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Author Topic: Faversham Gunpowder Works  (Read 12295 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


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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.

Explosions and Accidents at Various Faversham Gunpowder Works 28th December 1867 to 1914.

Fatal Explosion at the Faversham Powder Mills. 28th 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.

Below added 5/4/2019

The corrected names of the 11 men killed on the 28th December 1867.
Thomas Amos. Age 38.
William Austin. 28.
Thomas Back. 28.
Thomas Baldock. 27.
William Eley. 35.
Christopher Johncock. 26.
John Payne. 35.
William Sole. 48.
George Taylor. 69.
Edward Young. 42.
John Young.49.

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Inquest, Faversham, August 1867.

The inquest on the bodies of the two men killed by the explosion at the gunpowder works was held on Saturday evening last, and resulted in a verdict of "Accidental Death." The cause of the explosion is still a mystery.
     From The Wrexham Advertiser, Saturday, August 24, 1867.

Gunpowder Explosion at Faversham. 29th December 1868

We regret to have to report the occurrence of another explosion at the works of Messrs. Hall and Co, gunpowder manufacturers, which took place on Wednesday. The results are of a serious character, though happily nothing in comparison with those which attended the fatality which happened this time last year, when no less than eleven lives were sacrificed, and we are glad to state that at present, though some of the men injured are badly burnt, there is reason to hope that all of them will ultimately recover. The explosion took place at half past nine o'clock in the press-house at the Davington, or what are more commonly called the Oare Works, the situation of which is so well known that it is unnecessary to describe it.

It appears that the machinery of the works is thoroughly cleansed, or, as the workmen would say, "overhauled," periodically, and the present being a broken or holiday week was devoted to that purpose. No doubt this overhauling was general throughout the entire works, but whether such was the case of not it matters little, and we will confine our attention to the scene of the accident.

The press-house had been swept out, and the powder which exploded, therefore, was very small in quantity, and only that which was left upon the floor and in the chinks and cracks of the building into which no brush can be got. One of the injured men - Thomas Gutteridge, a millwright - was in the act of driving an iron pin or bolt from a portion of the machinery with a copper drift and a hammer of the same metal, and he states that immediately following a stroke of the hammer a flame came from the hole from which he was driving the bolt, and the explosion instantly succeeded. Nine men were engaged in the building at the time, and the whole of them were more or less burnt.

As soon as the nature of the accident had been ascertained, medical aid was sent for. The messenger, on passing through the Market Place, met Mr. Spong, surgeon, to whom he communicated the intelligence. Mr. Sherwood, Veterinary surgeon, who happened to be close at hand with is horse and trap, volunteered to drive Mr. Spong to the works, and his offer being accepted that gentleman was quickly at the scene of the explosion. He proceeded at once to a building called the "meal room". whither the injured men, all of whom were able to walk, had been conducted, and was shortly afterwards joined by Dr. Spyers and also by Dr. Gange. No time was lost in dressing the wounds of the sufferers and this having been completed, a van was procured in which the men were conveyed to their respective homes. Subjoined is a list of their names, and the nature of the injuries they sustained;-

Daniel Anderson, aged 37, residing at Oare, foreman of the press-house - burnt about the upper and lower extremities and face.
Thomas Gutteridge, aged 23, living in South-road, Faversham - badly burnt about the knees, hands, and face.
George Gutteridge, 41 years of age, South-road, brother of the above - one foot, both hands and arms, and face burnt.
William Manooch, aged 25, St John's-road - burns on the hands, right knee, and both feet.
John Ottaway, aged 27, Brents - burnt about the face, arms, hands, and legs.
William Saunders, aged 29, South-road - burnt about the face and neck, and upper and lower extremities.
Thomas Smith, aged 29, Brents - burns about the face, upper extremities, and lets below the knees.
William Allen, 26, Oare - burnt about the upper and lower extremities and face.
William Wood, 36, Luddenham - burnt about the body, upper and lower extremities, and face. This is the worst case, none of the others having sustained actual bodily injury.

With the exception of of Thomas Gutteridge, all the men are married, and several of them have families.
The damage done to the building is very slight, only a portion of the roof having been blown off, and the machinery remains intact. Dr. Spyers, in his official capacity as certifying surgeon under the new Factory Act, has visited all the sufferers, and will make his report as to their condition, as well as upon other matters connected with the explosion, to the Government, pursuant to the requirements of the Act under this he is appointed.

