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Ministry of Supply Factory, Dalbeattie -
 View of Nitration Hills, Unit 2 (Edingham)

Ministry of Supply Factory, Dalbeattie
World War II Cordite Works

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Main Line Railway Stations :-

Key Facts :-

  • Site served by Dumfries to Stranraer 'Paddy Line'.
  • Goods stations at Unit 1 and Unit 2.
  • Unit 1 largely intact but yard full of dumped demolition rubble.
  • Unit 2 overbuilt.
  • Southwick Passenger Halt survives abandoned.
  • Dalbeattie Passenger Station mostly overbuilt.
  • Separate Cordite Loading Station.
  • Deliberate separation of passenger, freight and product transport.

Southwick Halt from the West near the railway crossing in 1965.
Southwick Halt from the West near the railway crossing in 1965.
© Dalbeattie Museum Trust


Railway Stations at M/S Factory Dalbeattie :

Introduction...

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.




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© 2006 Richard Edkins, Dalbeattie Internet.