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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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Nitroglycerine Section
The Puddled Ponds

Key Points :-

  • Nicholson reference to 'Puddled Ponds' as final treatment for Wash Water.
  • M/S Dumfries (ICI Drungans) had a 'Save All' pond for a similar settlement purpose.
  • Unit 1 : Some wet areas near Unit 1 Wash Water Settlement Houses, encircled by Narrow Gauge bogie railway traverses.
  • Unit 2 : Possible 'lost pond' northwest of demolished House D.
  • Cordite-contaminated clay disposed of at Burning Station.
  • Wartime photography indicates that the areas surrounded by the railway traverses may be the solution.

Puddled Ponds at M/S Factory Dalbeattie...

Gordon Nicholson's remarkable account of the Continuous Nitration process completes the wash water disposal by discharge onto a chute or flume into a pond lined with puddled clay, the lining being cleared out and disposed of by burning with sawdust at intervals. The problem remains that the location of the chute and pond have not been established, either at Unit 1 or at Unit 2, but that there are some possible candidates.

Gordon Nicholson's Article - References to the Chute and Puddled Pond :

From the third tank the wash waters flow on to a stainless steel cataract and thence pass through an underground drain pipe to an outside wooden chute and into a puddled pond.

Nitroglycerine settling out in the outside wooden chutes is drawn off every day and washed... in a soda barrel in the Wash Water Settling House.

The pond is emptied periodically and the nitroglycerine contaminated clay is dug out, mixed with [twice its weight of] sawdust and sent to the Burning Station.

Possible Puddled Pond Locations :

Unit 1 Puddled Ponds :
To the south of the Unit 1 Houses D1 and D2 there are a number of fairly boggy areas< surrounded by the now-collapsing remains of Narrow Gauge bogie railway embankments (traverses). Going by the wartime air photographs, these were in fact the puddled pond to which Nicholson refers.

The writer did consider the possibility that the Wash Water was pumped uphill from a holding pond to a rather strange pair of rectangular ponds located between the Nitration Hills and the southernmost Unit 1 Burette Houses. These ponds may be no more than an Emergency Water Supply to deal with fires, but they are in clay soil and could have been used for the Wash Water disposal function. At the moment they are excellent wildlife ponds, with Willow and Flag Iris growing in and about them.

Unit 2 Puddled Ponds :
Taking the demolished House D1 as a starting point, a traverse or causeway that led from the northeast side of House D1 round to the north and towards the Burette Houses, ssems to mark the near edge of the Puddled Pond area. Matthew Taylor, the farm owner, has no knowledge of any ponds on that site. An exactly similar feature was observed on aerial photographs at the long-demolished House D2.

Between House D2 and the mysterious Hill X there is a brick built pit with access to the ground drainage system. It is too big to be an inspection chamber, but it might have some connection to the puddled pond. However, it has to be said that this is unprovable.

Conclusions :

Although the Ponds were important, their locations and scale have been ambiguous, even with careful study of the aerial photographs taken at the time. Unit 2 has offered some enclosed locations, but those at Unit 1 may need excavation and forensic analysis to be completely certain. It is suggested that the ponds were in the areas surrounded by the traverses of the bogie railways into the Houses D (Wash Water Settlement).


© 2006 Richard Edkins, Dalbeattie Internet.