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Author Topic: Faversham Gunpowder Works  (Read 9955 times)

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Offline conan

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works
« Reply #27 on: July 17, 2018, 23:55:36 »
Thank you for your reply herb collector.These old newspaper cuttings certainly never held back from the grisly details. I've researched several accidents in the local Bath stone mines in Wiltshire and the attendant gory details make for grim reading.
To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child......Cicero

Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works
« Reply #26 on: July 17, 2018, 19:05:12 »
Herb Collector, I'm intrigued as to why all of these reports come from Welsh newspapers.

Simple, I am using Welsh Newspapers Online. Local newspapers of the time reported on a wide range of national and international news stories.


Fatal Explosion at the Faversham Powder Mills. December 1867.

A fearful explosion occurred on Saturday morning at these powder-mills, by which 11 men were blown into the air and killed instantly, and a great quantity of valuable property destroyed.
The gunpowder works belonging to the Messrs Hall are situated about a mile from the town of Faversham, and are completely isolated from any other buildings. To this circumstance may be attributed the safety of the town, for the force of the explosion was tremendous, and had there been any habitations near a much greater sacrifice of life would have been inevitable. The force of the explosion was so great that it shook all the windows and broke some glass in the city of Canterbury, about ten miles distant. At the powder works the explosion carried everything before it. Trees of giant size were uprooted and thrown a distance of several hundred yards, and a boiler of the engine, weighting about half a ton, was found deeply imbedded in one of the fields on Ham Farm, a considerable distance off. The fields near the works are strewn with fragments of bricks, and the young trees near the scene of the explosion are cut off as with a scythe. In fact, the whole neighbourhood presents the appearance of having been visited with a terrible convulsion of nature.

The works were opened as usual on Saturday morning, and all went well till close upon 11 o'clock, when a fearful explosion occurred in what is called the 'corning house.' This was followed almost immediately by two other explosions equally severe. Measures were at once taken to ascertain the extent of the disaster, and it was soon found that there was not one left alive to tell the tale of how it originated. The three houses which were blown into fragments are large and substantially built, and stood at a distance of about 3000 feet apart. They were all thought to be completely isolated, and were protected from lightning and from the danger of one communicating fire to the others by high mounds of earth which surrounded them, and, as was supposed, isolated all three places from each other. The powder was finished in its manufacture in these houses, and it was, therefore, all the more necessary that extra precautions should be taken to insure their safety. The raw material is brought from the green powder houses to the press-house, where it is squeezes into cakes by a screw worked by steam. Thence it is conveyed in cakes to the corning-house, where it is separated and grained; and from this place it passes in all but a finished state to the glazing-house, where it is packed in bags or barrels as may be required. There was, it was admitted, a large quantity of gunpowder in a manufactured state in this part of the works on Saturday, but not more, we are informed, than Messrs. Hall are allowed to have in stock at one time. A vast number of exaggerated report's were in circulation in reference to this point on Saturday, but we believe that when the inquest on the remains of the unfortunate victims comes to be held the statement we have made above will be satisfactorily proved. Enough powder, however, was left to do incalculable damage, and the loss to the Messrs. Hall is very great without being needlessly exaggerated.

At the time the explosion occurred there were 12 men at work in the portion of the manufactory which has been destroyed. Of these 11 were blown up with the houses in which they were at work, and on Saturday night scarcely a fragment of any of their bodies had been discovered. A portion of a leg or of a trunk was found among the ruins, but this is all that now exists of the unfortunate men. The fragments of the building and timbers were cast up in the air to a height of about 200 feet, and the heavier portions of the structure were thrown to distances which might seem incredible to any but an eye-witness. The explosion occurred in the corning-house, and it was followed at intervals of about half a minute by the pressing and glazing houses. When the explosion occurred every one was for the moment paralyzes, but in a few minutes abundant help was at hand, but every soul had been blown away with the houses in which they were working. The manager, the foreman, and all available strength of the works were on the spot in few minutes, but all they could do was to look on in dumb dismay at the miserable wreck. Later in the day the huge gaps which had been made in the fences by the blowing away of the trees were boarded up, and a detachment of coastguardmen and county police posted at all available points of entrance to prevent intrusion. Many of the friends of those who were known to be working in the mills came up to learn the fate of the workmen, and many a fireside in Faversham was made dark by the fearful calamity.

The following are the names of those who were killed:- John Young, married, six of family; George Taylor, married, two of family; Edward Young, married, two of family; William Sole, married, three of family; William Austin, married, two of family; Christopher Jencock, married, no family; Thomas Baldock, married, no family; Thomas Amos, married, five of family; William Eley, married, one of family; John Payn, married, five of family; and Thomas Basck, married, three of family.
There are thus eleven widows and 29 children left to mourn the loss of their natural protectors; and what aggravates the calamity is that many of the children are very young and unable to do anything for themselves. We believe that everything was done by Messrs Hall to alleviate, as far as kind consideration could, the force of the blow to the relations of the sufferers, and it is only justice to say thus much at a time when of all others sympathy is most prized.

