ICI Nobel Explosives Part V

I know what you’re thinking – you’re thinking when the hell am I going to STFU about Ardeer? Soon, I promise 😉 This was a revisit to walk the last few unexplored paths, go into every building I’ve missed, and hunt down a few loose ends – plus get better pictures of some places for my book project. There were a few bonuses, though…

First up, one of the four gunpowder presses – GP4 is a “Yankee” horizontal hydraulic press, which was apparently preferred by the workers.

GP1-3 are vertical hydraulic presses.

GP1 still has the controls, dials etc – it’s in the best condition.

I found a wee book of photos (see later) – and one was of a vertical press in use, around 1935.

Next, onto the detonator test building.

A drop test machine – still works…

Next onto the labs – I just really stopped here for lunch, but decided on another wee poke about and found a big stash of paperwork – first some time-lapse photos:

Then lots and lots of plans – including the beautiful ballistic mortar, and some plans of the labs. They mostly date from 1912-13.

One of the lab plans had a handwritten note on the back: “I have viewed this drawing several times – it is a good one – they were artists in 1912. The drawing helps to tell the history of the Testing Station, because I expect the buildings will be altered in the near future and then no other drawing and no person will be able to recall what is inscribed herein. JH 18/1/54”
The plans are different to the current layout of the labs, so whoever wrote this was right.

I also found a wee booklet – for the 60th Anniversary Dinner for the Foreman’s Association. There were a bunch more interesting pictures in there – not at brilliant resolution, but some I’ve not seen anywhere else. The press one above came from this booklet – here are some others, first the factory gate in 1949:

The original nitroglycerine hill and dynamite cartridging huts – probably about 1890.

The nitrocellulose department in WWI:

Also in the drawer was a big plastic hand – no idea why…

Elsewhere, a much better shot of the rotating-mirror camera:

A couple of ballistic mortar projectiles, with a slide rule for calculating explosive power:

Finally, the silica gel drying stoves:

And a storage magazine:

Go to the next installment…

All images:


Leave a Reply