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Engineer
03-09-2009, 07:07
Not sure if this info has been posted before (did not pop up in search).

Entrance Tunnel 1.
http://www.flashearth.com/?lat=53.233538&lon=-1.912319&z=20&r=0&src=msl

Entrance Tunnel 2.
http://www.flashearth.com/?lat=53.231292&lon=-1.912963&z=19.4&r=0&src=msl

Airshaft.
http://www.flashearth.com/?lat=53.233257&lon=-1.910463&z=20&r=0&src=msl

Presumed Fire Resevroir.
http://www.flashearth.com/?lat=53.233818&lon=-1.90993&z=20&r=0&src=msl

Tunnels now used for food storage.

PETERTHEEATER
03-09-2009, 08:09
An interesting site with much remaining. I visited twice - in my RAF days - when it was active.

Some of the semi-underground surface stores used for pyrotechnic storage were used for wine storage post closure I am told.

tch0rt
27-07-2011, 00:35
For the central depot the RAF was forced to create a store: in 1938 it bought a quarry at Harpur Hill in Derbyshire; it built concrete storage structures within the quarry and then backfilled the hole with waste stone. Difficulties with construction and the weather prevented Harpur Hill from opening until mid-1940.
Harpur Hill had been designated the central store for such devices in April 1940, receiving its first load in June of that year of mustard gas bombs evacuated from France.

When the RAF left the tunnels were used as a mushroom farm. When the tunnels closed they were sold to food company Christian Salvesen to house food products, they have recently been sold onto Norbert Dentressangle

Air raid shelter
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2793/5858018828_f01028c8d0_z.jpg

Storage
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2466/5857459965_a1f11465d1_z.jpg

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2467/5857463141_016c6946ca_z.jpg

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5066/5858003724_72ba58ab8a_z.jpg

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3054/5857994674_a74d442589_z.jpg

Underground
http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6016/5971415011_09c89ba8b6_z.jpg

I will be contacting the current owners to try and arrange a visit inside the main storage site

Engineer
27-07-2011, 01:41
Layout of the adits and airshaft.

http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t101/Mondeo2006/Trog/HarpurHill.jpg

tch0rt
27-07-2011, 07:22
there is also a really well preserved pill box on the hill between the air shaft and the path that is visible on that pic

canberra
27-07-2011, 18:51
IIRC the Royal Engineers had an EOD team based here.

tch0rt
27-07-2011, 20:00
IIRC the Royal Engineers had an EOD team based here.

An area of the site is still used by the Buxton Health and Safety labs for bomb blast testing.
There is a footpath that can be followed with two london tube trains that are used for such testing.

It's a great area for finding pill boxes and storage sheds just left abandoned in the fields in very good condition.

Carl
19-11-2012, 20:18
I was at Harpur Hill 1953 to 56 if anyone want info etc maybe I can help

PETERTHEEATER
20-11-2012, 07:26
Welcome to AiX Carl. Were you RAF at Harpur Hill? What trade?

If you have any photographs or stories to share they will be welcome. In particular, the subject of what was stored in the Butterton Tunnel (Swainsley) 28 MSU and the Hartington sub-site - need confirmation of the actual storage location and railhead (quarry?)

Carl
20-11-2012, 13:14
As I can remember the tunnel was not in any way like the photos I have seen on here. The tunnel was huge and a railway line running inside the tunnel.It was so big inside that people said if it exploded the town of Buxton would go with it.
The doors were more shaped like barn doors .From the photos I have seen I don't think they are 28 mu.
I worked in the officers mess for three years as barman.
I stood outside those doors on picket duty one night as we were informed that the IRA were going to attack it, fortunately they didn't turn up.

Carnaby
20-11-2012, 13:59
Welcome Carl. I'm sure those photos are of the semi-underground buildings dotted around, not the main depot. I've been assured on several occasions that permission to photograph the latter will not be granted.

From my notes I have this one-liner:
1954 - Norton Disney has chemical weapons ready for transportation to Harpur Hill. (Colin B will be very interested in this!)

Regarding safety, the 42 Group ORB stated:
Jan 49 - Harpur Hill must be emptied as an underground explosion here would destroy the RAF camp, the Safety in Mines Research Association, and an ICI wagon repair depot. Site to be used for SAA and nose ejection clusters.

Also re post 3 - the first arrivals at 28MU came on 14 March 1940 (28 MU ORB) and consisted of five trucks of 250-lb Mk.4 GP bombs from ROF Hereford. That was the occasion when they discovered that the underground store had a very serious flaw. One of the trucks came into contact with the roof of the store. The height of the tunnels was 12 ft, and this truck when unloaded was 12 ft 3 ins. By the end of the month 74 trucks had been received, of which 15 were too high for the tunnels. As raising the roof was impossible, rails at the entrances were later sunk into the floor to give a clearance of 13 ft.

(Something not quite right here as the earlier entry implied that the whole are was too low, not just the entrances.)

Regarding the chemical weapons in Post 3 (from 21BAD British Expeditionery Force), the decision was taken on 22 May 1940 to store them in the underground section. One month later significant stocks of conventional munitions returned from the BEF and the NWEF would also be stored.

