The Gunpowder Mills
Described by Historic England as 'the most important site for the history of explosives in Europe' this remarkable and beautiful landscape is nowadays a visitor attraction, telling the stories of explosives, propellants and finally rocket motors and fuels from the Civil War to the Cold War.
The Royal Gunpowder Mills is designated a Scheduled Monument, the highest protection that can be given to a historic site. It's landscape is shaped by 300 years of making explosives and propellants, sealed off from the outside world and featuring a large number of listed buildings, waterways, dry canals and an alder tree plantation which supplied the wood to make the charcoal, one of the three ingredients of gunpowder. The alder plantation is now part of a nature reserve, which is a site of special scientific interest and attracts a diverse range of animals and plants, which all form part of our national heritage.
Its architecture is unique and great care was taken in the design of its buildings showing pride in its importance as a world leader in innovation and quality. It is an anchor point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage. A large part of the site is now derelict and has become a home to important wildlife.
Our visit will start at 2:00pm. We will take a guided Land Train Tour (tractor trailer ride) to the 'out of bounds' part of the site. This can take a maximum of 20 people so, if necessary, we will divide into two groups for tours at 2:30pm and 4:00pm. Tea and coffee will be served to all after the first land train tour.
We will see the remains of many of the buildings used in the production of explosives including the Grand Nitrator (where nitro-glycerine was manufactured), Newton's Pool used for the testing of underwater explosives including the explosives used in the Dambusters' "bouncing bomb" and the very pretty Victorian Press House with waterwheel and press where one of the most dangerous processes on site took place.
We will have the opportunity to explore the rest of the buildings and exhibits in our own time.
At 5:30pm the Social part of the evening will commence with a welcome drink of wine or fruit juice. This will be followed by a two course buffet meal, followed by tea or coffee. During the meal there will be the opportunity to purchase further drinks by the glass. The evening will conclude with a raffle and the ever popular quiz.
The price for the whole afternoon and evening, including the visit to the Gunpowder Mills, land train ride, refreshments and evening meal is £33 per person. Alternatively, the visit to the Gunpowder Mills including the tea or coffee but without the dinner and drinks is £15.
About the Essex Regional Group
The SPAB Essex Regional Group was formed in 2000 and has been active ever since. The types of visits are fun, interesting and educational with an annual social event, normally in an historic building. Our participants vary from interested SPAB members wanting to enhance their knowledge of historic buildings to professionals using the visits as part of their continuing professional development programme.
Booking Terms & Conditions
Accessibility: please contact the Group Organiser before booking to discuss any special access requirements.