what happened to all the

I think it was all used - but just not for the sexy high profile projects mentioned in the publicity.

Even the poor quality cast iron that constituted a lot of those thousands of fences and railings had plenty of applications when simply smelted and recast - e.g. the airfields project (IIRC the biggest construction project in British history, and one of the biggest in the world) alone required thousands of drain covers, pipes, conduits, etc. Then you had - countless ship fittings, machine tool platforms, civil construction supplies, some railway structures and parts, etc and so on.
I recall seeing something that said a lot of the aluminium in particular was of such poor quality it was decided to dispose of it, rather than refine it to a usable standard.
 
Most of the aluminium wasn't good enough to be made into aircraft grade alloys so it went on mess tins and water bottles and the like. As for the cast iron, I read somewhere that the railings were only suitable for grenade casings and not good enough to make shell bodies. Too much slag left in from less technological days.
 

Seadog

ADC
When I was a kid growing up south of London in the 70s. There was a scrap meatal place that must of had an MOD contract to melt down all sorts of stuff .
The kids used to have a right old time of nicking anything they could from bazookas to bayonets and swapping them. I remember one day passing the head masters office and seeing a couple of Sten guns on his desk that some kids mum found under his bed . I had some parts of a Bren gun but have know idea what happened to them ..
Mister T Walt.
 
There are plenty of stories of Yanks just digging holes and burying shoite all over the Airfields when they left after the war. How many times have we heard of UXB's on new estates being built on disused Airfield's, just bury and forget.
West Fort Hood in Texas is the airfield for the aviation units that flew the OV-10's and a Corps MI unit, and the main ammo bunkerage. In 84 while extending the runways they uncovered several M48 AVLB tank chassis that simply were driven into a large enough hole and covered over when JFK was POTUS.
 
It's occurred to me that one of the reasons such volumes of stuff is destroyed, dumped or scrapped is to protect the economy.

If you flood the market with war surplus lorries and spares (for example). What will that do to the companies who make lorries? Everyone and their grandmother is driving around in three tonners picked up for a song and the spares to keep them running forever. It kind of stuffs up industrial demand for years.

Not really what you need when the country is trying to gear up to peace time recovery. There are also a lot of people being demobbed who expect to walk back into civvy jobs.
My Dad told me of waiting on the docks in Germany to get on a troopship and watching German POW's running steamrollers and bulldozers over thousands of brand new GI Bulova wristwatches and then scooping them off the dock into the water

Apparently the US War Dept would not send the watches home for surplus as it would ruin the watch industry Stateside

Would not allow them to be purchased in Europe for same reasons

Would not give them to returning G.I.'s as the watches were US government property

He said the German POW's all seemed to have forearms covered in new watches but he and his unit could trade Germans for them
 

Unremarkable

Old-Salt
Look at the pictures of the Battle of the Bogside from August 1969. Dozens of the rioters are wearing Grandad's gas mask brought down from the attic when the RUC started firing CS gas. I know we still had a gas mask in our house as late as the 1980s.

ETA: Iconic photo, the boy's gas mask is dated Oct 1941, not quite government approved recycling.

View attachment 444399
I used one, complete with anti misting wipe, in the mid 1980s while treating a mouldy damp wall with bleach. Worked as intended.
 

Unremarkable

Old-Salt
Sell-offs can also upgrade the economy. After the first war, agriculture and transport benefited from the number of motor vehicles available. My Dad worked for a drapers shop who ran an ex RN Model T van. Although repainted he said you could still see the RN when you looked down the side. He was bought his first driving license in 1922.
After WWI, the RFC's stock of runabouts was transferred to the Police. Hence 'Flying Squad'.
 
Geez, as an amateur radio nerd, I'm getting flashbacks when I'd be listening to the old timers at my radio club telling me how they bought and used WW2 salvaged radios on the cheap.
 
