The Royal Ordnance Factory
Bridgend South Wales
 
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Decisions Decisions

Various scenarios were undoubtedly considered, but it was painfully obvious that a military weak Britain could do nothing to stop Hitler’s territorial expansion plans.

Britain had to re-arm and it had to do it as quickly as possible, the task was enormous as the country was slowly coming out of recession following the years of depression in the early thirties; so the timing could not have been much worse.

All forms of arms would be needed in the coming conflict, such as planes, ships, fighting vehicles and ordnance of every type and description; all were in short supply.

The then Ministry of Defence lobbied hard for the funds to re-stock the military, this in turn led to the need for more arms suppliers and arms production facilities. With capacity well below the 1914/18 war level there was a lot to be done, and all in a short space of time.

All manner of problems were encountered, these covered everything from land requisition, to conscription, plus quietly putting the nation on a rearmament footing. There could have been no greater task facing any government than preparing for a war that almost certainly lay ahead.

Early in 1935 Mr Duff Cooper the then Minister of State for War stated in a parliamentary answer to the MP for Woolwich. “That it was the Governments intention to relocate large portions of the Woolwich, and Waltham Abbey Royal Ordnance Factories, to Chorley in Lancashire, and to Bridgend in South Wales”.

At cabinet meeting number 28 held on the 31st of July 1935 the decision to relocate the Woolwich and Waltham Abbey Arsenals to Chorley in Lancashire, Bridgend in South Wales, and Bishopton was agreed. It was acknowledged that the Woolwich and Waltham Abbey ROF’s were not ideally suited for expansion as they were located in built up areas with limited available land for expansion. The buildings were old and were mainly of wood construction. Also both Arsenals were within easy striking distance from the continent, and other munitions factories surrounded them so relocation was the only option. This was finally approved at cabinet meeting number 38 on the 28th of April 1936.

Earlier reports in the 22nd and 29th of May 1935 issues of the Glamorgan Gazette speculated that relocation was under consideration. (Reference 2 and Reference 3).

Plans were put in place to procure the additional facilities necessary to produce and supply the munitions needed to re-equip the British Army, Navy, and Air Force.

The government planned for the purchase of 900 acres of land at the Waterton and Brackla sites, and acquired Waterton Court Farm totalling 121 acres from Mr. D.W. Griffiths (a well-respected citizen who could be counted on to support the venture), plus 45 other landowners. (Appendix 8)

On the 8th of April 1936 900 acres of land were compulsory purchased in the Bridgend, Coity, and Coychurch parishes.

In a letter to the Treasury on the 16 th of April 1936 Sir Reginald Paterson of the Army Council at “The War Office” referred to the sanction for authority to proceed with the compulsory purchase of another 147 acres of land at Waterton, and Brackla Hill Bridgend. He stated that an additional purchase of another 147 acres was necessary to secure site boundaries and to settle boundaries in split farming land, this increased the land procurement cost by another £20,000.00 to an approved total of £100,000.00.

This was eventually sanctioned by the War Department on the 4th of December 1936, after they had obtained the necessary compulsory purchase order certificate signed by the then Lord Lieutenant of Glamorgan.

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