ColinBa
20-11-2012, 19:11
On 19th April 1940 the CW inventory shows that there were 18,000 4.5 inch WWI type Howitzer shells in France which were charged with mustard gas by December 1939 (17,000 back in UK on 19th December 1941) and 28,000 charged 6 inch WWI type Howitzer shells (25,000 back in the UK by November 1939). Presumably charged with Pyro.
There were also on this date 261 250-lb SCIs for Lysanders and 809 500-lb SCIs for Blenheims located in France. Presumably charged with Pyro. These were all evacuated except for a few left for the French.
According to this input from Carnaby “Chemical Weapons were dispatched to France via Fowey in March 1940 - this was the first movement of this type of weapon within the UK. All these were successfully brought out of France during the evacuation in June 1940. “
I have seen elsewhere that they were loaded on the last day of Dunkirk and arrived in Fowey on June 4th 1940.
The prime potential users of CW with the BEF were the Army. The RE’s formed No 1 Chemical Warfare Group (Nos 58,61,62 CW Companies.) and they would have controlled the howitzers involved in any CW.
It would appear that the CW that went through Fowey, Swainsley Tunnel to Harpur Hill after Dunkirk were army howitzer munitions.

Carnaby
20-11-2012, 20:50
It would appear that the CW that went through Fowey, Swainsley Tunnel to Harpur Hill after Dunkirk were army howitzer munitions.
No - I suspect I promised to send you the details Colin, and failed !

The CW consignment arriving at Harpur on 26.5.40 for initial underground storage was:
BEF: 108 x 30-lb LC Mk.1 bombs, 461 x 250-lb LC Mk.1 SCI and 469 x 500-lb MkII SCI, plus fuzing components. These were charged Y3 mustard.
(that second item is incorrectly described - it's either a 250-lb LC bomb, or a 250-lb SCI spray-tank. It can't be both - I suspect from the 'Mark' it's the LC.)



The later conventional stocks were:
BEF: 4 x 500-lb GP MkIV, 12 x 250-lb Mk.III, 2,244,000 SAA rounds.

NWEF: 232 250lb GP Mk.IV, 58 250lb SAP Mk.IV, 342 x 40lb GP Mk.III, 2,330 x 4lb incendiary.

ColinBa
21-11-2012, 01:51
The CW consignment arriving at Harpur on 26.5.40 for initial underground storage was:
BEF: 108 x 30-lb LC Mk.1 bombs, 461 x 250-lb LC Mk.1 SCI and 469 x 500-lb MkII SCI, plus fuzing components. These were charged Y3 mustard.
(that second item is incorrectly described - it's either a 250-lb LC bomb, or a 250-lb SCI spray-tank. It can't be both - I suspect from the 'Mark' it's the LC.)
Sneaky Graham but if you look at the date it is before the Dunkirk evacuation on June 3 1940 and seems to be stores in support of the BEF but not shipped to France, the ones actually recorded as being in France are listed earlier.

PETERTHEEATER
21-11-2012, 05:06
Carl, the tunnels of the Harpur Hill depot were quite large compared to the 'overflow' storage site, the Butterton Tunnel (Swainsley). The latter was probably no longer used post-war.

Carnaby
21-11-2012, 13:02
... seems to be stores in support of the BEF but not shipped to France...
I think you're probably right here. The 42 Group History 1939-45 (AIR2/10710) states:

Chemical weapons were despatched to France via Fowey in March 1940; this was the first movement of CW within this country. It is interesting to note that all these weapons were successfully brought out of France during the evacuation in June 1940.

So that May shipment to 28MU predates the return of French stocks.

It says on the web ! that the BEF consisted of 9+1 Infantry Divisions.

Hence, I wondered if the RAF was part of the BEF. Evidently the former started as the Advanced Air Striking Force, but in January it became the 'British Air Forces in France', whereupon it took over the existing Air Component of the BEF.

Military history can get very complex.

I note that I've no details on the future of Butterton Tunnel after it was initially stocked.

Carnaby
21-11-2012, 16:38
The CW consignment arriving at Harpur on 26.5.40 for initial underground storage was:
BEF: 108 x 30-lb LC Mk.1 bombs, 461 x 250-lb LC Mk.1 SCI and 469 x 500-lb MkII SCI, plus fuzing components. These were charged Y3 mustard.
(that second item is incorrectly described - it's either a 250-lb LC bomb, or a 250-lb SCI spray-tank. It can't be both - I suspect from the 'Mark' it's the LC.)


As directed by Colin I looked at the Appendix II table in WO279/202 (Special Weapons / Gas Warfare) and it states for 19 April 1940:
46,000 Mustard-charged howitzer shells in France - plus, for the RAF (all charged Y3 mustard):



30lb bombs: 10,000 fuzed and ready for despatch to France (more expected but delay in fuze production)
250-lb bomb: 10,000 charged
250-lb SCI: 261 in France, 100 in Middle East
500-lb SCI: 809 in France



So if 'everything was returned to the UK' is true, what happened to nearly 9,900 small bombs and 340 big SCIs go, plus the missing 250-lb devices?

I suspect 28MU's ORB writer got bored with recording receipts.

PETERTHEEATER
22-11-2012, 07:39
Yes, 'missing' CW bombs have troubled Colin for a long time!

Colin B, please check your PMs.

IanDDavidson
22-08-2013, 16:06
As I can remember the tunnel was not in any way like the photos I have seen on here. The tunnel was huge and a railway line running inside the tunnel.It was so big inside that people said if it exploded the town of Buxton would go with it.
The doors were more shaped like barn doors .From the photos I have seen I don't think they are 28 mu.
I worked in the officers mess for three years as barman.
I stood outside those doors on picket duty one night as we were informed that the IRA were going to attack it, fortunately they didn't turn up.


Harpur Hill photos

http://www.monkton-farleigh.co.uk/Llanberis%20pictures%20twelve.htm

A full description of Harpur Hill can be found in Nick McCamley's book, Disasters Underground

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Disasters-Underground-N-J-McCamley/dp/1844150224/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377183075&sr=8-1&keywords=disasters+underground

It also covers Fauld, Llanberis, Linley Caverns, Ridge quarry, Chilmark, and a large section on poison gas.

