Guncotton Expense Magazines (GEM) at M/S Factory Dalbeattie :
Bagged Guncotton brought from M/S Drungans at Dumfries was unloaded at the Guncotton Unloading Stations in Unit 1 and Unit
2 and stored before use in the Burette Houses to make Cordite. Demolition of most of the Short Single Chamber buildings
between the KIrkgunzeon Lane and the Unit 2 site was thought to have destroyed the Guncotton (Nitrocellulose) storage. On
completion of field surveys at Unit 1 (Southwick), it was discovered that two embanked and demolished Houses stood close to
the Burette Houses. The characteristics and positions of these buildings - and the lack of other interpretations - made it
most likely that these were the storage for at least some of the Guncotton needed on a daily basis.
The Unit 2 (Edingham) equivalents of these Expense Magazines may have been completely destroyed during site clearances and the
construction of the Edingham Industrial Estate and Stelrad's radiator factory around the former Central Services Area in
Unit 2. An unidentified and now demolished embanked building of similar size to the Guncotton Expense Magazines of Unit 1
did exist next to the Unit 2 Cordite Rolling House (also referred to on this website as a Double Sided Building), but it
would be at a considerable distance from the Unit 2 Burette Houses. A more suitable location would have been on the site of
the small industrial units on the Estate or where Niven's Transport yard now stands.
It is hoped to use 1942 RAF air photographs of the site to provide more data on this and other site features.
Archaeological Evidence for the Guncotton Expense Magazines (GEM) :
The only surviving structures that may be these features are in Unit 1. They are both near the Burette Houses on the edge
of the slope holding Burette Houses 1/4 and 1/5 and the Unit 1 Nitroglycerine Section (NG HIll). :-
Initial map studies had revealed neither these structures nor Burette 1/6, presumably because the masking of the structures by
vegetation and damage had concealed the truth. There were no pipe supports running towards either building, unlike all the
other process buildings on the site.
- Guncotton Expense Magazine 1/1 : Located between Burette House 1/3 and the entry of the cutting to Burette House 1/4.
The front face of this structure partially bulldozed and the one entry was collapsed. This entry and interior of the embanked
area showed that it had been for a Narrow Gauge bogie railway spur. The rectangular gritless asphalt floor of the House
survives inside a concrete wall-plate for a framed structure clad in asbestos cement. The platform for loading and unloading
the bogies is also identifiable.
- Guncotton Expense Magazine 1/2. : Located between Unit 1 NG Hill's Wash Water Settlement Hill D1 and the presumed site of
Burette 1/6, beside the long Narrow Gauge cutting leading to Burette 1/5. The Expense Magazine is intact but heavily overgrown
and almost inaccessible. A careful search identified similar features to the GEM 1/1, including a Narrow Gauge bogie spur
entering through a corner of the rectangle. The area was almost the same as that within a typical Burette House, but an
exact measurement was impossible because of the overgrowth.
Interpretation of the Guncotton Expense Magazines :
Neither of these two structures was initially identified because of their similarity to Burette Houses. The lack of
concrete bases for tanks and motors and the fact that neither had the concrete trough tank at its end, forced the
writer to reconsider the evidence. :-
Guncotton Expense Magazines were therefore the most likely explanation given location and other circumstances.
- Guncotton storage had yet to be found near the Burette Houses and the Short Single Chamber buildings were too
- Guncotton was transported by Narrow Gauge bogie railway from the Guncotton Unloading Station and to the Burette Houses,
so the new structures had to be considered.
- Embanked structures were used onsite for storage or processing of possibly unstable explosive materials.
- Guncotton Expense Magazines should be reasonably close to the Burette Houses and might be in some proportion with them,
at a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3.
- There would be no need for heating and so no pipe supports were to be expected for steam lines.
Conclusion and Summary of Processes :
Bags of Guncotton from the Guncotton Unloading Station at the Goods Yard were brought on bogies (possibly on a daily basis) into the
embankment and unloaded into the Guncotton Expense Magazine. Some of the bags were probably removed every shift to those
adjacent Burette Houses required for the current batch of cordite paste. This would account for the size of the Expense
Houses, excess Guncotton possibly being stored in one or more of the Short Single Chamber buildings.
Further investigation may be possible with air photography and during winter after leaf-fall.