4,000 tons of bombs created the Hanbury Crater

#1
I remember mention of this event in another thread about big bangs, and holes in the ground. (Maybe someone could cross-link that thread to this, and visa versa ?).

I don’t think anyone else has mentioned it this morning. I have checked the Historical thread, the “arty farty” media thread, Sappers thread (as they used to have the AT), and RLC thread (now AT, and incorporate what was RAOC), and can’t find any mention.

For those who like making holes in the ground, and making things go bang, this should be of interest . . .

Available (for now) on the BBC iPlayer

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00nwvx2


BBC Radio4 FM Schedule for Saturday 21 November 2009 said:
06:07–06:30
Open Country
The Hanbury Crater
Available to listen

“Open Country’s” programme, Helen Mark and “Time Team's” Mick Aston investigate the story of the Hanbury Crater, near Burton on Trent, in Staffordshire. 4,000 tons of bombs stored 90 feet down. The biggest explosion in the UK, 65 years ago this week.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/programmes/schedules/fm
 
#3
jagman said:
Is this Fauld?
Where the RAF bomb store went up
Yep! it is an RAF bomb store that went up.

And, yes (listening to it again whilst typing this), she has just mentioned the "Fauld mine, owned by British Gypsum".

Well worth a listen.

Edited to add: Includes sensitive interview with a couple from the area that remember the incident. Also the information that the explosion blew up a damn (the factory was steam driven), the resulting flood drowning the factory workers - some of whom were previously Italian POW. Plus, a whole working farm that disappeared from the landscape. And, they reckon there are still (unexploded) bombs there!
 
#4
RCT(V) said:
jagman said:
Is this Fauld?
Where the RAF bomb store went up
Yep! it is an RAF bomb store that went up.

And, yes (listening to it again whilst typing this), she has just mentioned the "Fauld mine, owned by British Gypsum".

Well worth a listen.
Ahhh
The Fauld explosion is the biggest manmade non-nuclear explosion ever I believe.
The Crater is huge and there is a lot of history on the net.
British Gypsum still operate a mine there but next door to the bit that was once the bomb store.
The RAF had a bit of a problem with their underground bombstores, the LLanberis one in North Wales also collapsed with diastorous results, I believe Harpur Hill had to be closed due to serious construction faults.
 
#7
auscam said:
Hopefully related topic-am I correct in thinking that some of the WW1 mine craters can still be seen?
correct
 
M

Mr_Logic

Guest
#9
auscam said:
Hopefully related topic-am I correct in thinking that some of the WW1 mine craters can still be seen?
Most definitely. I have been to one near Ypres that is huge today after 90 years of weather and nature trying to reclaim it. I am sure the others will be in a similar condition unless someone has taken the time to replace the thousands of tons blown out.

If you ever get the chance to visit the battlefields near Verdun you can still see whole hillsides pock-marked with arty impacts. The French and Germans had a huge bun-fight there.

Lastly, I used to walk my dog through the local woods during my last Germany tour. There were numerous WWII RAF bomb craters in there.
 
#10
auscam said:
Hopefully related topic-am I correct in thinking that some of the WW1 mine craters can still be seen?
They are lakes, IIRC. Enter "messines mines" into Google and read the various stories. Not all were detonated, one exploded decades afterwards and a couple are still out there!

Litotes
 
#11
Litotes said:
Not all were detonated, one exploded decades afterwards and a couple are still out there!

Litotes
Did they fail to detonate? Is there still thousands of pounds of concentrated explosives under farmers fields in France? I find it quite fascinating.
 

rampant

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#12
Fallschirmjager said:
Litotes said:
Not all were detonated, one exploded decades afterwards and a couple are still out there!

Litotes
Did they fail to detonate? Is there still thousands of pounds of concentrated explosives under farmers fields in France? I find it quite fascinating.
Yep, apparently one is still left, the other went up in 1955:

http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/messines.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Messines



piccie of the Lochnagar Crater
 
#13
There are still many huge caches of munitions and explosives left over from the wars. For example, few people seem to remember that there are around 1,500 tons of munitions sitting in the SS Richard Montgomery off Southend.
 
#14
Tin Foil Hat time:


The explosion crater at Fauld is about a mile East of Hanbury, Staffordshire, England, UK. Its UK OS Grid Reference is SK182277.

At this location a steep escarpment overlooks the floodplain of the meandering River Dove to the North. The escarpment comprises thick deposits of Mercian Mudstone of Triassic age. This is a resistant, impermeable rock that leads to sodden, heavy soils on the Needwood Forest plateau above. Interbedded in the mudstone are two thick but discontinuous strata of hydrous calcium sulfate ( gypsum ) that reverts to an anhydrous form called anhydrite at depth. The better quality of the gypsum is massive and translucent and has for centuries been used by the Mercians as a marble substitute in the production of interior ornaments and sepulchres, and it was the finest grade of this material that was mined at Fauld for many centuries. In 1960 Fauld provided Princess Margaret’s bridal bath.

At Fauld the mines were worked on a pillar-and-stall principle that extracted only three-quarters of the stone. Unlike coal measures, the mudstone is sufficiently competent to hold its void upon abandonment, and this fact commended the Fauld levels to use as a secret and bomb-proof repository.

The production of gypsum for builders’ plaster continued in part of Fauld Mine when the RAF commandeered the disused parts in 1937. The RAF stored a stockpile of 40000 tons of bombs in the workings throughout the Second World War.

