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Author Topic: Faversham Gunpowder Works - the Great Explosion of 1916  (Read 31647 times)

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Offline Trikeman

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works - the Great Explosion of 1916
« Reply #43 on: June 28, 2017, 00:03:01 »
Anyone know where the epicentre of the explosion was - there was a large crater apparently
A few aerial pics of the site attached
Trikeman
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Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works - the Great Explosion of 1916
« Reply #42 on: April 26, 2016, 23:41:12 »
A eye witness account of the explosion from the Western Mail (Perth Aus) 24 November 1938.

The Faversham Horror.

Dear "Non-Com."
(The newspaper section devoted to wartime memories. HC) - After all these years of comparative forgetfulness, an article by "Donnachaidh" brought back the full horror of an episode in which I had to play a pathetic part.

The Faversham explosion was not caused by a Taube. The anti-aircraft battery was close to the house in which I was staying, and they would have told us had it been so, and warned my brother, and, as I was his nurse, he would have told me. It was caused by paper blowing across one of the burning dumps on the outskirts of one of the three large factories, namely, Harts Factory, Explosives Loading Co., and Cotton Powder Co. These covered several miles, and close up to the buildings came the muddy channels from the marshes, a desolate enough place without the added desolation of fire and death, a fire which might easily have lost us the war.

I was acting as my brother's nurse. He was invalided out of his regiment, and was manager of the first-mentioned factory. The house stood close to the gates.

Can you imagine that Sunday, a morning of wind and sunshine, and wives and sweet little children coming to spend the day with the men? Just a spell of forgetfulness of the dangerous work, of the week, work in sheds so sensitive that rubber boots had to be worn. One dared not sneeze for fear of the result.

I was calling the children to lunch when I saw six firemen march past to the gates. They were carrying the hose. I never thought it was anything but fire drill, but they never returned.

I was placing chairs at the table when I felt the house sway. Even then I blamed myself for fatigue, and placed no significance on the fact of those blue-clad men. Then came a sound merely of breaking glass and, on going to the window, I saw the servants from the lodge coming towards our house, with their aprons over their faces, and on the whiteness the worst red in the world -  that of newly-shed blood.

Then it all happened. The sun was blocked out with smoke, the earth rocked, and the sound of screams and crying children. Someone was commanding me to give first aid in a garage. The garage was being filled with chairs, and there were patients where there had been happy visitors. My hand shock so that I could hardly extract the wicked glass splinters from out the faces of those I knew, and loved and the holders of the basins were trembling. Each moment the order came to lie flat, and each crash seemed as if it must be the last. Little did we know that there would be nine hours of it.

Then came the traffic - all kinds of vehicles crowded the narrow road, full of nurses, firemen. doctors, soldiers, ambulance men, even the sailors, and soon there was a return stream going from the gates to Faversham. My mother stayed on in the dangerous home making hot coffee for the ambulance men, and those able to take it. She refused help from me, forbidding me to enter. I went to the children. Why, of course, there were children! Little helpless ones waiting for their mammies, who, in their turn, clung to those awful white gates and waited for their men. Someone said, "Take them away." Where to? Three miles to Faversham. How could we ride when all the cars were full of dead or dying men. I took the little hands, so soft and tender, leading them away from the lawn, and the wilderness of flowers, down the sides of the road black with terrible traffic and almost knee deep in dust.

These pink blossoms with the blue eyes. We moved so slowly, and their noses were bleeding, and they couldn't understand. One small boy showed signs of destroyed tympanium. I couldn't cover his ears to stop the pain. He might never hear the rest of that awful day; he might never hear again the birds sing. How could mankind inflict such harshness on these gentle little things?

Each crash was mercifully heralded by a great cloud of smoke, and I was able to warn the children to lie flat. The journey was very slow, owing to the congested traffic moving away the screaming and groaning victims, meeting those returning to the scene.

Can you explain the mad desire to obstruct the road in order to watch a scene of such agony? There were sight-seers along the route, and on the hills. Their cars should have been commandeered to carry those burnt men, instead of placing them on the backs of hard open trucks without covers, cushions, or mattresses, while others sit and watch, making the roads cul de sacs in some parts by their utter selfishness. Hostesses were at Faversham to meet me, and my poor little flock was taken to safety and comfort to wait for "Mummy and Daddy."

