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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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Factory Canteens :-

Key Points :-

  • Separate staff Canteens for each Unit.
  • Office Canteen at Administrative Offices.
  • Main staff Canteens survive.
  • Capacity of Canteens unknown.
  • Meals, drinks, toilet facilities.
  • Lower floor may have had clothes store, locker rooms and laundry, like the similar buildings at M/S Dumfries (Drungans).
  • Adjacent to railway yards.
  • Some staff names known in Unit 2.
  • Unit 2 Canteen in use by Milk Link.

Unit 1 Canteen from Goods Yard, MS Factory Dalbeattie
Unit 1 Canteen from Goods Yard

The Factory Canteens in M/S Factory Dalbeattie :

Like all major wartime industrial sites, the MS Factory Dalbeattie had to provide washing, changing, meals and refreshment facilities, for the duty shifts. Separate Canteens were provided on the first floor of blocks adjacent to each Unit's railway station, for the factory staff. Administrative staff - who were housed outside the security perimeter - had their own much smaller canteen facility adjacent to their office buildings. Although this third facility has long gone, the staff Canteens for Unit 2 (Edingham) and Unit 1 (Southwick) still survive.

Staff Canteen Unit 1 (Southwick) :

This was badly vandalised by the time it was inspected in late May 2006, the writer having to climb staircases choked with rubble to reach the canteen at first floor level. The southwest end of the Canteen level had the Canteen kitchen to the left and on the right the remains of two mens' toilet areas - a six-booth toilet with urinal and a one-booth toilet with urinal, very obviously for workmen and foremen. Beyond the large open-plan Canteen area, lit on each side by windows and with lugs for supporting central heating pipes and radiators, there was a small refreshments kitchen area to the left and a ladies' six-booth toilet with a single multi-tank flushing tank. The ceramic bowls of the toilets and washbasins were either smashed or gone.

One unusual feature in construction had made the vandals' task easier; the partition walls were made from moulded multichamber building tiles rather than bricks, faced with plaster. This had been presumably done to give a lighter construction and so spare the foundations.

The ground floor of the Unit 1 Canteen is currently an open-plan area with access through a goods and a staff doorway. This floor was cleared for use as radiator storage by Stelrad's, with only a toilet area and the boiler house remaining. Adam Barber of Dupont Teijin Dumfries (formerly ICI Drungans) recalled that there had been a north and south Canteen in Drungans, the lower floor in each Canteen block being used as locker rooms, clothes storage and possibly as a laundry.

Staff Canteen Unit 2 (Edingham) :

This became part of the administrative wing of the Stelrad factory after 1960 and has been extensively altered since then, but remains in good condition. The ground floor was converted to office space and a small canteen, a small wing added for the reception used by Milk Link. A visit to the site was made on 13th July 2006, to establish what traces remain of the original design. It was established that the old canteen lower floor had been subdivided into conference rooms and a small snack bar, with a similar arrangement on the first floor.

Staff Use of the Canteen :

All staff used the Canteen at the beginning of the shift to change into work clothes, with a fresh issue of laundered clothes at least once weekly. At the beginning and end of the shift - and during mid-shift breaks - staff could use the Canteen proper for either light snacks or a cooked meal. Mr. Nicholson, manager of the Acid Plant, referred to staff having a 'Spray Bath' at the end of their shift. Whilst the canteen would have been a logical location for this, the only known spray baths (shower units) were the Decontamination Unit spray baths in the Fire Station, near the Canteen. The other possibility is the building tentatively identified as the Station Office, which for various reasons might have been a shower block with toilets and separate changing rooms.


© 2006 Richard Edkins, Dalbeattie Internet.