The Royal Ordnance Factory Bridgend-ROF 53
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Described in guide books as a small market town, nestled at the foot of the Welsh Valleys, Bridgend can trace it's history back a long way, but it's the recent past that I'm interested in, and that is what I present here. Bridgend was a significant town during the second world war, primarily for two things, a prisoner of war camp in the town (Which also holds the record for the largest escape by enemy troops during the war), but also home to the largest munitions factory of it's type was located there over three massive sites.
There are only a few online references to the Royal Ordnance factory in Bridgend, so I hope that this site will help build up a picture of wartime Bridgend.
I have lived in Brackla for nearly twenty years, and I have always been aware of there being an Ordnance factory in Bridgend. My interest was first ignited as a youngster when I learned about the POW camp at Island Farm, and the fact that it was originally built to house workers in the Ordnance factory. The History of Island Farm Prisoner of war camp is under development with a sister site being built here. Please visit the site and leave your feedback in it's guestbook.
The three sites of the Ordnance factory covered a huge area, at what is now Bridgend Industrial Estate, Brackla Industrial estate, and Brackla Hill. The vast majority of buildings erected on these sites have long gone, their purpose , thankfully a thing of the past. I have photographed the remaining buildings, and sites where buildings once stood to try and build a picture of what can be found today. I was lucky to interview the current owner of the converted magazines under Brackla, who gave me a first hand account of building and working around the huge ordnance factory that was so critical to the success of the allies during the second world war. ROF53 had it's own newspaper, and examples of this can be seen here.
When the second world war came to an end and the cold war began, Brackla Hill was selected as the site that would govern Wales in the event of nuclear devastation. A new life was given to the tunnels under the hill..............one that would last for 30 years until 1991, when the order was given to stand down.
It is difficult for me to present the whole story here, as this is a part time passion for me. Research costs money and time. Please forgive me if a have omitted important details, have facts slightly wrong. Much of the words presented here have come from stories from the people who worked in the factory, friends and family. My main interest is the structure of the factory and what is left for us to see now. The definitive history of ROF53 has recently been published by a local author, MJ Clubb with P Tapper, entitled "The Welsh Arsenal". Please click here to find online.
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©Richard Williams 2005-2014
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