Of note, in the aftermath of the Llanberis collapse, on Feb 12 1942 saw 3000 tons of chemical weapons transferred to Butterton for temporary storage.

Harpur Hill is very similar to llanberis. There are some excellent photographs of llanberis here.

http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/sites/l/llanberis/index.shtml

Butterton tunnel was on the narrow gauge (2ft 6) Leek and Manifold light railway

http://www.flickr.com/photos/53774935@N00/3242175976/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leek_and_Manifold_Valley_Light_Railway

The tunnel was built to standard gauge dimensions as the L&M carried standard gauge wagons on special narrow gauge transporters. These are shown here along with the tunnel at Butterton (Swainsley)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWZbZGGnE6E

PETERTHEEATER
24-08-2013, 10:57
The tunnel was built to standard gauge dimensions as the L&M carried standard gauge wagons on special narrow gauge transporters. These are shown here along with the tunnel at Butterton (Swainsley)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWZbZGGnE6E

Thanks for the link. The history of Butterton (Swainsley) tunnel states that although it was a single bore for narrow gauge it was built high at the crown to take wagons loaded to high gauge. The film answers it visually in the opening scene by showing a 'high' wagon coupled directly behind the loco which seems to be the preferred position in the train for the 'dolly' or 'skate' or whatever the adapter was called (sorry railway buffs, I don't know the lingo)

But, back to the use as a bomb store by 28 MU, it was still narrow and I should think was limited to the storage of boxed small weight bombs for easier handling which is why it was selected for CW. Has anyone found a positive reference (say in TNA AIR documents) that this was so?

Engineer
09-10-2013, 19:04
I see a few images have popped up since I last looked.


http://www.picturethepast.org.uk/frontend.php?keywords=Ref_No_increment;EQUALS;DCHP 000738&pos=2&action=zoom

Harboda77
23-01-2014, 12:54
During the mid 1960's I visited a lot of the old abandoned railway lines in the Bakewell area and heard many stories about a local RAF site without any runways being used as a TMIS ( Toxic Materials Incinerator Site )

It turned out to be RAF Harpur Hill and according to the locals that I spoke to at the Old Oak next to Hurdlow Station it had been and still was the most polluted site in the Peak District if not the UK.

By coincidence I came across the following article today ~ Do these people not know what their swimming in ?

http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/Mustard-gas-killed-burnt-Buxton-hills/story-11622186-detail/story.html

The locals I spoke to would not even drive past the place on the old back road to what became Manchester Airport ~ so as to avoid the A6 traffic jams in Buxton.

They advised me to keep the windows wound up and warned me not to stop to take a leak in the area as it would rot me socks while I stood there ?

I purchased the introduction to geology by Prof John J Renton from West Virginia university and his groundwater lecture lead me to believe that natural dilution will take a few thousand years.

Is there any one in the forum who knows the details as I've just been scratching at the edges ?

Zeke0725
23-01-2014, 13:30
Harboda,

I don't know what controlled methods of disposal they used (if any) but one evening in 1950, several oblong stacks of incendiaries caught fire right next to a public country road leading to Washgate. The glow could be seen for many miles.

For many months later, we used to run through the site past the toxic ashes while holding our breath before continuing to our bilberry-picking area at Washgate. I'm sure that to linger in that spot would have induced unconsciousness or vomiting. No Health and Safety in those days! Some of those ashes are still visible today!

PETERTHEEATER
23-01-2014, 14:35
Harpur Hill RAD was mainly underground with surface buildings that were semi underground . For safety reasons CW bombs were not stored underground. The speaker in the newspaper article refers to carring out disposal in the hills above Buxton. There were indeed a number of sub-sites for munitions storage external to the Harpur Hill depot mainly to the west and northwest. The standard disposal of mustard gas (which was in reality a viscous liquid) was to decant the bomb or container into a prepared pit and cover it with bleach powder. Trying to dispose of many bombs in this manner and then to try and burn the residue would have been ineffective and time consuming and, I suspect, was limited to 'leakers' the mass of bombs went for deep sea dumping whilst bulk vessicants were destroyed by burning at high temperatures in a specially built destructor at Randle Island works, Runcorn on the River Mersey.

Regardless of regulations, unauthorised 'disposal' of conventional and CW munitions did take place across the UK and despite post-war clearances by service and contractor BD/EOD teams danger lurks.

Zeke0725
23-01-2014, 16:27
This is the area described with incendiary boxes stacked right down to the left curve in the lane. Small pockets of ash are still visible as shown. The bunker at top right was one of two which covered the valley below where a miniature railway connected a network of exposed bomb storage revetments. The underground bomb tunnels were about a mile and a half away.

Harboda77
23-01-2014, 17:20
Harboda,

I don't know what controlled methods of disposal they used (if any) but one evening in 1950, several oblong stacks of incendiaries caught fire right next to a public country road leading to Washgate. The glow could be seen for many miles.

For many months later, we used to run through the site past the toxic ashes while holding our breath before continuing to our bilberry-picking area at Washgate. I'm sure that to linger in that spot would have induced unconsciousness or vomiting. No Health and Safety in those days! Some of those ashes are still visible today!

Thanks for the feedback however its turning into a much bigger area than I had first understood it to be ~ as I believe ' Washgate ' was in the next valley going west and formed the principle source or head waters for the river dove ?

