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Ministry of Supply Factory, Dalbeattie -
 View of Nitration Hills, Unit 2 (Edingham)

Ministry of Supply Factory, Dalbeattie
World War II Cordite Works

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The Three-Chamber Magazine :-

Key Points :-

  • Located just east of the Unit 2 Cordite Milling buildings and west of the SSC building group and Embanked Process House.
  • Mounded over and semi-sunk.
  • Grilled vents/windows to three chambers.
  • Chamber floors of gritless asphalt covered in dried slurry.
  • Accessways collapsed or walled up.
  • Interpretation as Expense Magazine.
  • Nearest structures handle explosives.
  • No comparable structure in Unit 1.
  • Within area described by David Ferguson as 'Black Powder works'.

Unit 2 3-Chamber Magazine : Grilles over window openings on south side
Unit 2 3-Chamber Magazine : Grilles over window openings on south side

The Three-Chamber Magazine in Unit 2 (Edingham) :

This unique and unusual structure does not resemble other designs either of air-raid shelter or magazine, but it is a semi-sunk structure, mounded over and with two sealed (bricked up) entries. Examination of the entries (one collapsed) revealed that the Narrow Gauge bogie railway looped through the building, which could be accessed from either end. The most unusual feature is three heavy metal grilles on the southwest long side covering brick-built vents or windows with good views into the three chambers that give the structure its survey title. The floors visible through the gratings are of acid-resistant gritless asphalt covered in about 100 mm.or dried and fissured slurry. There is a vent in the roof of each chamber, the middle chamber having a pile of old shotgun cartridges under its vent. An old armoured slurry hose lay on the top of the magazine.

Matthew Taylor told the writer on a site visit on 21st May 2006 that the structure had been walled up to serve as a tank for human slurry from the Dalbeattie sewage farm, proving itself a leakproof container, the slurry later being used as a land fertiliser. The grilles were installed as a replacement for vandalised reinforced glass windows, to prevent local teenagers getting inside. However, the 3-chamber Magazine is no longer used to store slurry and has served as a dump for used shotgun cartridges.

Location and Nearest Processes :

The nearest structures to the entrance are :-

Careful examination of the landscape near the Cordite Paste Rolling House in Unit 1 has not revealed a comparable structure to this 'Three Chamber Magazine', so this Magazine has to be considered unique.

Unit 2 3-chamber Magazine - Interior end chamber
3-chamber Magazine - Interior end chamber. Safety light on end wall.
3-chamber Magazine - NW Entry (walled up)
3-chamber Magazine - NW Entry (walled up)

The Function of the Three Chamber Magazine :

The nature of the floors and the 'straight through' access suggests a temporary store (an Expense Magazine ?) for an explosive or inflammable substance which cannot be moved rapidly to a magazine elsewhere. The structure most closely resembles the known 1-chamber mounded magazines south of the railway line, with its roof-vents above each chamber.

David Ferguson's statement that the Black Powder works was northeast of the Unit 2 station area came as a complete surprise to the writer, although it made sense of a conversion of SSC buildings from Blending and Packing Houses to process and storage of part-finished powders from M/S Factory Carsegowan.

The Three-Chamber Magazine fits into the scheme of a Black Powder works as an Expense or Test Sample Magazine, as is shown by the orientation of the traverses that supported the Narrow Gauge bogie railway. These traverses proved on the maps to run into the bogie network feeding the Short Single Chamber buildings group, at least eight of which may have been involved in Black Powder manufacture.

Considering its position, the Three-Chamber Magazine is convenient for placing samples of powder from each batch being packed in the neighbouring Embanked Process House (EPH). Its glazed reinforced windows and safety lights then make good sense, although it is less clear how the samples were transferred to the laboratory.

Conclusions :

No easy answers, only theories, but the writer feels that he was right to follow the Black Powder trail. Visitors are invited to forward their comments to, preferably with contact information such as name and phone to encourage discussion.


© 2006 Richard Edkins, Dalbeattie Internet.