The Proving Ground

This MoD proving ground operated from 1940 to 1995, shared between the Navy and the Army. There were two 150m ranges and one 75m range – the larger two each had 8 firing positions and 6 sand-filled heavy concrete butts. The proving ground tested everything from rifles to 7.2in Howitzers.

The site is now used by a selection of businesses who have brought their own interesting artifacts to add to what the MoD left behind…

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Barnton Quarry Bunker

It’s not what you expect to find in Scotland’s capital city, right next to the zoo – A WWII and Cold War bunker complex in the middle of a golf course. Barnton Quarry produced high quality building stone up until about 1914, before being abandoned. Then, during in WWII, a large surface complex of buildings was built to act as the Operations Room for the Turnhouse Sector of RAF Fighter Command.

The main Ops Room:

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Royal Ordnance Factory Bishopton

The Royal Ordnance Factories were built during the rearmament phase of the 1930’s, just in time for WWII – Bishopton was by far the largest, employing over 20,000 workers at it’s peak in three almost-self-contained factories within one perimeter fence. Factory III closed down almost immediately after the war, but factories I and II continued production of cordite, picrite (an anti-flashing and stabilising agent), RDX, white phosphorus, ball powder (gunpowder) and various other explosives and propellants up until the year 2000.

I spent three days exploring ROF Bishopton, taking hundreds of pictures – even the edited highlights run to 270 pictures, so this is just a brief summary of this absolutely massive (2.5 x 1.5 miles) site. I’ll do it in order of my explorations.

Bishopton had over 20 miles of standard-gauge rail lines – these were used with the ROF’s own fleet of diesel locos to move raw materials and finished propellant. This is one engine shed for the diesel engines:

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BVT Surface Fleet

BVT is a merger between BAE Systems and VT Shipbuilding, formed in July 2008. BAE owned some shipyards in Glasgow – Govan and Scotstoun. VT was based in Portsmouth. They build and service naval vessels, including the new Type 45 Destroyers. Some of the buildings at the Scotstoun yard were being demolished, so I got in for a look before they were all gone.

This is what they looked like from the water, taken three weeks before:

Derelict Building (by Ben Cooper)

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Torpedo Testing Station

Loch Long’s Torpedo Testing Station is now almost 100 years old – it was completed in 1912, just in time for WWI. Embarrassingly, a German spy was found here in 1915, and the station finally closed in the 1980s.

This first picture is from 2005, showing how it looked then – unfortunately it was set on fire and one of the buildings has since been demolished.

Disused Quay (by Ben Cooper)

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