Explosion at Broughton Moor Munitions Dump in wartime

Explosive chemicals
The danger of explosion was always present
Earth bunds protect neighbours
If your building exploded then earth walls keep the next building safe ...?
Explosion in 1944
Sadly on Jan 18th 1944 an explosion destroyed one munitions assembly and killed 11 local people
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Explosion at Broughton Moor Munitions Dump in wartime

Oral history by Cockermouth lady about her mother working at the munitions factory at the Royal Navy Armaments Depot, locally known as “The Dump” in Broughton Moor in West Cumbria.  Huge shells were prepared and stored there and this lady’s mother worked there in WW2.  One day her mother came home distressed but could not explain why to her daughter and had to go back to work at the munitions “Dump” the next day.  The secrecy was unveiled when the time restriction of the Official Secrets Act expired and there was a memorial service to those who died that day.

Explosion at the RNAD Works Broughton Jan 18th 1944

The Royal Naval Armaments Depot (RNAD) was developed on compulsory purchased land before the start of the Second World War. It stretches across the Parish boundaries of Broughton, Broughton Moor, Camerton and Seaton. It covers an area of 1050 acres (425 hectares).

Over a 54 year period, from approximately 1938 to 1992, the site formed part of an active ammunitions storage, inspection, repair and proofing facility under the ownership of the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

On January 18th , 1944, a huge explosion at I RNAD killed eleven people working inside General Purpose Laboratory Room Number 3. A report into the tragedy stated that the most likely cause was a sensitive fuse in a naval mortar bomb. 72 lbs of high explosive in the laboratory exploded and this blast detonated 1,296 pounds of high explosive in a railway truck outside. The tremor was felt 15 miles away.

The laboratory and its six foot thick concrete walls were severely damaged. The tragedy was not fully reported in the local press at the time but because of wartime restrictions could only be reported has having happened ‘in a North Western works’.

The death toll.

Mrs. Mary Barnes Mrs. Gertrude Fee Miss Jean Lister Mr. Edward Lynch

Mr. William Morrison Mrs. Elizabeth Moses Mr Henry Rook Mrs. Patricia Scutts

Miss. Mary Smith Mr. Robert Swanston Mrs. Ann Wilson

One of the dead, Mrs. Elizabeth Moses, was the mother of Private Thomas Henry Moses who was killed on the retreat to Dunkirk.

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For further information please contact peterincumbria at gmail dot com.

Created / Uploaded by Peter Nicholson

Click here for Oral history video illustrated recording by Cockermouth lady whose mother worked at “The Dump” when the explosion happened.

Remembrance Service held on January 23rd 1994 at Broughton RNAD to remember those who died in the explosion on
January 18th 1944.