Besides the damage done to the works a good deal of property has been destroyed in the town of Faversham by the concussion of the atmosphere consequent on the explosion. A great number of windows were shattered, and on Ham Farm, about a quarter of a mile from the works, the farm fencing has been rent from end to end, some stacks of produce tossed about as by a whirlwind, it will cost a good deal to repair.

Two hairsbreadth escapes have come to our knowledge since writing the foregoing, that of the engineman at the works, who went out of the house a minute before the explosion to a place a short distance off, and was only stunned by the concussion. He can tell nothing of the origin of the explosion, and knows nothing having gone wrong till he was thrown upon the ground and rendered senseless. A second escape is that of a labouring man who was coming up to the corning-house with a horse and cart, and who was lifted bodily off his feet and deposited in a stream of running water a considerable distance off.

    From The Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser 3rd January 1868.


Offline conan

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works
« Reply #25 on: July 17, 2018, 00:07:34 »
Herb Collector, I'm intrigued as to why all of these reports come from Welsh newspapers. Was Faversham gunpowder used in the South Wales Pits or was this just an early example of the use of the telegraph system that could speed news around the country?.With no disrespect to the poor souls who lives were lost in the explosions I really can't see what interest that an explosion in Kent would arouse in the valleys of Wales where mining tragedies were a fairly common occurrence with often a far greater loss of life.
To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child......Cicero

Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works
« Reply #24 on: July 16, 2018, 22:41:41 »
Dreadful Explosion at the Faversham Powder Works. 1867.
Four Men Killed.

On Monday afternoon, shortly before three o'clock, an explosion of a dreadful character occurred at the gunpowder works of Messrs. Hall and Son, situate at Faversham, by which four men lost their lives, and another was very severely injured. The explosion took place in a building called the "Mixing-house," in which powder undergoes almost the last process. It is situate at the "Oare Works" and in close proximity to it is another building in which is kept the saltpetre.
At the time of the sad occurrence there were five men engaged within the building, and all but one of them were instantly killed. The report of the explosion was not very loud, but the power was such as to render the building almost in an instant a mess of ruins, and under the debris the five men were buried. As soon as the explosion occurred all hands on the works rushed to the spot to render assistance, and the first thing to which their attention was directed was that of extracting the bodies of the unfortunate men from under the black, and in some places burning ruins.

The first one discovered was that of Louis Highsted, a man between fifty and sixty years of age, who was found to be living, but frightfully charred and injured. He was immediately removed to his home at Oare, and hopes are entertained of his recovery. Next the workmen came to the bodies of two men, viz., Mark Coe and George Love, who were found under a large quantity of debris. Both of them were dead, and presented frightful spectacles, their clothes having been literally burnt from off them, and their bodies were a black, burnt, and charred mass. They were removed to a building at another part of the works. After a lapse of about half an hour another body, that of Henry Adey, and a few minutes subsequently another, that of George Back, were discovered, both corpses horribly disfigured. Mark Coe was about 35 years of age, a married man, and leaves a large family of children. He resided at the Brents, near Faversham. George Love was of about the same age, also married, and leaves a widow and two children. He resided at the parish of Luddenham. Henry Adey was a single man, about 25 years of age, and resided at Osprings. George Back was a youth of 18, living at Oare.

As soon as news of the explosion had reached this town, two medical men, Mr. W. N. Spong and Mr. Quinton (assistant to Dr. Spyers), proceeded to the scene of the disaster (the first to arrive being Mr. Spong), who rendered what service he could. Subsequently another surgeon, Mr. Garraway, also arrived. As speedily as possible three engines were brought to play upon the burning timber, one of which belonged to the works, and the other two were those of the Kent and Norwich Offices, stationed at Faversham. The bodies of the unfortunate deceased now await an inquest, which will probably be opened to-morrow.

     From The Brecon County Times, Saturday April 6, 1867.

Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works
« Reply #23 on: July 14, 2018, 22:10:50 »
Dreadful Explosion of Hale's Powder Mills, at Oare, Near Faversham, Kent, and Loss of Life. November 1838.

