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Xan_Asmodi
18-10-2011, 17:31
We didn't intend to go to Llanberis, even though it was on our list of possibles. Our target was Denbigh, but given the horrible amount of rain that passed through North Wales that afternoon we decided to skip it. We where already on the A55 so we decided to press on in the hope of better weather and failing that, a better site.

Royal Air Force Llanberis was opened as an explosive storage unit in May 1941

From Subbrit (http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/sites/l/llanberis/index.shtml):


On 18th August 1939, the Air Ministry sought approval to acquire the disused Glynrhonwy Isaf slate quarry which had closed in 1930; the quarry, near Llanberis in North Wales, was deemed suitable for the storage of 18,000 tons of bombs.

From bunkertours.co.uk (http://www.bunkertours.co.uk/llanberis.htm)


Part of the site resembles eight parallel railway tunnels opening out into a vast concrete tank about 100 metres by 60, with walls 12 metres high. The area was a cut-and-cover construction, formed in the bed of a large slate quarry. There were two levels, and the site was very compact, albeit large. A similar construction was used at Harpur Hill - but never again.

The ceiling of the lower levels forms the floor of the upper levels, which have an arched roof, covered with 8 metres depth of slate waste. One of the galleries is wider and slightly higher than the others, and has a single track railway line running into it the full length, with a wide platform on the North West side and a narrow one the other. An entire train of railway wagons could be brought in for loading and unloading. Such a train, of 27 wagons according to McCamley, was inside of 25 January 1942 when the roof of half the space collapsed, burying the wagons and blocking the only goods exits but not exploding. At the time, 14,000 tons of munitions were stored there, all suddenly inaccessible. Over the next nine months most of the bombs were recovered through the back entrance, which was an adit to another slate quarry. This was a seventy-foot deep pit, and the bombs had to be lifted out of the pit. An inspection at Harpur Hill showed signs of weakness, and much of the overburden was hastily removed. Since the level of the overburden at Llanberis today is not level with the top of the quarry pit, this may also have been done at Llanberis over the uncollapsed part.

[...]

Royal Navy divers were co-opted to investigate the contents of a large lake in one of the pits as it was suspected that it might contain some explosive items. The divers reported that the bed of the lake was littered with explosive items including a number of large bombs. Subsequently, over 20,000,000 gallons (90,920,000 liters) of water and sludge were pumped out. By April 1973 the lake was emptied revealing everyone's worst fears—it took a further two years of hard labour to recover and dispose of the explosive items revealed. Fortunately, this pit was one of those to which 38 Engineer Regiment, RE, had constructed a road, otherwise the task would have been impossible.


_______________PICTURES_______________

[1]
Our first view of the tank area
http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6010/5927315243_29bc9821d1_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/xanakuma/5927315243/)

[2]
The two rail tunnels
http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6002/5927873860_04541e68dd_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/xanakuma/5927873860/)

[3]
We soon found out that what people had said about it being sealed is true
http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6009/5934828300_0a77b3d55d_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/xanakuma/5934828300/)

[4]
Inside the big tunnel. Kromax used as a point of reference to scale
http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6013/5927872910_ff08f43390_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/xanakuma/5927872910/)

[5]
Four higher and this would be much cooler
http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6025/5927318181_30a640fbd6_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/xanakuma/5927318181/)

[6]
http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6025/5927876498_86100798da_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/xanakuma/5927876498/)

[7]
http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6149/5927317015_e76718bfe1_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/xanakuma/5927317015/)


After seeing how sealed it was, we decided to go and search for the back entrance to the store in the hope of gaining access that way. We hope a fence and went for a walk down into an old quarry. Once we pushed through the trees surrounding the edge of the quarry, we where astounded by the view. I assume this is the pit referred to by Bunker Tours


[8]
http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6025/5927878280_5d78a9aae5_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/xanakuma/5927878280/)

Making our way down we found an old mining tunnel

[9]
http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6146/5927319293_12a12533b2_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/xanakuma/5927319293/)