    From The Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald, Saturday 2nd January 1869.

Of  the nine men injured, five died in the following five days.

Daniel Anderson.
John William Attaway.
George Wernham Gutteridge.
Thomas Smith.
William Wood.

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Explosion at Faversham Powder Mills. September 1869.

A serious explosion occurred on Tuesday morning at the Faversham powder mills, by which one man has been much burnt. The town was startled at nine o'clock by a loud report; large volumes of smoke ascending in the air told part of the tale, and a messenger hurrying into the town for surgical aid added the rest. The first intimation to the inhabitants generally was a loud report, followed by a cloud of white smoke, which shot up into the air to an immense height. The explosion took place in the premises known as the Ore-works, where a great portion of the business is carried on. Two or three mills have exploded, and the buildings are utterly destroyed. The injured man's name is Bean. He is married, and has family.
     From The Monmouthshire Merlin and South Wales Advertiser, September 25, 1869.
           Another newspaper report gives the man's name as Beeney, The manager at the time was a Mr Haycraft.

Another Powder Mill Explosion. 17th June 1870.

On the 17th inst. an explosion took place at No. 1 North Works, Faversham. The premises were blown to pieces, but fortunately there was no loss of life.
     From The Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian, Saturday, June 25, 1870.

Accident at Faversham Gun-Cotton Factory. 1st January 1874.

At the Faversham manufactory of Punshon's patent controllable gun-cotton, the third accident since the works were started a rew months ago took place in the graining-house ; when the strength of this explosive was shown by the fact that five pounds of the cotton sufficed to blow down the building and to shatter the granulating machine into atoms. One man only was in the house at the time, and he sustained injuries which are, it is feared, mortal.
     From The County Observer and Monmouthshire Central Advertiser, Saturday, January 10, 1874.
         A later account states that the man, Hickford, was not so seriously hurt as first thought.

Explosion of Gun Cotton. 28th May 1874.

On Thursday afternoon an explosion of gun cotton occurred at the manufactories erected at Oare, near Faversham, by the Patent Cotton Gun-powder Company (Limited). No one was injured, but the building was destroyed. The whole damage was caused by about 3lbs. of gun cotton.
     From The Western Mail. 30th May 1874.

County Petty Sessions. October, 1876.

At the County Petty Sessions held at Faversham the Patent Cotton Gunpowder Company (Limited), whose works are situated at Oare, near Faversham, were summoned at the instance of the Treasury for infringing the Explosives Act in five different ways - viz., by permitting an excessive quantity of cotton powder to be in a drying-house; permitting an excessive quantity of detonators to be in a detonating magazine; permitting the clothes of persons employed in the factory to be of other than woollen or uninflammable material; permitting workmen to wear clothes with pockets; and permitting the "unmaking" of cartridges in a "making" shed.
There was a sixth information for repetition of the first offence.

Mr. Meade, barrister, and Major Majendie appeared for the prosecution; the defendants were represented by Major Dunlop, one of the directors. The latter pleaded guilty to all counts but the one permitting the unmaking of cartridges in a making shed, which was withdrawn. For the five offences the company was fined altogether £75, and in addition, was ordered to pay costs.

     From The County Observer and Monmouthshire Central Advertiser, Saturday, October 21 1876.

Disastrous Gale, 30th December 1876.

On Saturday, about two hours after midnight, the wind in London blew with a terrific force from the south-west and continued to blow for upwards of three hours, when it somewhat abated.
The chimney stack of the Faversham Cotton-Powder Company in the exposed marshes at Oare was blown down, killing one man and a boy, and injuring, but not seriously, a second man. The stack, which was 70 feet high, parted in the middle, and the upper portion, which fell across the busiest part of the factory, was seen to rock by the foreman, who shouted for all hands to clear out. This was promptly done, but the poor boy unfortunately ran in the wrong direction and was buried by the falling brickwork in the boiler passage; the man was caught by an iron tank, which was knocked over upon him. His name was Snelling, and he leaves a widow and a large family.

     From The Merthyr Telegraph, 5th January 1877.

Serious Explosion. July 1877.

A serious explosion Explosion has occurred at Messrs. John Hall and Son's Marsh Gunpowder Works, Faversham. It appears that the spindle of a pair of runners broke, in consequence of which the runners left the bed, causing a explosion of green charge. The building was destroyed , but no personal injury or loss of life was occasioned, as no one is allowed to be in the mill when the machinery is in motion.
     From the South Wales Daily News, Monday, July 2, 1877.

