View Full Version : Shefford, No.27 ASD - Chemical Warfare

12-12-2011, 15:23
Interesting IWM photographs of chemical warfare storage in Bedfordshire (via Colin BA) LINK (http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?filter%5BeventString%5D%5B0%5D=%22Second%20 World%20War%22&filter%5BplaceString%5D%5B0%5D=%22Shefford%2C%20Be dfordshire%2C%20England%2C%20UK%22&query=>)

12-12-2011, 19:38
Little surprised its titled 'Shefford' as it was part of the Chicksands operation.

FE location of the site:

Over the years I have found little or no information about the 'railway' that served the site, there is no record of it linking into the mainline, no record of it going (or coming from anywhere!) so would the site of had its own railway?

ted angus
12-12-2011, 22:24
Hi Jenna; I would guess Shefford was in the postal address at that time ?? I have been digging into rescue tenders for the MTCA (or its successor) and RAEs made by a company called HCB in the 1960s. One was delivered to Clapham another to Pocklington. After hours on Google I unearthed the delivery address in more detail- Clapham (Beds) was the postal address for RAE Bedford at one time!! ( As an aside Pocklington was discoved to be an MTCA and successor storge depot for vehicles and ground equipment)


13-12-2011, 06:50
Interesting. I was browsing the IWM photos last week.

A typical surface storage site where the old 'rides' were paved to provide road access to spaced stacks of munitions. The photograph of a Staff Sergeant inspector in a 'laboratory' shows that the site had an inspection facility for conventional shell as well as storage for chemical munitions. I suspect that there was no on-site railway nor a spur from a mainline but a railhead where stores were transferred between rail wagons and road trucks. The nearest convenient railhead might have been about 2.5 miles to the northeast via minor roads.

Although not related to this thread, those who have an interest in WW2 Chemical Weapons (CW) and their subsequent disposal may find this report enlightening:


13-12-2011, 17:52
Ted it could well be that Shefford was the main postal location at that time, although now long gone there was also a rail station in Shefford but were sites like this called after nearest rail stations like airfields?

HCB, as in HCB Angus?

Thanks Peter, Its interesting that the short section of Bedford-Arlsey(Hitchin) that goes between Southill and Shefford was only the only section of dual track on the line (upgraded in 1917 I believe)... although Shefford station would be too 'public' the platform at Southill as you suggest is nearby and a lot more secluded.

Although no direct link, Shefford was the home of a Royal Engineers unit (and training school) in the long gone water mill and nearby ice rink during WW2, also Chicksands (Pedley) Wood was part of the estate owned by the Osborn family of Chicksands Priory, they sold out to the crown in 1936 after the priory had been used during WW1 as a hospital (along with Haynes Park over the road) making it an ideal storage site.

FE Southill Station:

ted angus
13-12-2011, 20:57
yes it was HCB Hampshire Car Bodies, ( they build fire engine amongst other things)--they merged with George Angus who were a fire engineering company amongst other things hose, pumps hardware etc. on merge it became HCB-Angus

14-12-2011, 07:10

Southill Station is a likely spot for a railhead but there is still a suggestion that Chicksands Wood had some rail tracks.

Take this with a pinch of salt:




14-12-2011, 11:07
yes, there was a good report done by the Ampthill and District Archaeological and Local History Society under the guidance of Kevan Fadden a few years back which I think kicked off the interest in the ammo stores at Ampthill, Millbrook and Chicksands... the IWM photos are the first I know of that show the Chicksands site as it was, but sadly no actual views of the elusive 'railway'.

the ADAS report can still be found here

15-12-2011, 07:51
Thanks Jenna, as stated in the report a narrow gauge line (Decauville track) was quite likely to have been used. This would need to have circulated the storage huts and the 'platform' pictured in the Geo images (above links) and the report used to transfer boxes from truck (lorry) to rail flat-tops.

During the London 'Blitz' this site would have been storing and issuing large quantities of ammunition for anti-aircraft guns such as the 3.7 inch and 4.5 inch.

21-12-2011, 17:21
Many of the munitions would have taken the following route. The end section showing the LCT out of Cairnryan is most interesting..

21-12-2011, 20:41
Interesting film. Now if only someone had the forsight to store the stuff, we could have been supplying the Chinese with fireworks for the next 500 years, which would greatly have helped our current financial problems 8-).