Note: When I first heard about this type of chemical practice from contacts in the USA ( who lead me to believe that they had been in the RAF Kimbolton area at the time ) ~ They believed that one of the principle requirements had been for all surface water to be only able to drain into what they called a ' sump area ' and not be able to escape out into sea via a normal river outlet.

I've got another thread running on a Severn Vale to West Anglia Railway that I had been told the Americans used for chemical delivery and may be they can identify some other ' Chem Stations ' where I can check out this ' sump ' concept.

Having read your local news article it appears that the ' Blue Lagoon ' could be your local sump area.

The highest concentrations of toxins will be in the sump silts that build up over time.

Zeke0725
23-01-2014, 20:22
I would say that the Blue Lagoon (which has recently been dyed black to deter revellers from as far away as Manchester) would have been there when the entire area was occupied as a lime burning facility known as Hoffmans. In the late forties when we moved up there, the chimney belched white smoke, daily. It was also served by British Rail freight trains on mineral transportation work using the ubiquitous 3F and 4F tender locomotives from the Ashbourne line to Ladmanlow. The bomb storage tunnels were partially converted into a mushroom farm over forty years ago.

In the late forties we founds lots of spent .303 cases on the disused quarry floor where no doubt the local RAF bods and possibly Home Guard , too, indulged in target practice both during and after the war.

PETERTHEEATER
24-01-2014, 11:52
Zeke, can you give me a more positive location for the Washgate area road. There used to be a 'Washgate' to the south of Harpur Hill depot and near to Tenterhill. The name Washgate disappeared from mapping long ago but was there not a Washgate Bridge over the Dove near there.

A site named as Burbage was surveyed pre-war by the RAF as a possible area for the storage of incendiaries due to good road/rail connections and high location (1200 feet AMSL) that caused frequent mists providing concealment from the air.

The site was relinquished when Sorrow Quarry (nearby Harpur Hill) was decided as a location for an RAD.

The actual location is unknown but probably somewhere on Burbage Edge or Berry Clough perhaps in disused quarry pits.

Zeke0725
24-01-2014, 13:16
Peter,

The area marked with the yellow arrow is the place we called Washgate Bridge, over the Dove, just south-west of Cartwright's farm. I don't know if I've done right but these are blown up from Google.

If you Google Harpur Hill you will see the Blue Lagoon (more like turquoise), just south of Burlow Road. Scanning due south you will pass over an open area which was designated as an RAF emergency landing ground on flight-plan maps of that era. You will then come to the copse shown in the other pic. Immediately to the left is the rough field area with surface marks which were made by the miniature railway already described. There are some pits around that area.
The oblong red is where the incendiaries accidentally(?) caught fire. The yellow spots mark the pill-boxes. Googling around the lanes will give you a perfect familiarization of the area. There is a wonderful panoramic view of the storage area and all around the horizon from the south-east pill-box. Well worth a visit!

The Luftwaffe used to drop the odd bomb or incendiary in the area when returning from Liverpool and Manchester raids in the rather vain hope of hitting something worthwhile. One incendiary hit the church at nearby Earl Sterndale which was next to the house where I was born and burned the roof off. Lord Haw-Haw even threatened the good people of Harpur Hill with a visit.

Zeke0725
24-01-2014, 13:16
Peter,

The area marked with the yellow arrow is the place we called Washgate Bridge, over the Dove, just south-west of Cartwright's farm. I don't know if I've done right but these are blown up from Google.

If you Google Harpur Hill you will see the Blue Lagoon (more like turquoise), just south of Burlow Road. Scanning due south you will pass over an open area which was designated as an RAF emergency landing ground on flight-plan maps of that era. You will then come to the copse shown in the other pic. Immediately to the left is the rough field area with surface marks which were made by the miniature railway already described. There are some pits around that area.
The oblong red is where the incendiaries accidentally(?) caught fire. The yellow spots mark the pill-boxes. Googling around the lanes will give you a perfect familiarization of the area. There is a wonderful panoramic view of the storage area and all around the horizon from the south-east pill-box. Well worth a visit!

The Luftwaffe used to drop the odd bomb or incendiary in the area when returning from Liverpool and Manchester raids in the rather vain hope of hitting something worthwhile. One incendiary hit the church at nearby Earl Sterndale which was next to the house where I was born and burned the roof off. Lord Haw-Haw even threatened the good people of Harpur Hill with a visit.

Zeke0725
24-01-2014, 13:16
Peter,

The area marked with the yellow arrow is the place we called Washgate Bridge, over the Dove, just south-west of Cartwright's farm. I don't know if I've done right but these are blown up from Google.

If you Google Harpur Hill you will see the Blue Lagoon (more like turquoise), just south of Burlow Road. Scanning due south you will pass over an open area which was designated as an RAF emergency landing ground on flight-plan maps of that era. You will then come to the copse shown in the other pic. Immediately to the left is the rough field area with surface marks which were made by the miniature railway already described. There are some pits around that area.
The oblong red is where the incendiaries accidentally(?) caught fire. The yellow spots mark the pill-boxes. Googling around the lanes will give you a perfect familiarization of the area. There is a wonderful panoramic view of the storage area and all around the horizon from the south-east pill-box. Well worth a visit!

The Luftwaffe used to drop the odd bomb or incendiary in the area when returning from Liverpool and Manchester raids in the rather vain hope of hitting something worthwhile. One incendiary hit the church at nearby Earl Sterndale which was next to the house where I was born and burned the roof off. Lord Haw-Haw even threatened the good people of Harpur Hill with a visit.