Another Explosion. 14th Feburary 1878.

An explosion has occurred at the Detonator Factory of the Cotton Powder Company whose works are situate at Oare, near Faversham. The building in which the explosion happened is called the press-house, and two persons are employed there in filling shells with fulminate of mercury. A man named Baines and a boy named Bodiker were engaged at this work when the explosion occurred, and both were severely injured, and it is expected that one of the boy's hands will have to be amputated. No reason can be assigned for the accident.
     From the South Wales Daily News, Thursday, February 14, 1878.

Shocking Death. April 1878.

Mr. W. J. Harris held an inquiry at Oare, near Faversham, as to the death of William Sodan. He was employed at the saw mills at Messrs. John Hall and Son's gunpowder works, and was engaged in cutting wood for the use of the coopers. A steam circular saw was used, and Sodan had to "feed" the saw. When the wood got too short for him to run through and steady with his hands he used an instrument which id technically known as a "pricker" , which is something like a bradawl, but very much longer. Unfortunately the saw caught the furrule of the handle, and threw the "pricker" back with immense force, and it stuck in Sodan's breast, penetrating six or seven inches. He died almost immediately from internal haemorrhage. The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death."
     From The Cardigan Observer Saturday, April 13, 1878.

Below added 17/4/2019.

Gunpowder Explosion, Faversham, February 1879.

A terrific explosion recently occurred at the gunpowder works of Messrs. John Hall and Son, Faversham, causing the loss of one life and an immense destruction of property. The building in which the explosion took place is known as the glazing-house, and is that in which the gunpowder umdergoes the process of brightening, being contained in rows of tubs revolving on spindles. At the time of the explosion the house was in nearly full working order, there being within its walls nearly fifty barrels of powder, each barrel containing about 90lb.; So that the quantity of powder which exploded was about 4500lb. The only person who was in or near the house at the time was the engine-driver, Thomas Jones, a man about 50 years of age, and, consequently, his is the life sacrificed. Whether he was in the glazing-house or not is unknown, but, judging from the time at which the explosion happened, it is supposed he might have been inside oiling the bearings. The unfortunate man leaves a widow and a large family, though most of the children are grown up. The havoc caused by the explosion is terrific, the works being a total wreck. The glazing-house itself is completely swept away, while the engine-house, the corning-house, the press-house, and experimenting-house, and the magazine, all of which are separated from the glazing-house and from each other by huge traverses of earth, are much damaged. Every other building on the works is also damaged, windows being blown in and roofs partly dislodged.

The office is completely wrecked, and the same may be said of the cartridge-shop, in which a number of girls were at work at the time of the explosion, and several of whom received slight cuts from the broken glass. The only other casualty known at present is that William Tong, one of the workmen, sustained a scalp wound from a piece of timber falling on him. To give an idea of the force of the explosion, it may be said that trees were torn up by the roots and large pieces of machinery, &c,. were afterwards found hundreds of yards from the spot. The concussion was felt for miles round, and in Faversham and the surrounding villages much damage was done to house and other property.

      From The Cardigan Observer, Saturday, March 1, 1879.

Reward. Faversham, January 1881.

After a careful investigation by the Inspector of Explosives respecting the recent explosion at Messrs. Hall and Sons' gunpowder works at Faversham, the conclusion has been arrived at that the explosion which caused a considerable loss of property, was maliciously caused by some person. The firm offer a reward of £500 for the detection of the offender.
     Form The Merthyr Telegraph, Friday, January 28, 1881.

The Explosion at Faversham. 11th December 1881,

Lieut.-Colonel Majendie has reported to the Home Office concerning the singular explosion at Messrs, John Hall and Son's gunpowder factory at the Marsh, Faversham, in December last. He states that the following was the state of things up to and proceding the time of the explosion:- All manufacturing operations suspended, the engine stopped, the boiler fires banked up, the experiment house (containing in the tub 720lb. of finished powder) locked up. Suddenly, at three a.m. on Dec. 11, or 12 hours after manufacture had ceased in the building, this state of things was disturbed by a violent explosion in the glazing-house, the 720lb. of gunpowder in the glaze-tub having gone off, with the effects already described. The watchman states that he was in the watchhouse, awake, at the time. The shock of the explosion threw him from the bunk in which he was resting. Col. Majendie adds: "An explosion occurring under such circumstances must be admitted to be of a very exceptional and remarkable character. There can be no suspicion, such as would at once suggest itself in the case of what may be called chemical explosives, like guncotton or dynamite, that the explosion was the result of the spontaneous ignition of the material. It is a perfectly well-established chemical fact, that ordinary gunpowder is not susceptible of spontannneous explosion, and the gunpowder in the glaze-tub was, as we have seen, of particularly pure good quality. All idea of spontaneous explosion of the gunpowder may, therefore, be confidently dismissed."