[10]
http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6149/5927318467_e0d4d714df_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/xanakuma/5927318467/)

Xan_Asmodi
18-10-2011, 17:33
Further into the quarry we realised we'd have to go round the ridge in photo 8. After pushing through the trees behind the ridge, everything we'd seen paled in comparison to the vista in front of us. Here I move onto Kromax's pics as I neglected to take enough

I assume this is the pit mentioned on the Bunker Tours website

[11]
http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/269684_10150304971891955_508511954_9527009_8360375 _n.jpg

[12]
http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/268704_10150304974286955_508511954_9527043_3808541 _n.jpg

Cheers, Kromax!

After we exited the pit we tried another one near by, and it was DEEP. ex0 went off for a scout around, but couldn't find a safe or suitable way down.

Before we made it back to the car I had to take a shot looking south east across the lake.

[13]
http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6126/5927878454_64c86dda69_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/xanakuma/5927878454/)

canberra
23-10-2011, 11:37
Wasnt it Llanberis that held a lot of important artifacts such as paintings during wwii?

John Anderson
23-10-2011, 20:40
"Secret Underground Cities" by N J Mc Camley (published by Leo Cooper 1998) states that the V&A and British Museum exhibits went to Westwood stone quarry, part of the Bradford on Avon complex. The National Gallery collection initially went to surface storage in the Bangor and Aberystwyth area then to Manod slate quarry near Ffestiniog. Llanberis may have been used though no mention in the book.

Carnaby
23-10-2011, 21:41
Llanberis may have been used though no mention in the book.
Storing priceless works of art together with 15,000 tons of HE would not have been a good idea. 31MU was not used for this purpose.

PETERTHEEATER
24-10-2011, 07:02
Although I was part of a 'recce' team that visited the Llanberis RAD site a couple of times I just missed being involved in the actual Bomb Disposal/EOD clearance of the site. The task became monumental and took up resources for years. Even now HMG cannot off-load the site onto the local council and it remains fenced off.

ColinBa
24-10-2011, 09:23
There is a very good description of the clearance with photos in Designed to Kill by Major Arthur Hogben
Amazon link here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Designed-Kill-History-British-Disposal/dp/0850598656/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1319444422&sr=1-1

PETERTHEEATER
24-10-2011, 09:39
Re Post #1, Image #2, there was one rail tunnel the other was road access.

Carnaby
24-10-2011, 10:36
Re Post #1, Image #2, there was one rail tunnel the other was road access.
The northernmost access was standard gauge. The southernmost was narrow gauge which split into two short sidings immediately it entered the underground complex.
Outside it ended in a large loading platform area. You can just see where the track ran in the centre here (http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm?lat=53.126280244799204&lon=-4.13486123085022&gz=19&oz=10&gt=1).

PETERTHEEATER
26-10-2011, 06:42
Yes, as I recall the southern portal was paved for road access with a single narrow-gauge rail running through. Both the narrow gauge and standard gauge originated from a set of sidings used as a 'marshalling' yard located where the factory (and your marker) are now. It's easy to forget that the 'open' area as you emerge from the tunnels is the collapsed area cleared of all the superstructure rubble.

It may be that the narrow-gauge access was part of the former slate quarry workings. A late uncle of mine was a Llanberis born and bred Welshman who worked all his life in the slate quarries and he would tell me hair-raising stories of the RAD collapse.

IanDDavidson
23-11-2011, 17:29
Yes, as I recall the southern portal was paved for road access with a single narrow-gauge rail running through. Both the narrow gauge and standard gauge originated from a set of sidings used as a 'marshalling' yard located where the factory (and your marker) are now. It's easy to forget that the 'open' area as you emerge from the tunnels is the collapsed area cleared of all the superstructure rubble.

It may be that the narrow-gauge access was part of the former slate quarry workings. A late uncle of mine was a Llanberis born and bred Welshman who worked all his life in the slate quarries and he would tell me hair-raising stories of the RAD collapse.


Lots of great detail here: http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/sites/l/llanberis/index.shtml