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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

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:)