Home DestinationsEnchanting England Healey Dell #3 -Former WWII Ammunition Site

Healey Dell #3 -Former WWII Ammunition Site

by wanderscapes

This is the third and final blog on Healey Dell. Read the first part here and the second part here.

Further on our exploration of Healey Dell nature reserve, we came across an interesting area – hidden in plain sight likes a reminder of the Second Word War, which is now slowly being taken back by nature.

nature taking over

During the outbreak of Second World War in 1939, the British government decided to enhance the capacity of three existing Royal Munitions factories. It also decided to disperse production of armaments and munitions away from major cities that were highly vulnerable to bombing by the enemy.

Healey Dell

As a result, the Ministry of Supply (MoS) set up a number of Royal Ordnance Factories (ROF) and satellite factories. ROF Chorley and ROF Bridgend, two largest filling factories replaced the Royal Filling Factory located at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich.

However, long before they completed the two new factories, it was clear that they would not meet the combined British and Commonwealth forces’ need for ammunition. So, they planned for a total of twenty government-owned filling factories. However, only sixteen were built and none were as big as the two factories mentioned above.

Healey Hall Mill Munitions Filling Factory

Subsequently, in 1941, Healey Hall Mill in Healey Dell, Rochdale became the site of an explosives filling factory. It was to be an assisted factory with guidance provided by the Royal Ordnance Factory Chorley. Opened in 1941 and closed in 1943, this Filling Factory filled 136 million 20-lb bombs for the RAF and 4 million mortar bombs for the Army.

Although there were some rumours of its opening again in the 1950s if the Cold War escalated, that didn’t happen.

Utterly neglected and abandoned

What is a filling factory?

A filling factory is a munitions factory specialising in filling various munitions, such as bombs, shells, cartridges, pyrotechnics, screening smokes and the like. Fireworks manufacturers too became part of the filling factory network and took up the filling of screening smokes and other pyrotechnic devices. These factories were part of the Royal Ordnance Factory organisation. The factory in Healey Hall was an assisted factory with guidance provided by the Royal Ordnance Factory at Chorley.

Graffiti everywhere

Majority of the employees in the factory were women. We read that around 950,000 British women worked in munitions factories during the Second World War. Healey Dell proved to be an ideal location as the German bombers couldn’t spot the factory. The site escaped discovery and hence, bombing. However, there were air raid shelters for the workers to go in case there was an air raid.

Healey Dell – The Present Condition

Today, much of the site is in ruins and suffer from utter neglect. Nature took over most of the factory sheds and what little remains seems to have ended up as a dumping place. The place has an eerie kind of charm to it. We were sad to see the place left in a state of a disrepair and destruction. It would have been great if a museum or something of the sort was maintained here.

Happy to see a historic site

Although they repurposed many of the former factory sheds and put them better use now, it is a shame that they left the ammunition sheds to be buried in neglect and disrepair. For us, it was a bit of shock to see the place in such a state of ruins. It was the first time we came across something so neglected in the UK.

It is a mess out there

Regardless of the present state of the erstwhile ammunition sheds, Healey Dell has much to offer. As we say in our vlog – it has everything – like a Bollywood potboiler from 1970s. Nature, birdlife, industrial archeology, railway connection, WWII connection, old mills, myths and legends, walking trails and trek paths, viaduct, waterfalls, birdlife and much more.

The place has a neglected feel

No wonder we returned home that day with the thought that we will come back again. There is much more to see and explore here. We hope to go back one day and explore more.

River Spodden flowing underneath a buidling

Here is the vlog of this place

Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

Related Articles

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept