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The Story of the
Holton Heath, Dorset, UK
Royal Naval Cordite Factory

The Factory in World War I

Once a decision had been made on the site the factory was constructed and working in the remarkably short time of nine months. In order to achieve this considerable manpower was drafted in so that, it is said, the factory construction affected many other projects across the country.

On one Friday in 1916, the contractor, Topham, Jones and Railton, laid off 500 bricklayers as the work was coming to an end. Works continued for some time on less important aspects and, for instance, the rail embankment to Rockley Pier for dispatch of Cordite was not finished until the end of the war.

The nucleus of the operating staff was provided by The Royal Gunpowder Works at Waltham Abbey and personnel were also sent there from Dorset to obtain training. There seemed to be no shortage of workers willing to face the hazards of an explosives factory and they were better paid than the local agricultural workers.