Railway Stations at M/S Factory Dalbeattie :
The railway from Dumfries to Dalbeatttie and onwards into Ayrshire to Bishopton was a key aspect of site operations. If
the railway bridges and viaducts still standing are inspected today, it will be seen that they were heavily strengthened
with engineering brickwork to ensure that the ammunition trains could use the lines safely. It is reported in a short
history assembled by Matthew Taylor, that in excess of a million tons of acid were produced at M/S Factory Dumfries
(Drungans) for guncotton manufacture and that a further 92,000 tons were produced for nitroglycerine manufacture. At
present, it can only be verified that the nitroglycerine was produced at M/S Factory Dalbeattie, as the two other factories
in the region produced different products. However, works at Girvan and Newton St. Boswell were also tied into M/S Factory
Dumfries, so more research is needed.
In addition, thousands of tons of coal were moved annually to heat and power the explosives factories strung out along
the railway, also an unquantified amount of glycerine for nitration into explosives and a range of other chemicals, which
included acetone, ether, ethyl alcohol, sulphur, cotton waste and probably nitroguanidine. The staff of the factories were
in most cases wartime conscripts who were billeted a considerable distance away, some who worked at Dalbeattie sleeping in
Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Gatehouse of Fleet and Castle Douglas, so they, too, generally reached the factories by rail.
The Stations :
In all, there were five stations that served the Ministry of Supply Factory Dalbeattie :-
- Dalbeattie Railway Station : Located on Station Road, Dalbeattie (NGR NX832615), about 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers)
from the Gatehouse of Unit 2 (Edingham). According to Katherine Mounsey, there was a bus service between the Dalbeattie
Station and the Edingham Gatehouse of the Factory.
- Southwick Halt : Located at Quahead (NGR NX856634), beside the Gatehouse of
Unit 1 (Southwick). Staff walked from there the up to half a mile to the Southwick and Edingham Canteens.
- Goods Yards :
- Unit 1 (Southwick) Goods Yard (NGR NX851631). The larger yard and maybe
originally the main unloading area. The main access point to the main line between Dumfries and Stranraer.
- Unit 2 (Edingham) Goods Yard (NGR NX844626). Smaller scale, surprisingly so,
with no direct access to the main line.
- See Central Services Area page for more details of both Goods Yards.
- Cordite Loading Station (NGR NX844625). South of the main railway line with
its own siding in the Maidenholm Packing and Magazine section.
Dalbeattie Station and Southwick Halt definitely received staff members working at the two sites, who were only allowed
inside the perimeter after being searched at the Gatehouses for contraband materials that could cause a fire or generate a
spark. The two Station Yards appear to have been deliberately restricted to consignments of guncotton, raw materials and
equipment entering the works and to acids and other chemicals leaving for re-processing. The Cordite Loading Station was
restricted to the loading and shipping out of cases of finished cordite and black powder.
This remarkable system only became clear after a thorough survey and an analysis of staff accounts. Although separating
staff and freight was inconvenient for staff travel, it reduced the risk of fire, explosion or malicious damage, all of
which could cost lives and damage a vital part of the war effort.