Harboda77
04-02-2014, 15:23
Harpur Hill RAD was mainly underground with surface buildings that were semi underground . For safety reasons CW bombs were not stored underground. The speaker in the newspaper article refers to carring out disposal in the hills above Buxton. There were indeed a number of sub-sites for munitions storage external to the Harpur Hill depot mainly to the west and northwest. The standard disposal of mustard gas (which was in reality a viscous liquid) was to decant the bomb or container into a prepared pit and cover it with bleach powder. Trying to dispose of many bombs in this manner and then to try and burn the residue would have been ineffective and time consuming and, I suspect, was limited to 'leakers' the mass of bombs went for deep sea dumping whilst bulk vessicants were destroyed by burning at high temperatures in a specially built destructor at Randle Island works, Runcorn on the River Mersey.

Regardless of regulations, unauthorised 'disposal' of conventional and CW munitions did take place across the UK and despite post-war clearances by service and contractor BD/EOD teams danger lurks.

I have seen the following recorded against a Harpur Hill.

1) Harpur Hill had been designated the central store for such devices in April 1940, receiving its first load in June of that year of mustard gas bombs evacuated from France.

2) In June 1942 it was decided to move the bombs to a remote site at Bowes Moor in County Durham. e.g. large number of bombs containing the unstable and corrosive mustard gas.

3) Many chemical weapons were either disposed of in situ at Maintenance Units but Bowes Moor and Harpur Hill became the centres for destruction.

4) Bulk mustard gas was graded and shipped to Rhydymwyn where any sub-standard product was loaded into 52 gallon drums and dumped either in the Hurd Deep or in Beaufort's Dyke in the Irish Sea.

5) Almost 71,000 bombs containing tabun had been seized in Germany, these were stored in the open at RAF Llandwrog, near Caernarfon, until 1955/56 when, in Operation Sandcastle, they were transported to Cairnryan and scuttled at sea in three ships 120 miles (190 km) north-west of Ireland.

Harboda77
04-02-2014, 15:32
Peter,

The area marked with the yellow arrow is the place we called Washgate Bridge, over the Dove, just south-west of Cartwright's farm. I don't know if I've done right but these are blown up from Google.

The river ' Dove ' also flowed close to the RAF Fauld site that exploded in 1944.

1) For the central depot the RAF was forced to create a store: in 1938 it bought a quarry at Harpur Hill in Derbyshire; it built concrete storage structures within the quarry and then backfilled the hole with waste stone.

2) Difficulties with construction and the weather prevented Harpur Hill from opening until mid-1940.

3) Llanberis partially collapsed on 25 January 1942 and the Harpur Hill depot was closed soon afterwards as a precaution against a similar structural failure.

Carnaby
04-02-2014, 22:34
Some errors in the above, Harboda77

Bowes opened in 1941; most of its weapons came from Valley and Randle and though much of the mustard stock was burned in 1945. from September that year many weapons were sent direct to Cairnryan, Barry, Liverpool and Silloth for deep sea dumping. Further large stocks were received postwar from RAF forward depots.

Harpur Hill's underground site (known as 'A' Flight) was for HE. Chermical weapons from Fowey in May 1940 were stored at the remote 'E' site, plus the Butterton Tunnel. I've no record of these being transferred during WWII to Bowes. Harpur was still handling C/W in 1954, and in August 1956 Cairnryan became a sub-site. During the roof remedial work from February 1942, the HE was moved temporarily to 220MU Wortley however the latter was transferred to the USAAF SoS on 1 October, and Harpur's underground site continued to be used for HE until the order was given to empty it in January 1949 (as an accident might blow up the adjacent Safety in Mines Research Establishment and an ICI depot).

The Llandwrog weapons were stored in 20+ Bellman hangars - not in the open, as has been misquoted on several occasions.

Source: Relevant AIR24,25 and 29 ORBs in TNA.

Harboda77
05-02-2014, 00:04
Carnaby ~ thanks for the information & amendments.

Must admit that Fowey had not been on my chemical list until now.

Dave.

PETERTHEEATER
05-02-2014, 06:14
Just to clarify. The CW shipped into Fowey was British stocks pulled back from Dunkirk?

ColinBa
21-04-2014, 10:55
Peter,
Off the top of my head. The CW was shipped to France in March 1940 from Fowey to Fecamp and stored in an FAD (I probably have the number). It was fully evacuated arriving at Fowey by June 6th so presumably some troops were denied the shipping space

PETERTHEEATER
21-04-2014, 14:36
Thank you Colin. It's the dates that confirm the ownership.

IanDDavidson
20-06-2014, 08:57
Welcome to AiX Carl. Were you RAF at Harpur Hill? What trade?

If you have any photographs or stories to share they will be welcome. In particular, the subject of what was stored in the Butterton Tunnel (Swainsley) 28 MSU and the Hartington sub-site - need confirmation of the actual storage location and railhead (quarry?)

Peter,

I have been talking to the locals and am closer to finding the sub depots at both Hartington and Monyash. I am hoping another member, Carl, might be able to confirm.

The Monyash storage was actiually on the roadside North of Monyash, on the road that runs SW to NE toward Sheldon.

There was additional storage In Haddon Grove, East of Monyash. The lane used runs south of the B5055 to Haddon Grove Farm and then East to Mandale house. (You can find these easily on Streetmap.)

Hartington was on a minor road called Green Lane. If you go to:

wheres the path3 website

use find to locate NEWHAVEN in Derbyshire.

Select OLD 25K from the Map options.

zoom in and find Friden station on the High Peak Railway.

Follow the railway line North, and just past Brundcliff there is a "white road" crossing roughly east west. This is Green lane.

The sub-depot was both sides of green lane from Mere farm in the east to its junction with the B5054 in the west.
The railhead was on the old High peak railway.

