Military Chemical Labs, Holton Heath


The Royal Navy Cordite Factory, Holton Heath, (RNCF), was set up at Holton Heath, Dorset in World War I to manufacture cordite for the Royal Navy. It was reactivated in World War II to manufacture gun propellants for the Admiralty and its output was supplemented by the Royal Navy Propellant Factory, Caerwent. After the end of World War II, the explosive manufacturing areas of the site were closed down and some areas of the site reopened as an Admiralty Research Establishment. A major part of the explosives site became a nature reserve in 1981. Other parts of the site were converted into an industrial estate; and some may be used for housing.

The Admiralty Research Establishment became part of Defence Research Agency (DRA) and DRA Holton Heath finally closed in the late 1990s. None of the site is now owned by the Ministry of Defence.

On 10 September 1927 an explosion killed 3 men working in an acetone recovery building. Acetone, used as a solvent in the cordite manufacturing process, was piped in vapour form from stoves to the store where it would be recovered for re-use. It was accidentally ignited in the pipe, causing the explosion.

In November 1929 an explosion at the factory killed 1 worker and seriously injured 3 others.

On 23 June 1931 an explosion occurred in a nitroglycerin preparation chamber, killing 10 and injuring 19. Three buildings were destroyed and a storage tank was ruptured, spilling sulphuric acid in to the area. The explosion, which occurred at 10.45 am, was heard 20 miles away and people working outdoors 2 miles away were knocked over by the blast wave. Houses situated on the main road approximately 1 mile from the blast suffered extensive damage.

The explore

This is a well known about place and has been well explored in the past and has also been smashed to pieces. The access could have been easier however once inside the tall fence you can get into every room. All the doors have been ripped off and every single window smashed, by people who share a brain cell. However this was still defiantly a good worth wile explore!

The place is completely empty really and only a few things remain to show it was once a science lab, otherwise you would have no idea really. There were a few old gas taps on lab tables like in school and a few testing chambers smashed to bits and the odd sticker still stuck on the door.

The site was larger than I had expected and we were in the main building and the out buildings for about two hours. We were spotted by a dog walker who took a bit of interest in our presence but after saying hello he carried on and didn’t seem to mind (probably called the police when he got back to his car haha)

I don’t agree with shit graffiti, which this place was covered in, however I do agree with real pieces of art and there were a few pieces that were incredible! The number 5 balloon and the alien were amazing.

Watch the video of this explore on our YouTube page!


























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