Colonel Majendie comes to the conclusion that the only possible explanation of the occurrence that presents itself is that the explosion was the handiwork of some malicious and evil-disposed person.

      From The Merthyr Telegraph, Friday April 15, 1881.

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A trifling explosion of greencharge is reported at Messrs. John Hall and Son's gunpowder works at Faversham. No one was hurt, and the only damage was the blowing to atoms of a shed.
     From The Wrexham Advertiser, Saturday, June 11, 1881.

Machinery Fatality. May, 1890.

A shocking accident occurred at Faversham Powder Works on Thursday, to James Whitehead, mill man, aged 43 years, who is supposed to have been oiling the machinery while in motion. He got entangled and was cut to pieces. A minute previously he was talking about an accident on the railway the previous day, which resulted that morning in the death of a bargeman named Wm. Hinge.
     From the South Wales Echo, Saturday, May 24, 1890.

A Furious fire. 1st March 1896.

A fire broke out early on Sunday morning on the premises of the Cotton Powder Works Company (Limited), in the marshes three or four miles from Faversham. The company own about 50 acres of land, which are covered by huts and other buildings used in connection with the manufacture of high explosives. The flames quickly gained a strong hold on the main block of buildings, comprising the more important machinery of the works, the electric light station, and the offices of the company. Water abounded and the exertions of the firemen were directed mainly to saving the adjoining buildings, including the manager's office, a workshop, and stores containing a large quantity of unmanufactured material. The difficulties with which the firemen had to contend were increased by the poisonous fumes given off by the carboys of acids and other solutions contained in some of the burning buildings. The firemen mastered the flames after about three hours' work, and by that time the main block of buildings, the electrical station, the boiler-house, various offices, the rooms in which the raw material for conversion into guncotton was washed and compressed, and other workshops and store-rooms in which were some tons of material, had been destroyed. The damage is roughly estimated at not less than £12,000. and the property was not insured. The cause of the outbreak cannot be definitely ascertained, but it is surmised that the mats used in the engine-house may have had upon them a small quantity of guncotton, and that this was ignited through their being placed over the boilers. The engine-driver states that while he was having some supper at about three a.m. the place was suddenly filled with flame.
     From the Evening Express, Tuesday, March 3, 1896.
          The manager at this time was a Mr G Trench.

Explosion of Powder. Faversham, October 1898.

Four women injured and a building destroyed.

The Press Asspciation Faversham correspondent telegraphs that a very serious accident occurred on Friday morning at the works of the Cotton Powder Company at Uplies Marshes, three miles from Faversham. Particulars are not yet to hand, but local doctors are in attendance. It is said that four female employes have been very dangerously, if not mortally, injured by an explosion of detonaters which they were testing.

The Press Association Faversham correspondent, telegraphing later, says :- The names of the injured women are Harriet Seager, Charlotte Rickard, and Emma Martin, all of Faversham, and a married women, named Boodle, living at Oare. They have all been removed to Faversham Cottage Hospital. The accident occurred between seven and eight o'clock, the building being blown to pieces.

     From the Evening Express, September 2, 1898.

Harriet Seager died on Wednesday from injuries received at the explosion of electric fuses at the Faversham Cotton Powder Company's works on the 2nd inst. This is the second death. She was 28 years of age.
     From the South Wales Echo, Thursday, September 29, 1898.
   The two women who died.
     Harriet Seager. Age 27.
     Emma Martin. 16.

Detonator Explosion.