All storage was open stacks on the wide verges either side of the roads. If you check the roads with the yellow man on Googlemaps its easy to see how this might have been done. I cannot find any photos but the photos of Wortley show this type of storage and one can imagine this was just the same.

Ian

PETERTHEEATER
21-06-2014, 14:11
Ian, thank you for passing on the local knowledge; it has filled in many blanks:)

IanDDavidson
10-02-2015, 20:45
Peter,

I found a most interesting photo on "Britain from above" today. This was pure luck to be honest. If you recall I previously posted the location of a number of the 28MU sub depots in the area around Monyash. I spoke to a local farmer at Sheldon and he confirms roadside bomb stacks along Sheldon Common..His sister fell off a stack and broke her ankle.

Well today I found the photographic evidence.! The location in the photo is SK 16216 68350 and it is taken from the NE looking SW. The stacks are 17 or 19 bombs per stack

http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/

http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/eaw013798?search=Sheldon&ref=11


You have to register to use the zoom but boy is it worth the small effort.

Going back to google earth you can see where the walls have been moved back from the roadside to create wide verges for storage.








Ian, thank you for passing on the local knowledge; it has filled in many blanks:)

Harboda77
10-02-2015, 22:44
Ian, thank you for passing on the local knowledge; it has filled in many blanks:)

Peter,

Have the guys on the ' RAF Harpur Hill 28 MU ' thread seen the feedback we obtained from ' Zeke0725 ' on the RAF Harpur Hill thread ?

Dave.

PETERTHEEATER
11-02-2015, 11:59
Ian, re your Post 24.

Nice find, there are probably more to be found within the BFA collection. I shall try and remember to downliad that one for my record.

Dave, re your Post 25, you will have to explain again as my mind is full of DIY plans (new house). Have we got two Harpur Hill threads running?

Ossington_2008
11-02-2015, 12:17
I had a brief flick-through of the 28 M.U. Harpur Hill ORB (AIR29/990) recently, it is not good on all sub-sites but it lists:
2/12/41 F/O Chamberlain to proceed to 81MU Bowes Moor to open up & command, taking with him a core of staff, and
6/12/41 First receipts of SAA arrived at Hartington sub-depot.
Is this the same place?

PETERTHEEATER
11-02-2015, 12:39
Hartington was a sub-site of 28 MU.

My note says:

An AIR document names Hartington as a sub site of 28 MU Harpur Hill.

Local knowledge via IanDDavidson (AiX) says that Green Lane here was used for verge-side storage and was the Hartington site.

A single line railway ran directly to the west and would have provided transportation.

Hartington Station would have provided a railhead if munitions were trucked.

The sub-depot was both sides of green lane from Mere farm in the east to its junction with the B5054 in the west.

The railhead was on the old High peak railway.

All storage was open stacks on the wide verges either side of the roads.

Bowes Moor was not related to 28 MU Harpur Hill and

Harboda77
11-02-2015, 13:56
Ian, re your Post 24.

Nice find, there are probably more to be found within the BFA collection. I shall try and remember to downliad that one for my record.

Dave, re your Post 25, you will have to explain again as my mind is full of DIY plans (new house). Have we got two Harpur Hill threads running?

Peter ~ yes we have two running so should we edit and combine with the first dated post taking priority ( Just a suggestion )
Dave.

leftorium
11-02-2015, 16:21
Peter,

I found a most interesting photo on "Britain from above" today. This was pure luck to be honest. If you recall I previously posted the location of a number of the 28MU sub depots in the area around Monyash. I spoke to a local farmer at Sheldon and he confirms roadside bomb stacks along Sheldon Common..His sister fell off a stack and broke her ankle.

Well today I found the photographic evidence.! The location in the photo is SK 16216 68350 and it is taken from the NE looking SW. The stacks are 17 or 19 bombs per stack

http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/

http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/eaw013798?search=Sheldon&ref=11


You have to register to use the zoom but boy is it worth the small effort.

Going back to google earth you can see where the walls have been moved back from the roadside to create wide verges for storage.

that shot purports to be from 1948 that's a long time after the war for munitions to still be stacked there isn't it? they look like 4000 lb cookies or larger to my relatively untrained eye

Carnaby
11-02-2015, 22:51
Some comments on the above posts.

I would be a bit surprised if walls were moved to provide roadside storage. By 1943 all depots were instructed to find Class 'B roads with wide verges for this purpose.

May 1942 - the tunnels at Harpur were emptied pending urgent roof repairs likely to take 6 months. The new RAF depot at Wortley took much of the stock, but this would need relocating as on 1 October the site was handed over to the USAAF.

March 1944 - the Sheldon and Monyash sub-sites were in use.

In May 1945 Ashbourne and Darley airfields were taken over by 28MU for bomb storage. October 1946 saw 10,000 tons at each airfield, plus 14,000 tons at Harpur.

At the beginning of January 1949 No.42 Group had 396,000 tons of munitions of which 23,000 tons were stored along Britain's roads. At this time the decision was made to empty Harpur's underground storage for safety reasons.

On 31 December 1949 roadside storage was 8,000 tons.

