There were four different types of munitions factory:
Engineering factories producing the metal casings for bombs and shells or, in some instances, producing parts, rifles, guns and tanks.
Small-arms factories producing the bullet casings. (These factories were often existing engineering factories turned over to war production.)
Explosive factories manufacturing various explosive agents.
Filling factories to fill the bomb and shell casings with the explosives.
This site produced Cordite and was chosen for its distance from German bomber bases in Europe, while having good rail networks and a rural location that provided a good supply of labour. This ROF employed circa 13000 during WW2 mainly women.
The Ministry of Works built a large water abstraction and treatment plant , just to supply the plant.
To connect the site to the national rail network, a large marshalling yard of 10 separate roads was constructed, and these connected to the works' internal network of rail lines. A passenger platform was built for military usage. All the cordite produced at the plant was taken by these sidings to Crewe.
The site was well defended, both on the ground and from the air; several Type 22 Pillboxes and Type 24 Pillboxes and the entire site was under a mile away from RAF base, which was home to at least one fighter squadron, for defending the region's industrial assets from bomber attack.
Visited back in November with Mookster after seeing the Typhoo Factory. Another one ticked off the list which has been kicking about for years. I really enjoyed this one; though quite bare and largely sealed, it had a lot of nice things to see down there. The air was pretty bad though in places!
History - Borrowed!
The ‘Shadow Factory Tunnels’ are what remain of Lord Austin’s secret plans that were created to increase the force of the British military against the German military aggression in the arms race that led up to the start of the Second World War.
Munitions workers produced Merlin engines to power Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes which were used to regain control of the British skies during the 1940 Battle of Britain.
The Shadow Scheme involved two stages; the building of nine new factories and the extension of existing factories.
This extension included here; the Longbridge plant. Australian-born industrialist and Conservative MP, Lord Austin, whom founded Austin Motors; had already contributed to the war effort during the First World War, turning his factories to munitions and engine production.
The tunnels which ran beneath Austin Rovers Longbridge plant are mostly all that is left of the plant; a large housing development increases in size upon the former footprint. These tunnels ensured that production of the engines and munitions could continue underground in relative safety.
After WWII; the factory returned to producing automobiles and the tunnels were soon abandoned. By the late 60s, the plant was the second largest car plant in the world.
After the collapse of MG Rover, the site saw its redevelopment. Famously; a mini was kept down here after workers damaged it in the 70s and it was hidden from bosses. The mini is now in a museum.
This is a very small portion of the tunnels. Lots is bricked up