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ICI Nobel Ardeer (North Ayrshire - April 2014)

Involuntary Abstinence

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On a sunny Saturday morning I met my two partners in crime (non-forum members) in Glasgow and set off on what was a "secret explore" they had planned for me.

After a not that long drive I saw in the distance our destination that was kept until then hidden from me. But the sight was unmistakable and I immediately got excited.

The place we were gonna explore was ICI Nobel Ardeer.

For a brief history lesson, as always taken from wikipedia, here are some info:

Nobel Enterprises is a chemicals business based at Ardeer, near to the North Ayrshire town of Stevenston in Scotland. It specialises in nitrogen-based propellants and explosives and nitrocellulose-based products such as varnishes and inks. It was formerly ICI Nobel, a division of the chemicals group ICI, but is now owned by Inabata & Co., Ltd., a Japanese trading firm.

Nobel Industries Limited was founded in 1870 by Swedish chemist and industrialist Alfred Nobel for the production of the new explosive dynamite. Ardeer, on the coast at Ayrshire, was chosen for the company's first factory. The business later diversified into the production of blasting gelatine, gelignite, ballistite, guncotton, and cordite. At its peak, the factory was employing nearly 13,000 men and women.

In 1926, the firm merged with Brunner, Mond & Company, the United Alkali Company, and the British Dyestuffs Corporation, creating a new group, Imperial Chemical Industries, then one of Britain's largest firms. Nobel Industries continued as the ICI Nobel division of the company.

ICI Ardeer was commonly known locally as the 'factory' or the 'Dinnamite'. At the time the company generally provided higher quality employment regarding terms and conditions and pension rights than other local firms. The Ardeer site was almost like a community, and there were so many people employed there that a bank, travel agent and dentist were at one time based on the site. The former Western Scottish Bus Company provided tens of buses per day to transport the workers to and from the site, and until the mid-1960s there were even two trains per day to transport workers to a station within the factory.

In the late 1960s construction began on a nylon and nitric acid plant, but this had a short life, closing down just 12 years later.

In 2002 the division, now named Nobel Enterprises, was sold to Inabata.

On 8 September 2007 a major fire was reported at the site when 1,500-1,700 tons of nitrocellulose, stored in an open area, caught fire. There was little property damage and no serious injuries.

For more click here

There are interesting details about the place in the "Secret Scotland" website too (here).

What is great about I.N.A. is also what makes it a pain. Location. In the middle of this peninsula, at the bottom of sand dunes that make you feel you are in Tatooine, the power station lies in a surreal environment and the views from the rooftop are unique. However, getting to the power station is a b***, as you can easily get lost. My two buddies had been there twice before and once they spent more than an hour trying to locate it. As there are no signs obviously and since the entire complex is next to live sites, the section of the power station that one can explore is about 20'-30' walk from the place where we parked, which I assume is the most logical place to park anyway.

On a sunny dry day the trek is at least manageable, despite having to work your way around a very annoying bog, so unless you have wellies or waders on, you will have to do a lot of zig-zaging. There are several ways around it as we found on our way back, but especially for a virgin visitor this thing can easily become a nightmare.

However, on the way to the power station there are various interesting bits and pieces, in a ruinous state but at least they give you a nice understanding of how vast the site used to be, with huge complexes for storing the material, blast walls, almost hidden under the earth rail tracks and more.

Reaching now the top of a relatively steep hill along a fence you can finally gaze at the power station and the entire live site that lays behind it. It also gives you a clear line of sight to watch for the patrols of the security.

Once we were sure the road was clear we ran down the sand dune (which is quite fun) and through the open space we reached the station praying we got there unnoticed in such a bright day. It turned out we did and we walked inside.

The entire station is quite trashed as the metal thieves and vandals have done their usual "duty", but it still remains a wonderful industrial sight, so if you fancy that sort of thing, you will not be disappointed. Pipes, cables, dials, gauges...

We spent a couple of hours in there and seeing that my 2 friends were really enjoying themselves despite this being their 3rd visit, one can understand that I.N.A. never gets boring.

After spending enough time on the ground floor, roaming through some back offices where you still find paperwork and logs, I made it up to the roof, through a pigeon-infested area which gave me some great views of the area.

Leaving we made a short stop to one of the huge warehouse-like structures with long corridors and stashes of wires that obviously were never retrieved after being ripped off their original location.

I.N.A. is definitely worth plenty of visits for the individual who wishes to really see everything there is to see.

=====PHOTOS=======

At the quarry on your way to the station.



Long way to go.



Pipes galore.



View from above.



Pigeon hall.



Ripped apart.



Stairs.



Turn them all.



These readings ain't right.



Safety. You know it makes sense.



More pipe porn.



Lovely details all over.



And a chair of course.



Roof access permit. I forgot to get one on my way up but nobody asked me for one.



The boilers.



Just beautiful despite its decayed/trashed state.



Stairs leading down to offices.



One last look.



On our way back up the sand dune.



Rows and rows of warehouse structures.



Inside one of the warehouses.



=====THE END=====

Thank you for reading!

 

mookster

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Yes I like this a lot! Good stuff, another one on the Scottish roadtrip map...

 

jones-y-gog

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Some great shots - really gives a good feel for the place.

Top notch IA

 
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