The Royal Ordnance Factory Bridgend-ROF 53



The History of the Royal Ordnance Factory, Bridgend

In July 1935, the British government, after many months of studying the new German war machine, and the different scenarios that could happen if Germany decided to go to war, decided to relocate the Ordnance factory from it's location in Woolwich, well within range of the German bombers to several locations "inland" around the country.

The largest site was to be located in Bridgend, South Wales, far enough away from the German bombers, good road and rail networks, within easy access of the ports in South Wales, such as Swansea, Cardiff and Barry. It's position just below the Welsh coalfields was also a bonus, as these large factories relied on a plentiful supply of coal, for the steam that kept the machinery going, and the heat from the steam pipes that would keep the munitions storage warm and dry underground. The Massive steelworks nearby in Margam could supply the plant with all it's requirements Due to the ground in the area, very marshy, the whole area was from time to time surrounded by a low lying mist; even if the bombers reached here, they may not even see the site. Aside from all of this, severely depressed areas of the countries had priority over others, so work had to come to Bridgend.

In April 1936, over 900 acres of land in the Waterton and Brackla areas were compulsory purchased, nearly all farmland.

Royal Ordnance factory 53 was to be built on the Waterton site, sites 11 and 41 were to be built on the sites in Brackla. In April 1937, the Great Western Railway began constructing the many miles of railway needed to supply the sites, including the sidings needed at Brackla Ridge, and the feed lines for the munitions, as well as marshalling yards. Tremains halt near Waterton, the station for the employess was also constructed, a concrete platform on the Up main line, a wooden one on the Down main line. A footbridge was also constructed here, the remnants of which can been seen today.

Gee Walker & Slater Limited, and Sir Lindsay Parkinson & Co Ltd were the contractors awarded the project to build the massive complex on the Waterton site. The factories 11 and 41 at the Brackla site along with the Magazine tunnels were built by Sir Robert McAlpine and sons Ltd.  Along with the hundreds of specialist buildings, over 60 miles of roadway and more than 24 miles of railway track were required to service the complex.

By 1940, the sites were in full production, nearly 40,000 people worked at the factory, the largest employer in the country, and would be until the 1960's 


All Images unless otherwise stated are the property of the author ©Richard Williams 2005-2008