Explosives Factory Buildings

for Nobel, Westquarter Explosives Works, Redding.

During the First World War priority for construction work was given to sites that aided the war effort, which included more economical forms of food production.  These were not just economical in terms of the reduced wastage but also in the manpower required to run them.

The production of detonators was obviously vital for waging war and the output had to be considerably increased.  In 1879 the factory for producing fulminate of mercury had been built at Reddingmuirhead.  It remained the only building on that side of the canal until 1896 when 2 acres were developed between then and 1912.  At the beginning of 1914 the whole factory covered 19 acres and employed 450 people.  By the end of the First World War it had grown to occupy 45 acres and employed an average of 800.  J G Callendar was involved with this expansion work, designing and supervising the construction of the network of huts that spread further south up the hillside from the Union Canal.  JG Callendar would have been 32 years old at the beginning of the war and this work probably prevented him from being called up.

Illus : The Ordnance Survey Map of 1897, surveyed 1896 (National Library of Scotland). The fulminate of mercury factory is the building at the bottom of the map.

G.B. Bailey, 2021