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Iirc thete is asbestos in the filters in the ww2 ones
We had asbestos insulated duct work in the old Expando Vans we used from the 70s through the 90s... There were still quite a few in inventory 10 years ago with "Warning Asbestos" spray painted on the ends of the ducts with covers screwed on over the vents.
 
Geez, as an amateur radio nerd, I'm getting flashbacks when I'd be listening to the old timers at my radio club telling me how they bought and used WW2 salvaged radios on the cheap.
Wow, now we are talking. I started out with a 46 set, bloody useless as no coils or crystals and no battery. The 46 Set was sealed for beach landings and was being sold off for 10 shillings each.

Bought an 88 set for the same price. Just as useless for the same reasons.

Then a 19 set, complete with the power unit. That worked fine, I found I could talk to other illegal users around the UK.

Then an R107 - bloody big boat anchor. good radio though.

Then the old man came back from an overseas posting and asked why I had all this old junk. He went onto Marchington Camp and came back with a new R210 and an R209. Probably cost him a beer. I never got one to work, cant remember which, but I had great fun with them.
9839E514-EF70-4B51-81FC-80340E28DE5B.jpeg
1C5070A2-82D0-4B67-89AF-B5D23C569956.jpeg
 

old_fat_and_hairy

LE
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
There was somewhat of an upside to the war surplus stuff; in the 1950s and early 60s I recall seeing Vosper-Thorneycroft MTB and Rescue boats up for sale for very little money. For something like £150 or maybe more one could buy a 50 ft beast with working engines and all sort of kit on board. ( sadly the guns had been removed)
 
Flying clubs could buy Tiger Moths for a few quid with a full tank of fuel. People with airline ideas could buy Dakotas and then had to convert them to civvy standard,just in time for the Berlin Airlift.
 

ches

LE
There was somewhat of an upside to the war surplus stuff; in the 1950s and early 60s I recall seeing Vosper-Thorneycroft MTB and Rescue boats up for sale for very little money. For something like £150 or maybe more one could buy a 50 ft beast with working engines and all sort of kit on board. ( sadly the guns had been removed)
Yep, i think there was a privately owned MTB on the Solent, moored near the yacht club overlooking the IoW ferry terminal if i recall. Last saw it late 00s when I was last in the neck of the woods.
 
There are tech intelligence sheds at Kineton that hold various munitions for investigation. Foreign ammunition is brought back to the U.K. en masse.

Things do get left in sheds, but that’s often down to poor depot management. I’m not going to complain about that though as I always enjoyed sorting places out.
Reminds me of an ESH in Marlborough depot that isn't on the system. 138 rings a bell

One of the full screw Authorised Reps had to accompany the CAO and a civvie very late one evening to collect something from it. He unlocked it, they went inside and 'something' was then loaded in the CAO's car. Nothing more was said.

It was always fun to not deny rumours from the civvie staff that it was the entrance to the secret underground Nuclear weapon store.
 
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hotel_california

LE
Book Reviewer
Yep, i think there was a privately owned MTB on the Solent, moored near the yacht club overlooking the IoW ferry terminal if i recall. Last saw it late 00s when I was last in the neck of the woods.
It can be seen regularly in Haslar Marina, Portsmouth.
 

ches

LE
It can be seen regularly in Haslar Marina, Portsmouth.
Nice to know its still knocking about. I dunno why we've never kept something similar going as a constant for messing about within the 12 miles limit. I know we've got the new OPVs but it seems like they may end up getting used in seas further afield (pardon the pun). A modern version of the MTB keeping an eye on the fishing, maritime patrolling, keeping the peasants away when they try & toy dinghy it from Calais seems like a cost effective way of having some nice fast shiny kit with a fair bit of oompph in horse & fire power.
 
I don't see why stuff couldn't be re purposed to civilian use without putting the manufacturers out of business, they could buy the stuff off the gov cheaper than its costs to manufacture it themselves, refurbish it and sell it on, all entails jobs, work for factories and profit ?
 

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