Seems like some more tabloid tat designed to whip up a storm and create an article to sell some copies to me, and create a situation where one may not, or need not exist.
I have the council's initial survey from 2009 - yes, contrary to the tat, the council already had surveys underway and reported in 2009 - and it mentions nothing of munitions production on the site . Perhaps the mere mention of work that might be related to the war effort is equivalent to the construction and existence of a munitions factory in the mind of a tabloid writer? A little like a certain bomber 'found' in a reservoir need Greenock perhaps? Now just where has that bomber gone now? :
A study of historical Ordnance Survey maps has been undertaken to identify any significant potentially contaminative former land uses. Historical maps have indicated that the site comprised primarily open space / agricultural lands until pre 1912. Around this time the Motherwell Iron and Steel Works formed adjacent to the eastern site boundary, though the subject site itself remained featureless. By 1939 the Iron and Steel Works had been removed, and the majority of the site was rough grassland / heath, though an unlabelled rectangular feature is shown on-site, likely a platform. A small unlabeled “heap” was also present within the north eastern portion of the site. Between 1946 and 1950, the subject site became part of a larger works site. On the subject site were portions of large buildings, rail lines in a cutting, and roads. By the 1990s, the buildings in the works had been removed, though some remaining site features, such as roads, were still shown in 1999 mapping. By 2006, residential housing was present on site, reflecting the current configuration.
The subject site comprises residential properties located on three roads in Motherwell: Forum Place, Tiber Avenue, and Romulus Court. The subject site was primarily undeveloped until the 1940s, when the subject site was part of a wider site developed for use as a Metropolitan-Vickers / Sachwell Sunvic facility (referred to herein as the “Watling Street Site”), which subsequently became under the ownership of Associated Electrical Industries (AEI). Reported site use included the manufacturing of domestic control apparatus and medical equipment including X-ray / radiation therapy machines. These facilities were removed prior to 1990 and the site was redeveloped for residential use in the 1990-2000s. Remedial works carried out prior to redevelopment have we understand included the removal of near surface ash and slag made ground, which was deposited on a site immediately to the north of the subject site. A cutting with a building and possibly a lagoon feature is shown in historical aerial photography and mapping, with the cutting running east-west at a location approximately underlying present-day Forum Place. An iron and steel works was present immediately east of the subject site in the early 1900s, but was removed prior to 1939. The area of the iron and steel works became part of the wider Watling Street site as summarised above. Immediately north of the subject site, historical maps have indicated that this area was undeveloped woodland until pre 1912, when rail lines from an adjacent iron and steel works led onto the site from the east (possibly used to deposit slag/waste from the works). This area to the north of our target site was undeveloped meadow/heath from the 1930s until the site was used as a landfill in the 1990s to receive made ground removed in the remediation of the wider Watling Street site. Additional surrounding historical land use has included a substation west of the subject site, established pre-1978 and still present today. In summary the site setting is considered to be of a moderate-high sensitivity. This is primarily due to its residential property use and the proximity of surface watercourses
The site is immediately adjacent to a historical iron and steel works and within the area of a facility with historical uses including electronics / medical radiological equipment manufacture. Deposition of made ground from the Watling Street Site onto the landfill site north of the subject site was done under licence, which prohibited putrescible wastes, but there is considered to have been the potential for contaminated wastes as having being deposited at the landfill site (testing and verification suites previously carried out were constrained to a limited inorganic assessment suite). Historical remedial completion reports of the wider Watling Street site have also indicated that not all made ground was removed prior to residential redevelopment. The infilled cutting beneath Forum Place is presumed to comprise made ground of unknown origin. As such, any potential contamination in remnant made ground beneath the subject site may present a risk to current site users, and migration of contamination from the landfill site to the subject site is plausible. Ground gas risks from remnant made ground and the landfill may additionally affect the subject site. Historical ground gas monitoring on the landfill site has indicated ground gas generation occurring periodically in isolated locations. Metropolitan-Vickers historically manufactured radio-luminescent clocks and dials to aircraft to enable crucial instruments to be clearly visible in darkness and under adverse weather conditions. However, no records have been located indicating this manufacturing occurred at the Watling Street site. However, records have indicated site use by Newton Victor Limited (a subsidiary of the Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Co) for the manufacture of medical equipment including X-ray / radiation therapy machines, which may have included the use of radioactive elements such as Cesium- 137 and Colbalt-60. The use and disposal of these radioactive elements in historical manufacturing at the site requires validation. There is considered to be potential for site-derived contamination to have impacted local groundwater, and the potential for off-site migration towards the South Calder Water. Based on the information contained within this report and with due regard to its continued residential land use, it is the opinion of WSPE that the site represents a medium-high risk with respect to contaminated land liability issues. Recommendations WSPE would recommend a ground investigation to evaluate risks
The above taken from the report made available by the council - but I only have the original large file.
A search of the web site should pull it up though.