I took my small son to the town hall, and kind people looked after him, but there was no rest for me. The mayor sent me to get into uniform, and to go to the temporary hospital. My knees were shaking, and I wanted to cry more than anything. I was told off to make thirty cups of Bovril at once. A terrific crash and roar from over those hateful five miles had followed me, and soot came down the chimney filling the thirty cups. I will not describe the nursing, or what one sees in a hospital after such a disaster. There are so many of you who know, and those who do not-may they never.

But the cause of that disaster was not a Taube dropping a promiscuous bomb - THAT came the night after, when all the disaster was dormant. It was the paper that blew over the burning dump.

But-and here is a but, full of the ghastly possibilities of the havoc caused by a diseased conscience and a warped mine - what were three lads doing under a seat on a lorry carrying men to the factory at five in the morning, their pockets full of matches and candles? What was done with the lads and where did they go?

What would Mr. Schroeder do with these "tiresome adventurers?" What would you have done?

BUSHFIRE, Canning Bridge.





Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works - the Great Explosion of 1916
« Reply #41 on: April 26, 2016, 22:11:43 »
Link to Lynsted Society article on the Faversham explosion of 1916.
Includes: censored newspaper reports of the time, details of six of the men killed, reports of prosecutions for carelessness at other times, newspaper reports of explosion at the works of Messers Hall and Co, December 1868. One of the four men who died from injuries in the 1868 explosion was Daniel Anderson. His grandson Henry Anderson was killed in the 1916 explosion. Official report to the War Office.
http://www.lynsted-society.co.uk/Projects/WW1/faversham_explosion/index.html

And a reminder that the powder mills were dangerous even without explosions. Alice Post: a young mother who died of TNT poisoning at Faversham Power Mills 16 January 1916.
The sad details @ http://www.lynsted-society.co.uk/Projects/WW1/post_a/index.html

Offline conan

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works - the Great Explosion of 1916
« Reply #40 on: April 04, 2016, 23:42:39 »
Some very good news regarding the memorial

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-35945274
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 - the Great Explosion of 1916
« Reply #39 on: September 30, 2015, 20:51:34 »
~snip~ Was there perhaps a government cover up to keep morale up by hushing up the fact that women had been killed??

Easily disproved.
From the link I provided 13-2-15, page 428.

"Miraculously, (12) no women had been killed or injured".

12. "Though no women were employed in the factory where the explosion occurred, many worked at the adjacent Cotton Powder Company plant, and in fact of an aggregate workforce of about 1,500 about half were women - see Syd Twist, Faversham 1900-1910, Faversham Society, 1977, (cited hereafter as Twist), 19. However, women did not work Sunday shifts (The explosion was on a Sunday, HC) at the CPC (Eileen English, Faversham 1900-1930, Faversham Society, 1981, 13-14)."

From 'The Great Explosion at Faversham, 2 April, 1916', Arthur Percival, M.B.E., B.A., F.S.A.
Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 100 1984.

Offline grandarog

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works - the Great Explosion of 1916
« Reply #38 on: September 30, 2015, 11:03:00 »
I have cribbed this photo from a long thread on Facebook. It portrays a group of woman workers from the Gunpowder works . Some people are claiming that their ancestors are pictured and were killed in the great explosion of 1916.Others claim that a lot of the women in the photo were killed in the explosion.This is causing some debate as the official figures etc show only Men and Boys killed.
Does anyone have any ideas .Was there perhaps a government cover up to keep morale up by hushing up the fact that women had been killed??

Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works - the Great Explosion of 1916
« Reply #37 on: February 13, 2015, 15:09:17 »

Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works - the Great Explosion of 1916
« Reply #36 on: December 22, 2014, 16:55:22 »
The explosion was felt as far away as Norwich and was heard in parts of northern France.

The Great Explosion at Faversham, 2 April, 1916
Arthur Percival, M.B.E., B.A., F.S.A
Archaeologia Cantiana Vol 100. 1984.
39 pages with maps. Available online @ http://www.kentarchaeology.org.uk/Research/Pub/ArchCant/Vol.100 - 1984/100-27 The Great Explosion at Faversham, 2 April 1916.pdf
A good account of the explosion and its aftermath.
Note that the photos of the effects of the explosion posted by Kyn were still embargoed in 1984.