It is our painful duty this day to record a most melancholy event, which occurred at Oare, near Faversham, Kent. At about eleven o'clock yesterday week, an explosion took place in the corning-house of Mr. Hale's powder-mills, in that neighbourhood, by which four persons lost their lives. Their names are John Stokes, an old and faithful servant at the works, upwards of sixty years of age, thirty of which he had spent at the mills, who has left a widow and three children; John Sheepwash, a widow and seven children; and Thomas Easton, a widow and two children. These were the men who lost their lives at the works; but the most melancholy loss is that of a labouring man of the name of Thomas Hadsley, bailiff to Mr. Isaac Wildash, a farmer at Oare. This unfortunate man was sowing wheat at the time of the explosion, and was killed by a portion of the mill thrown at least 150 feet from the place where the powder ignited.

The quantity of powder which has exploded consists of ten barrels, each containing as nearly as our correspondent could ascertain, 100lbs. In the press-house and charge-house, but a short distance from the fatal spot, a large quantity of powder was deposited, but this fortunately did not ignite. Many houses in the neighbourhood are greatly injured by the explosion. A cottage, about thirty rods distant, in which a poor woman named Epps, with her family of six children, is so greatly injured by the concussion that it can scarcely be considered safe to be inhabited. All the windows, and a great portion of the tiles and brickwork were demolished. A clock in the room was forced from its position, yet no accident of the slightest degree occured to either the mother or the children, though the room in which they were was a small room not exceeding 12 feet square. As a further proof of the force with which everything was driven, a piece of timber, measuring twelve feet six inches in length, eight inches in thickness, with a cross piece tenanted, measuring three feet four inches, was thrown a distance of fifty rods.

An explosion took place at these mill's about eight years since, when one life was lost. So mutilated are the bodies that it is impossible to identify either of the poor men killed in the mills, except by the teeth of one, which is supposed to be Sheepwash. The other body has not been discovered on our correspondent leaving the place; but it is presumed that he had been thrown into the river adjoining. Orders had been given to have it dragged for the purpose of discovering the body. The other bodies lie in an out-house adjoining, awaiting the coroner's inquest.

     From The Glamorgan Monmouth and Brecon Gazette and Merthyr Guardian, 17th November 1838.

Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works
« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2018, 18:41:09 »
October 3rd 1817 - The Corning House of the gunpowder works near Faversham blew up with a dreadful explosion, and three men at work were literally blown to pieces.

Explosion of a Powder Mill.

It is our melancholy duty to record another of those fatal catastrophes that too often occur in the composition of that destructive agent, gunpowder. About 20 minutes before seven in the morning of Friday, the corning-house of the gunpowder-works, belonging to John Hall, Esq. at Ore, near Faversham, containing about 12 barrels of powder, blew up with a tremendous explosion, levelling instantly every part of the building to its foundation, and spreading the massy timbers in every direction. At the moment of the explosion there were three men employed therein, whose bodies were literally blown to pieces, and the scattered fragments of their limbs found at a considerable distances from the spot, in a state so mutilated as to defy the power of description. Their names were - Thomas Wanstall, aged 18; John Robinson, 45; and James Philpot, 24; the latter has left a wife and child to bewail his fate.

In this, as in all former instances of a like nature, no cause can be assigned for the event , other than the nature of the process in the corning-house, certainly the most dangerous in the manufactory, but in this instance it is the more remarkable, from the machinery having been put in motion by water flowing with a regular current. Had the accident happened ten or twelve minutes sooner, its consequences would have been more fatal, as Mr. Johnson, the overseer of rhe works, and five other persons, were in attendance at the building, removing ten barrels of the powder. The house and mill of Mr. Ashenden, at Ore, received a severe shock from the concussion of the explosion, and had most of the windows broken; the windows of several other houses were also partially fractured; and the effect was also extended to Faversham, (although a mile distant) where the windows of several houses were similarly injured. The sound of the explosion was heard in the direction of the wind, which was easterly, for near ten miles.

       From The Cambrian, 18th October 1817.

Offline davpott

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works
« Reply #21 on: October 01, 2015, 21:59:29 »
I couldn't find my book but I did find this on the tinternet.

"Abandoned jetty of Dans dock near Uplees in Kent, named after Sampson Dan who owned a brickworks nearby and used it for transporting bricks from, but it was later used by the Cotton Powder Company for the loading of gunpowder, cordite and TNT from the site onto ships. Not far from here on 2nd April 1916 a huge explosion occurred as munitions ignited and killed over 100 workers. The works were abandoned in 1919 with the end of WW1 and closed for good."

source http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-abandoned-jetty-of-dans-dock-near-uplees-in-kent-once-used-for-the-32084616.html

Offline davpott

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works
« Reply #20 on: September 30, 2015, 13:19:14 »
I seem to recall reading that Dan's dock was originally constructed for shipping bricks from a nearby brickworks. I'll try and find my booklet on the Harty ferry gunpowder works this evening.