You can view the site in the Google Earth 1945 Historic Imagery, certainly has noting to suggest explosives or chemicals though can't decide what the area West of the factory was. Trying to see if covered by No. 1 Camouflage Unit.
PS Can someone give me the orientation and location of this image, not managed to locate yet. Interesting the large factory in the middle is camouflaged but it looks as if they might have painted the side to look like houses but could be coincidence.
The location is actually given just below the RCAHMS view, in the Record Details:
If you paste the lat/lon pair into the Google Maps search box, it will take you to the centre point of the view, and you should be able to get your bearing fairly quickly by using the slightly unusual elliptical layout of the two rows of flats that come together near the bottom centre of the frame.
The factory is still there today, albeit with a nice white roof now:
It's a pity they don't seem to be including the orientation data with the online historic imagery, as I am sure they have it.
I bought the first collection of British and German surveillance they published from the collection (when thoughts of them being on the internet were but mad ramblings) and these were often complete with the margin data that accompanied the original image, and which included a north indicator. Without this, it could often be difficult to align the shots, especially those which were away from identifiable features such as road layouts, as the housing layout often changes in postwar shots after open land has been developed.
In other cases, the image is sometimes published with the original film frame/surround included, and this can show the data that was imprinted when the shot was taken. I haven't checked, but I think they also scratched things like north arrows into that surround as well, after processing, which suggests those tasked with interpreting the frames sometimes had the same problem.
I can certainly remember looking at some of these aerial images from the time, and spending ages trying to match them to modern aerial views - these were published in print just before the went online - and being convinced that whoever identified the original location had a vivid imagination and was deluded, only to spot some tiny, but unique feature buried somewhere in the shot, and which did indeed confirm its location. But it could be tough finding it.
The RCAHMS should allow comments to be added to the imagery as they have done with CANMORE, perhaps even allow images to be added so you could clip out a particular feature in the image and add with a note of what it is/was.
I hardly use Earth unless I want to see the older imagery, or the better viewing interface, but it's like wandering around blind as regards info, and I nearly always wander around Maps as it automatically has the info from Google on tap.
(But the real reason is a steam computer that hasn't got a big enough boiler to run Earth along with everything else
I've seen a few stories in the past week or so - this is Watling St - the matter remains ongoing as the residents have solicitors on-board to represent them.
One is tempted to observe that the council is always a soft-touch in such cases, and is always portrayed as being in the wrong and uncaring, regardless of what it does.
One environmental journalist has many stories on the site, which if believed, describe a population of residents with constant illnesses and nose-bleeds.
Only a few weeks ago, in advance of the results of extended testing into possible contamination, a firm of solicitors issued what was described as an 'alarmist press release' - the company is acting on behalf of a number of residents. The council responded by hand-delivered letters, and challenged the release, as the test results (from deep drilling on the site) were yet to be evaluated and reported, therefore it was not possible to comment, or come to any conclusion.
Doesn't really need a link as it is ongoing, just search on watling street contamination and you'll get a raft of results - and even a number of stories relating to the factory, some with photos.
Either there's a huge and uneconomic 'Slush Fund' somewhere, or there really is no contamination worthy of note on the Watling Street site, as three reports have found nothing of consequence.
After the third round of tests and reports, the council has stated that it considers the matter closed.
Those representing the residents - and dare I say picking up a fee for continuing to do so - insist that the council is ignoring the fact that the residents are all suffering various illnesses.
Dare I say that cases like this drag on so long, with people going over and over and over and over the same old info and claims gets to the stage where they 'Talk themselves ill' - or are ill, and instead of looking for the real cause, assume the contamination story is fact, and will not get better until someone says the contamination is real and present, and they are moved.
Those representing the residents say there is stuff to be found, and they can find it.
Those for the council, which I am sure would like this to go away, cannot find anything. And they should be independent.
If they did, there would not be an ongoing investigation, with bad press, and more costs and more tome to be wasted.
I'm wondering if there is any "No win, no fee" motivation for those representing the residents now.
The Watling Street saga has taken a new turn, with a number of residents now raising legal actions against the council about contamination of the land their houses are on.
This will be interesting, since tests and reports from sources independent of the council have not found any evidence of remaining contamination...
While the residents say they can produce independent reports that say their is evidence of contamination.
Goodness knows how long this will drag through the courts for, but since I was a qualified and approved 'independent tester' whose signature on a report was fiscally valid - it would have been accepted as evidence in court - I will be particularly interested to see the outcome
It's too early to make a call on any potential outcome since this has only been announced and no substantial info revealed from either side or what may be happening in court, but I will be watching.
At the moment, if anything, I'm siding with psychological problem in the residents' heads, after they found out the history of the the site, rather like the groups that find a leukaemia cluster, then try and attribute it to the nearest nuclear power station. If you found your house was built on a poison factory, even if someone provided irrefutable evidence that the ground was 100% clean, I'm betting you would still think//believe every tummy tremor was down to some of that poison have somehow got to you. Even if you said you were 100% happy and totally believed the report. It's just the way the mind works.