Report as to causes of the Faversham tragedy
The report to the Home Secretary on the circumstances attending the explosion of electric detonator at t5he factory of the Cotton Powder Company (Limted), Uplees Marshes, Faversham, Kent, last september, by which four women were shockingly injured, two subsequently dying, was issued on Tuesday. The eyes of the deceased were destroyed, as were also those of one of the surviving women, while the other had her left hand blown away.
Major Cooper Key, who conducted the inquiry, says he is distinctly of opinion that the accident was caused by one of the workpeople treading on a detonator, the resulting explosion being conveyed by other detonators to the main supply, and thence to all the explosives on the same side of the building. Notwithstanding that all conceivable precautions had not been taken in the present case, and that, therefore, some slight measure of blame attaches to the company, yet Major Cooper Key is of opinion, even though it may sound contradictory, that ordinary care had been exercised. The magazine booths of the Thorngprove pattern, though too heavy for work with detonatore, were provided with shields for the prevention of communicated explosion. Only experienced workwomen were employed at the actual operation of testing, and less than half the number of deionators allowed by licence were in the building. Moreover (adds the major) it is easy to be wise after the event. The company were as anxious as himself to discover the cause of the accident.

     From the Evening Express, Tuesday, January 5 1899.

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Fined. February 1899.

The Cotton Powder Company, whose works are at Uplees Marshes, were, at Faversham, fined £76 for three infringements of the Explosives Act of 1875. The Government inspector discovered cordite and detonatore in great excess of what was allowed by the Act.
     From The Journal. Saturday, February 18, 1899.

Premature Explosives. June 1901.

An explosion occurred this morning at the Faversham Powder Mills of Mssrs. Curtis and Harvey. The iron building in which the accident happened was completely wrecked, and two men were injured, one of them seriously.
     From the Evening Express. Tuesday, June 16, 1901.

Man Blown to Pieces. November 1903.

An alarming esplosion of nitro-glycerine took place on Monday afternoon at the Faversham Powder Mills, situated at Uplees, about two miles outside of Faversham. The explosion was so violent that the concussion was felt for eight or nine miles round the district. In Faversham itself the houses were disturbed very considerably, and great alarm was caused by the report. It appears that the explosion occurred in the nitro-glycerine final washing house, which is isolated from the rest of the buildings, and this place was blown to atoms. The leading hand, James Head, aged thirty-nine, of Faversham, was killed and five others were injured, one of the number so seriously that he had to be removed to the Cottage Hospital. Head's body was blown to pieces. The deceased was seen to enter the shed, and almost directly afterwards the explosion occurred.
     From The Record and Advertiser. Friday, November 13, 1903.

Explosion at Faversham. 2nd February 1904.

Four men have been injured in a fire caused by a small explosion at the Faversham Gunpowder Works.
     From The Record and Advertiser. Saturday, February 6, 1904.

Another death, making the third, has occurred in connection with the Explosion which occurred at Faversham powder mills on the 2nd inst.; the latest victim being a young man named Masters, who succumbed to his injuries last night.
    From the Evening Express and Evening Mail. Monday, February 8, 1904.

Resumed Inquest: Inspector's Conjectures.

The coroner's inquiry concerning the death of Charles Pepper, George Clarke, and Bertie Masters, who died from injuries sustained in the esplosion at the Faversham gunpowder works on the 2nd inst., was concluded at Faversham on Friday.
  There was no conclusive evidence as to the cause of the explosion, but three probable theories were offered by Captain Lloyd, inspector of explosives. He said the explosion might have been caused (1) by the fall of a piece of plaster into the mixing machine; (2) by an electrical charge in connection with the belting; or (3) by the crushing of a portion of the scale with which the sides of the machine became corroded. The inspector added that he should not in future recommend the use of plaster for walls in danger buildings.
 The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death."

     From The Weekly Mail, Saturday, March 5, 1904.


Cable Street The Young'uns

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


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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.
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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.
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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. October 1817.

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.

Below added 20/4/2019

Fatal Accident at Faversham. 3rd October 1789.

Saturday evening last, about seven o'clock, the drying stove belonging to the Powder Mills at Ore, near Faversham (which contained about twenty barrels of gunpowder) blew up, with a dreadful explosion; by this accident one poor man, named Hogben, about 65 years of age, lost his life, and his mangled remains exhibited a shocking spectacle; one leg was blown off near the ankle, the other above the knee, and one arm likewise off; the head and face were perfect; his entrails blown out, and his clothes quite black, scattered about at various places. It being a moonlight night, he was seen some considerable height in the air at the time of the explosion. We do not learn that he has any friends to lament his untimely fate. Another workman who belonged to the stove, was on his return from market, and saw the shocking accident. About eight years since a similar circumstance happened near the same place, which proved fatal to three men.
     From the Oracle, Thursday, October, 1789.
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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."


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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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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. 

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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?

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Offline 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.

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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.


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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''.

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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