Offline conan

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works
« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2015, 19:41:15 »
An aerial view of the wharf from google earth 1960

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Online mikeb

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2015, 13:44:25 »
I didn't know about Bretts S4, but yes that could be the answer to the two parallel tracks.

Having checked properly you're absolutely right S4, the DLR was to a gauge of 3ft 3ins, which is as near as dammit  1mtr. 

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works
« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2015, 12:18:26 »
The Davington line was Meter gauge, I believe. Bretts Quarries worked this are after the gunpowder works had gone, they used a narrower gauge (around the 2'/2'6" mark). Did they send gravel by sea?

S4.
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Online mikeb

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works
« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2015, 12:07:22 »
Apologies, these two were left of my post.

Online mikeb

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works
« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2015, 12:05:11 »
Yesterday (11th July) I took a walk along the "sea wall" from Harty Ferry to Conyer Creek. I thought the following photo's of the former powder works etc located on the shoreline may be of interest.
1) Dans Dock. The wooden structures appear to be the remains of a wooden dock, but they are for the most part inside, and below, a retaining concrete wall. Was this dock part of the Gun Powder Mills complex? The dock actually breaches the line of the sea wall.  Who was Dan?
2) A substantial concrete foundation the seaward side of the sea wall. Was this part of the Gas works?
3) Adjacent to this foundation,  parallel railway tracks leading down to the remains of a pier. The sleepers are concreted in, but the position of the rail fixings can be seen suggesting a gauge of 2ft. / 2ft. 6ins. ( I didn't have a stick of inches on me!). Certainly narrower than the Davington Railway of 3ft. I would have thought.
4) The remains of what would have been a substantial wharf, perhaps for exporting explosives by barge?
5) A mooring ring set in the wall opposite this wharf. I found several similar bases, but only this one ring.
6) Steps leading down to the mud from the sea wall to, what?
No doubt the whole area was kept dredged when in use and the current mud levels may well be hiding more "treasures". It surprised me how much can still be seen after being abandoned nearly 100 years ago.


amundsen1912

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2013, 02:56:54 »

''The main ingredient of gunpowder is saltpetre, which was imported from India by the Company and then either sold to the government or re-exported. There were numerous gunpowder mills in the Faversham and Dartford areas whose owners grew very rich. We know nothing about the Kent merchants who might have supplied these goods for export. However, we do have information on at least one director of the East India Company from 1758 to1774, who had a business in Kent, Frederick Pigou, a Huguenot. Pigou and his nephew Peter Andrews were in partnership with the Gruebers in the Oare gunpowder works 1768-1798. Pigou also owned gunpowder 'manufacturies' and stores in Dartford and the Erith Marshes''.
http://www.hereshistorykent.org.uk/displaytheme.cfm?pagetype=Themes&themeID=110&category=Black




Offline kyn

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2012, 17:14:19 »
16th May 1925

Explosion at Powder Factory.
Three Men Killed.

Shortly after 2 oíclock to-day, an explosion occurred in one of the press houses at the Marsh Explosive Works at Oare, near Faversham, owned by Messrs. Curtisís and Harvey, Limited.  This was immediately followed by an explosion in another press house.  Three men were at work in the first press house at the time, and all were killed instantaneously.  Two of the bodies have been recovered, but it is believed that the other man was blown to pieces.
It is at the press houses that the most dangerous work is done in the finishing off of the cordite and gun-cotton, and extreme care is always taken there by the employees.  Fortunately no one else was injured at the works.  The tops of some of the surrounding trees were blown off, and in the branches of one of them was seen a sleeve of a manís coat.  The shock of the explosion was violently felt in Sittingbourne.  Houses shook and every door and window rattled.  The noise was heard at least as far as Gillingham, 16 miles away.
Large portions of the debris, many pounds in weight, were blown over a bank of trees, some between 70ft. and 80ft. high, into an adjoining field.   The body of Clarke was blown over the trees into a mangel-wurzel field among pieces of machinery and woodwork, and was subsequently found by a ploughman, who was at work planting seeds, while Headís body was discovered in the canal which runs close to the factory.
The following statement was made at the London office of Messrs. Curtisís and Harvey:-

ďAt 2.10 pm. to-day, one of the press houses in the Marsh Works of the Faversham factory of Messrs. Curtisís and Harvey exploded, and immediately caused a second press house to explode.  Both buildings were entirely demolished.  Three of the workmen in the first press house were killed instantaneously, but no other injuries were reported.  Considerable damage was done to the other buildings by the concussion.  The names od the men who were killed were T. Stevens and J. Head, press house hands, and H. Clarke, a boatman.  The cause of the explosion is not known, and a Home Office inquiry will be held.Ē

 

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