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Royal Ordnance Factory
When researching the history of Birchwood and of the former Royal Ordnance Factory at Risley, I found that I wanted to place Risley into the national picture, to see how many other similar factories there were, where they were situated and what has become of the sites today.
The World War II factories were managed by what was then the Ministry of Supply and they were grouped into:
In addition, there were other factories in the private sector that were contracted by the Ministry of Supply to produce munitions.
There were 16 operational Royal Ordnance Filling Factories, although a total of 20 were planned. Risley was one such filling factory and was designated Filling Factory 6.
List of Filling Factories
When researching the list of factories, most sources seem to agree, but I have also found the odd inconsistency. The most widely used list is as published on Wikipedia and elsewhere which lists the factories as follows:
From this list, numbers 12, 13, 19 and 20 have been omitted. These were the factories planned for Swindon, Macclesfield, Tutbury and Northampton that were never built.
The inconsistency mentioned above is that one
source also mentions a factory at Rochdale, although I have not managed to find
any other information about it or references to it. The same source also
omitted Brackla from its list. The Brackla and Bridgend factories were very close
to one another and seemed to operate as if different areas of the same factory
In comparison to the other sites, I would say that most of the signs of Risley have disappeared with the exception of within the business park areas, although some paths, particularly in Gorse Covert, follow the old factory road layout. Many of the roads within MEPC Birchwood Park are from the ROF and some of the buildings also date from that period. Until about 2007, the Trident Business Park comprised old buildings several of which still had remains of old railway tracks into the buildings. Since then, there has been substantial redevelopment, some of the old buildings have either been replaced or reclad and modernised and the surrounding roads have been relaid, making the units much more attractive to prospective businesses, but losing the connection with the past.
On the next four pages, I have looked into the locations of each of the 16 factories, looking at what is there today. For most of the locations, I have embedded a Google satellite view of the factory site, although I have deliberately omitted two, because the sites are still operational today. Most of them can also be seen in Google's Street View, which was expanded to cover most of the UK in March 2010. If you use Google Earth, you might be able to look at some of the historical imagery, which has limited coverage going as far back as 1945. Sadly many of the ROFs are not included, but one notable exception is Aycliffe, well worth a look. Other examples where much more recent changes can be seen are at Chorley and Elstow.