The entire Cotton Powder Mills Works Fire Brigade were wiped out in the disaster.

  Fireman Stephen Epps, Fireman Herbert Foley, Fireman Stephen Vidgeon Sayewell (plus other names unknown)


Fireman Stephen Epps B.E.M. survived and was able to give an interview in the summer of 1966.

Offline smiler

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works - the Great Explosion of 1916
« Reply #35 on: October 23, 2012, 11:19:53 »


From "Kent a Chronicle of the Century" by Bob Ogley.

Gevets17

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works - the Great Explosion of 1916
« Reply #34 on: September 30, 2012, 00:55:58 »
My Grandmother, who was 15 at the time of the explosion, was in service at Syndale House and clearly remembered the windows being blown in by the blast.

Although they knew at once it was the gunpowder factory that had gone up it appears that some of the staff feared it was a German attack possibly a shell from the sea.

She also remembered some of the less badly injured being bought to the house to recover.

Offline ChrisExiledFromStrood

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works - the Great Explosion of 1916
« Reply #33 on: May 14, 2012, 19:54:40 »
Searching google, there was one auctioned in 1998 for £100, described as
Quote
Explosives Loading Company, silver medal for Distinguished Service, 39 mm, obverse inscribed ‘Pro Patria April 2nd 1916’ wreath of laurel around, the reverse inscribed (Presented to P. Harris by Explosives Loading Company for Distinguished Service) hallmarked Birmingham 1916, good very fine £100-150
at this site:
http://www.dnw.co.uk/medals/auctionarchive/searchcataloguearchive/itemdetail.lasso?itemid=15511


and there's a story here:
http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/Tales-horror-heroism-Great-Explosion/story-15667862-detail/story.html

which says
Quote
Numerous medals were awarded for bravery in the aftermath of the explosion

Plenty more by searching
"Explosives Loading Company" medal

mikeatmanor

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works - the Great Explosion of 1916
« Reply #32 on: May 14, 2012, 17:34:22 »
My Grandfather William John Edward Gibbs was awarded a medal on this date, by The Explosives Loading Company.
The medal reads:- Presented to WJE Gibbs by The Explosives Loading Company for Distinguished Service, the reverse reads PRO PATRIA April 2nd 1916.
The story handed down is that on that day he moved a train of amunition threatened by a fire resulting from the initial explosion, but if there was a citation with the medal it has been lost.
Information on the cause of the explosion and the acts of bravery carried out by those lost their lives is well doccumented, but there is little information about those who survived.
Has any one any more information about this disaster.

Mikeatmanor.

Blade

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works - the Great Explosion of 1916
« Reply #31 on: February 13, 2012, 16:32:21 »
Yes, I found the previous posts very interesting and informative, they have certainly filled in a lot of gaps in his story and I didn't know that there was still so much tangible evidence still left on the ground.
I am just happy that I have now been able to give him back his identity, I am not a Lane, he was my Fathers, Mothers, Father...now I have a rough idea about posting pictures I will endeavour to start a thread about my Great Great Grandfather, life in Cobham as School Master in the 1870's, I have some pictures and Diaries written by him.
Dunc.

Offline kyn

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works - the Great Explosion of 1916
« Reply #30 on: February 13, 2012, 16:17:46 »
Thank you so much for a great first post, I hope you have found the previous posts interesting!

Blade

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Re: Faversham Gunpowder Works - the Great Explosion of 1916
« Reply #29 on: February 13, 2012, 15:03:36 »
Ok, here go's, please be patient with me if things are a little wonkey to begin with as this is my first attempt at uploading a picture on this site.
My Great Grandfather was killed in the Great Explosion at Faversham and he is listed as Lane. T on the commonwealth war graves commission website, I have tried to help update their records but the chap that deals with it has some personal health problems that prevent him at present in doing this so I am trying to give my Great Grandfather back his identity.
His name was Thomas Lane, he was employed by the explosives loading company and he is buried in the mass grave at Faversham, I presume because he was unidentifiable.
I enclose here his picture and the card showing the mass grave and two newspaper reports of the time.
I hope they are of interest.




Please forgive me if they are too big...I tried to keep the size down but I think it got mucked up.

 

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