At 1111 on 27th November 1944 the Fauld Mine exploded. The exact circumstances are of course unclear, but it is semi-officially claimed that the accident was due to the inept removal of a damaged bomb exploder returned to the arsenal from deployment. 3670 tons of HE bombs were said to have been present at the time, and 4000 tons of unexploded ordnance is alleged to remain: Needless to add, the mathematics is suspect.

It is the largest accidental blast in history, the second largest to have occurred in Europe, and the fourth largest of World War Two, exceeded only by the confessedly fission blasts above Trinity Sands, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Seismographs as far away as Casablanca variously registered the detonation as being between 4.5 and 5.7 Kilotons. Upper Castle Hayes Farm, its livestock and six human inhabitants vaporised. The Cock Inn, Hanbury was demolished at a distance of half-a-mile and buildings in Hanbury Village just beyond badly damaged by falling rock, some of which landed six miles away. The shock was felt in Birmingham and heard at London and Weston-super-Mare, which is 190 kilometers away. Chimney pots were blown off in Burton-upon-Trent, where two church steeples were cracked and one of them had to be demolished. The explosion and its mushroom cloud were seen forty miles away. The destruction of a small dam destroyed the local plaster factory killing thirty-three inside. Over a million tons of rock became airborne and gypsum dust carpeted a wide area of pasture ten centimeters deep. Individual clasts weighed up to one ton. It was possible to walk the dust noiselessly.

The resulting crater had a diameter of 250 meters and a depth of 100 meters, ( though the onsite notice claims 400 feet depth and three-quarters of a mile of length ).

The ammunition dump employed a number of British airmen and also former Italian prisoners-of-war who had volunteered to remain after the Italian armistice of 1943. About fifty of these men and women died, including six Italians. The semi-official death toll is seventy-six. Many more were of course permanently disabled.

The moving memorials at Hanbury Church include a modest stone plaque inscribed in Italian set up about 1992: Clearly a mother’s bequest to her long-dead son. At the site itself is a large block of Italian white biotite granite inscribed with the names of the known dead and given by Novara Munitions Depot on behalf of The People of Italy. It was dedicated in 1990.

It would appear that the Fauld Disaster resulted from the accidental detonation of a small atom bomb. It is similar to a slightly larger blast that occurred, also in rock tunnels, on the German island of Heligoland when it was under British Army control in 1946. Significantly, the human population had been evacuated a few days previously. The British did not admit to the possession of nuclear weapons until 1957.
From:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7382107@N04/459935896/

Mind you the pic is quite good!
 
#15
Fallschirmjager said:
Litotes said:
Not all were detonated, one exploded decades afterwards and a couple are still out there!

Litotes
Did they fail to detonate? Is there still thousands of pounds of concentrated explosives under farmers fields in France? I find it quite fascinating.
And why would that be Mr Fawkes? :twisted:

I have to agree though the whole concept of WWI mine warfare is fascinating, even if a bit gruesome. If you get the chance to visit the Canadian tunnels at Vimy Ridge it is well worth it!
 
#16
rampant said:
Fallschirmjager said:
Litotes said:
Not all were detonated, one exploded decades afterwards and a couple are still out there!

Litotes
Did they fail to detonate? Is there still thousands of pounds of concentrated explosives under farmers fields in France? I find it quite fascinating.
Yep, apparently one is still left, the other went up in 1955:

http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/messines.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Messines



piccie of the Lochnagar Crater
There was a documentary on German TV last year (I think), apparently at some stage in WWI the British Army set off a number of large mines. As no one knew just how big the bang would be, the fact that not everything blew up went unnoticed. Many years later during a storm there was this loud bang. Investigations revealed that there was even more explosives buried, all wired up and ready to go. The explosives were/are in a good state, but apparently the detonators are a bit iffy, so the Frogs thought leave well alone.
 
#18
Quote from Google Map Wiki:

The RAF Fauld explosion was a military accident which occurred at 11:11am on Monday, 27 November 1944 at the RAF Fauld underground munitions storage depot. The RAF Fauld explosion was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history and the largest to occur on UK soil. Between 3,450 and 3,930 tons (3,500 and 4,000 tonnes) of ordnance exploded — mostly comprising high explosive (HE)-filled bombs, but including a variety of other types of weapons and including 500 million rounds of rifle ammunition. The resulting subsidence crater was 120 metres (400 ft) deep and 1,200 metres (0.75 miles) across and is still clearly visible just south of the village of Fauld, to the west of Hanbury Hill in Staffordshire, England. A nearby reservoir containing 450,000 cubic metres of water was obliterated in the incident, along with a number of buildings including a complete farm. Flooding caused by destruction of the reservoir added to the damage directly caused by the explosion.
 
#19
Fallschirmjager said:
Litotes said:
Not all were detonated, one exploded decades afterwards and a couple are still out there!

Litotes
Did they fail to detonate? Is there still thousands of pounds of concentrated explosives under farmers fields in France? I find it quite fascinating.
You ought to look at:
http://www.durandgroup.org.uk/
They're still defusing WW1 mines every couple of months. I work with one of the lunatics.....
 
#20
I think you'll find that Heligoland was blitzed on purpose - and it was a very big bang. There's a very impressive film of it on the net somewhere. Certainly not a 'covert' nuke.............. :roll:
 

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