formed the home of the Army Equitation School, the Pavilion being the Officers Mess and quarters. Five new stables were erected in the field to the east of the barracks. Some of the finest horses in the Army were stabled here at that time; and so Weedon carried on until 1938.

Just before the 2nd World War, improvements were made to the internal rail network to facilitate the loading of stores into railway trucks. The depot lines were reconstructed and a large reinforced concrete platform with a roof was built in 1939; this was wide enough to permit vehicles to run up the ramps at each end to unload into railway trucks and take loads from them. With the increased amount of traffic during the war this proved to be invaluable

Photo:The Magazine seen from the top of the eastern portcullis - the infilled canal is in the foreground
Photo by Nick Catford

The depot had been paved with granite 'setts' which had been prepared and laid by prison labour. In 1939 a start was made to take up all these 'setts' and lay gravel concrete making a level surface to facilitate the operation of vehicles.

In 1940 it was decided that the magazines should once more function for the storage of ammunition, vastly different from the gunpowder for which they were built; the magazine becoming an Intermediate Ammunition Depot. An access road from the north which had long been disused had to be resurfaced and an 'in' and 'out' entrance provided at the west end of the enclosure. The magazine functioned as an Intermediate Ammunition Depot until 1942 holding bulk ammunition for issue to heavy anti-aircraft sites and equipment ammunition magazines (EAM). After 1942 ths function was transferred elsewhere and the buildings reverted to storehouses.

The Second World War brought with it a great influx of clerical work and the existing office accommodation was quickly found inadequate. In 1941 a new office block was built at the south east corner of the main gate. This housed the majority of the clerical staff throughout the war and for some years afterwards. A brick built decontamination centre was also erected on the south side of the depot and the casemates under several of the storage buildings were adapted as air raid shelters. Two external surface air raid shelters were added at the eastern end of the magazine, outside the perimeter wall.

The barracks were taken over with an ordnance store located in the Equitation School stables. The Royal Army Ordnance Corps also occupied the barracks and had quarters at a hutted camp near Watling Street.

The influx of weapons and stores was so great during this period that several relief depots were opened in the vicinity and during 1942, Old Dalby became a shadow depot of Weedon and it's of interest that after the Battle of Alamein in October 1942 until November 1943 Weedon and its shadow depot issued approximately 3,500,000 weapons. Weedon reached its peak of activity in the early months of 1944 when 'Landing Reserves' and 'Beach Maintenance Packs' were prepared in readiness for 'D' Day.

Photo:The portcullis at the eastern end of the magazine enclosure
Photo by Nick Catford

During 1944 heavy stock transfers to the Central Ordnance Depot (COD) at Bicester were taking place. The role of COD Bicester at that time was to maintain 21 Army Group and immediately after 'D' Day, Bicester took over the issue of small arms. In 1945 the Small Arms Provision Branch (P6) was moved from Weedon to Bicester and Weedon became 99 Ordnance Sub Depot. Under this designation the Depot functioned until 1952. P6 had, however, been moved back to Weedon in 1947.

After the war, huge quantities of small arms and machine guns were returned to the depot and the major function was as 'returned stores'. Soon the quantities became so great that an ex Ministry of Food depot at Barby, 12 miles north of Weedon, was taken over and became a Sub Depot of Weedon until it was closed in 1959.

In 1952 Weedon once again became a COD under the direct control of War Office and from 1952 to 1957 it played its part in the re-equipping of the new Army with modern weapons. In October 1957 P6 was transferred to Technical Stores Organization at Donnington and Weedon became a bulk holding depot. Donnington took over all detail issues, Weedon making bulk issues. Weedon's title then became Technical Stores Sub Depot, this later being changed to Technical Stores Depot.

The decision to close Weedon and transfer stores to Donnington was announced in January 1961 and the depot finally closed on 28th February 1965.

Further information and pictures about this site continues here

[Source: Nick Catford]

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