IanDDavidson
12-02-2015, 10:51
And a few more photos here. All labelled 1940

http://www.picturethepast.org.uk/frontend.php?keywords=Ref_No_increment;EQUALS;DCHQ 009766&pos=23&action=zoom&id=114867

http://www.picturethepast.org.uk/frontend.php?keywords=Ref_No_increment;EQUALS;DCHQ 009765&action=zoom&pos=24&id=114866&continueUrl=


http://www.picturethepast.org.uk/frontend.php?keywords=Ref_No_increment;EQUALS;DCHQ 009764&action=zoom&pos=25&id=114865&continueUrl=

http://www.picturethepast.org.uk/frontend.php?keywords=Ref_No_increment;EQUALS;DCHQ 009763&action=zoom&pos=26&id=114864&continueUrl=

http://www.picturethepast.org.uk/frontend.php?keywords=Ref_No_increment;EQUALS;DCHQ 009762&action=zoom&pos=27&id=114863&continueUrl=

http://www.picturethepast.org.uk/frontend.php?keywords=Ref_No_increment;EQUALS;DCHQ 009761&action=zoom&pos=28&id=114862&continueUrl=

http://www.picturethepast.org.uk/frontend.php?keywords=Ref_No_increment;EQUALS;DCHQ 009760&action=zoom&pos=29&id=114861&continueUrl=

http://www.picturethepast.org.uk/frontend.php?keywords=Ref_No_increment;EQUALS;DCHQ 009759&action=zoom&pos=30&id=114857&continueUrl=





that shot purports to be from 1948 that's a long time after the war for munitions to still be stacked there isn't it? they look like 4000 lb cookies or larger to my relatively untrained eye

PETERTHEEATER
12-02-2015, 11:29
Peter ~ yes we have two running so should we edit and combine with the first dated post taking priority ( Just a suggestion )
Dave.

MODS - Would you take a look at the other Harpur Hill thread 'RAF Harpur Hill' and subsume the content into this one (or vice versa if easier)

EDIT: Merged on 9 March

IanDDavidson
12-02-2015, 11:38
It does seem a lot of work to move the walls, but there are places where we know bombs were stored and the walls are clearly not straight.

Sheldon Common

http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm?lat=53.212009&lon=-1.758633&lz=14&rz=19&lt=OS&rt=satellite&lov=None&rov=None&lgrat=None&rgrat=None

http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm?lat=53.214881&lon=-1.772165&lz=14&rz=19&lt=OS&rt=satellite&lov=None&rov=None&lgrat=None&rgrat=None

http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm?lat=53.215532&lon=-1.775227&lz=14&rz=20&lt=OS&rt=satellite&lov=None&rov=None&lgrat=None&rgrat=None

Monyash ( Road from Parsley Hay)

http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm?lat=53.173046&lon=-1.778873&lz=14&rz=20&lt=OS&rt=satellite&lov=None&rov=None&lgrat=None&rgrat=None

http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm?lat=53.186002&lon=-1.779824&lz=14&rz=20&lt=OS&rt=satellite&lov=None&rov=None&lgrat=None&rgrat=None






Some comments on the above posts.

I would be a bit surprised if walls were moved to provide roadside storage. By 1943 all depots were instructed to find Class 'B roads with wide verges for this purpose.

May 1942 - the tunnels at Harpur were emptied pending urgent roof repairs likely to take 6 months. The new RAF depot at Wortley took much of the stock, but this would need relocating as on 1 October the site was handed over to the USAAF.

March 1944 - the Sheldon and Monyash sub-sites were in use.

In May 1945 Ashbourne and Darley airfields were taken over by 28MU for bomb storage. October 1946 saw 10,000 tons at each airfield, plus 14,000 tons at Harpur.

At the beginning of January 1949 No.42 Group had 396,000 tons of munitions of which 23,000 tons were stored along Britain's roads. At this time the decision was made to empty Harpur's underground storage for safety reasons.

On 31 December 1949 roadside storage was 8,000 tons.

PETERTHEEATER
12-02-2015, 11:41
Rusty brain (again) but I think we determined that dry stone walling on some of the Wortley roadside sites had been moved to widen the verges?

leftorium
13-02-2015, 18:30
And a few more photos here. All labelled 1940




I'm sceptical about the date surely the Luftwaffe bombing campaign was at it's height and Sheffield and Manchester copped it exposed storage like this seems very vulnerable plus I imagine there would have been a very dim view indeed of any photography of the stacks

ColinA
13-02-2015, 19:50
I'm sceptical about the date surely the Luftwaffe bombing campaign was at it's height and Sheffield and Manchester copped it exposed storage like this seems very vulnerable plus I imagine there would have been a very dim view indeed of any photography of the stacks

Those stores are spaced to prevent a simultaneous detonation of the stacks. (In theory.)
Also the large bombs and shells were very difficult to manage underground.
In 1940 were they more concerned to get the Mustard gas weapons under cover?
Before they were aware of the number of leakers in confined spaces.

Carnaby
13-02-2015, 20:49
Roadside storage was regarded as 'last resort' and certainly would not have been used in 1940. By March 1941 the principal purpose-built parks and depots were becoming unmanageable and all were requested to find sub-sites. In most cases neighbouring woodland was used. By mid 1942 these were also stocked to capacity and the order was given to find suitable roads. As an example the Meldreth / Kneesworth road was closed in July 1942 to stock weapons for 95MU Lords Bridge and roadside storage was approved for 93 MsU Pilmoor on 16 Jan 1943.

Harboda77
14-02-2015, 10:40
If the CW's had been detonated by enemy bombing action could any resulting gas cloud have rolled down into Buxton ?

Does any one know the back ground to why a man would be holding a Zeppelin bomb in the 1940 picture ? ( In image ref :DCHQ009760 )

PETERTHEEATER
14-02-2015, 13:40
The gases were actually viscous liquids and those contained in bombs with a burster charge would form an aerosol but not long lasting. The droplets however were persistent and would contaminate the ground. Despite the Buxton CW being on high ground it was undulating and burst bombs would more likely have formed pockets of contamination. Doubtful that the enemy would have deliberately targeted such sites considering their strategy of bombing cities and ports using Knickbein.

The bomb in the picture I don't think is German more likely British being a modification to a trench mortar shell. The Zeppelins early bombs were the Carbonit type short and fat replaced by the very streamined PuW series being dart shaped.

ColinA
14-02-2015, 14:23
One thing that "might" tie in with the 1940 date.
The UK. stock of chemical weapons were being returned hurridly from France. To be stored at
Harpur Hill ('E' site), plus the sub site at the Butterton railway tunnel.

Prehaps this explains field storage of HE.

Carnaby
14-02-2015, 22:52
Some of those photos are entitled:

A shell store in Buxton , possibly on Harpur Hill. 1940.

They are clearly bombs, not shells. I suspect this obvious error also questions the validity of '1940'.

Harpur's 'E' site was new and Fowey's weapons arrived in 27 trucks - not a huge amount. I don't remember anything in the ORB regarding external storage as early as 1940, though there was the problem in March 1940 when it was discovered that the tunnel height in the underground storage was 6 foot and the height of an unloaded rail truck was 6ft 1in which would have been a hiccup until the rails were lowered.

IanDDavidson
03-03-2015, 10:57
The information board at Hassop station makes reference to ammunition handling in WW2. This might well have been the railhead for the roadside bomb storage at Taddington, Monyash, Sheldon and Haddon Grove.

The sites are between 6 miles and 3 miles distant as the crow flies.









Some comments on the above posts.

I would be a bit surprised if walls were moved to provide roadside storage. By 1943 all depots were instructed to find Class 'B roads with wide verges for this purpose.

May 1942 - the tunnels at Harpur were emptied pending urgent roof repairs likely to take 6 months. The new RAF depot at Wortley took much of the stock, but this would need relocating as on 1 October the site was handed over to the USAAF.

March 1944 - the Sheldon and Monyash sub-sites were in use.

In May 1945 Ashbourne and Darley airfields were taken over by 28MU for bomb storage. October 1946 saw 10,000 tons at each airfield, plus 14,000 tons at Harpur.

At the beginning of January 1949 No.42 Group had 396,000 tons of munitions of which 23,000 tons were stored along Britain's roads. At this time the decision was made to empty Harpur's underground storage for safety reasons.

On 31 December 1949 roadside storage was 8,000 tons.

IanDDavidson
05-03-2015, 22:51
The rough field area with the railway is Harpur Hill E site. (I have just found the site drawings). The field was extensively developed with more than 60 storage buildings, described as brick and concrete. The attached thumbnail shows the boundary of E site.

21583






Peter,

The area marked with the yellow arrow is the place we called Washgate Bridge, over the Dove, just south-west of Cartwright's farm. I don't know if I've done right but these are blown up from Google.

If you Google Harpur Hill you will see the Blue Lagoon (more like turquoise), just south of Burlow Road. Scanning due south you will pass over an open area which was designated as an RAF emergency landing ground on flight-plan maps of that era. You will then come to the copse shown in the other pic. Immediately to the left is the rough field area with surface marks which were made by the miniature railway already described. There are some pits around that area.
The oblong red is where the incendiaries accidentally(?) caught fire. The yellow spots mark the pill-boxes. Googling around the lanes will give you a perfect familiarization of the area. There is a wonderful panoramic view of the storage area and all around the horizon from the south-east pill-box. Well worth a visit!

The Luftwaffe used to drop the odd bomb or incendiary in the area when returning from Liverpool and Manchester raids in the rather vain hope of hitting something worthwhile. One incendiary hit the church at nearby Earl Sterndale which was next to the house where I was born and burned the roof off. Lord Haw-Haw even threatened the good people of Harpur Hill with a visit.

Harboda77
06-03-2015, 08:08
I've read in another thread on the site some where that the CW from Fowey arrived in 27 lorry loads ?

Assuming they were an average of 3 tons per lorry the total CW weight would be in the 80 to 100 ton range.

Please correct my understanding if some one has better information.

IanDDavidson
11-06-2015, 13:55
Hartington was a sub-site of 28 MU.

My note says:

An AIR document names Hartington as a sub site of 28 MU Harpur Hill.

Local knowledge via IanDDavidson (AiX) says that Green Lane here was used for verge-side storage and was the Hartington site.

A single line railway ran directly to the west and would have provided transportation.

Hartington Station would have provided a railhead if munitions were trucked.

The sub-depot was both sides of green lane from Mere farm in the east to its junction with the B5054 in the west.

The railhead was on the old High peak railway.

All storage was open stacks on the wide verges either side of the roads.

Bowes Moor was not related to 28 MU Harpur Hill and




I previously identified a roadside bomb storage site near Hartington, served by the railhead on the Cromford and High Peak line, ( Now High Peak Trail ), where it crosses green lane.

Further enquiries have identified the site of the Hartington Sub Depot itself.

Picket post at SK 12007 59475 (Base extant)

Evidence of 7 hut bases at SK 12707 58892

Extant toilet block at SK 12682 58838 (in ruins)

RAF staff billeted at Beresford Cottage SK 12676 58709

I met a local man who served on site in WW2 as a Fireman. He confirmed 7 Nissen huts, and the storage of SAA, and flares. No CW, bombs or incendiaries were stored here.

Shipments were packed and taken by road to Hartington Station ( SK 14975 61122 ) for onward shipment.

PETERTHEEATER
12-06-2015, 13:30
Thanks Ian, finding someone who actually worked there is surprising but fortunate. I must try and remember to re-read your post tomorrow on my main computer and update my notes.