Georgetown Filling Factory
Georgetown Filling Factory was constructed in 1915 on 250 acres of agricultural land at Fulwood near Bishopton, by Robert McAlpine for the Ministry of Munitions on a "cost plus 1%" basis, and was the fourth and last National Filling Factory (NFF) commissioned by then Minister of Munitions Lloyd George. The factory was officially called the Scottish Filling Factory (SFF), but was semi-officially renamed Georgetown in honour of Lloyd George when he became prime minister in December 1916.
The Georgetown site would later form the southern part of ROF Bishopton, an explosives factory built for the Ministry of Supply during World War II.
Georgetown was initially built as one factory to assemble 40,000 items of Quick Firing (QF) ammunition, and 200,000 lbs of Breech Loading (BL) cartridges per week. The layout included rooms for the filling and assembly of fuzes, gaines and primers, and for the assembly of cartridges and ammunition; magazines for TNT, cordite, black powder, and finished ammunition; stores, workshops, offices, shifting houses, canteens, a boiler house, staff and guard accommodation, and a railway station. Most of the these facilities were linked by a covered way, which allowed the workers to make their way into the factory without being exposed to the elements. Construction of this factory was estimated to have cost £160,000.
By February 1916, there were problems getting enough of the expensive TNT explosive, so Lloyd George authorised the SFF to use amatol, an 80/20 mix of ammonium nitrate and TNT. The first Georgetown factory had not been built to conduct this type of filling, so a second factory had to be built. Construction of the No 2 factory started in March 1916, to the west of the first, and was designed to fill 160,000 18-pounder, 15,000 60-pounder, 50,000 4.5-inch, and 15,000 6-inch HE shells per week, along with 285,000 fuzes and gaines required for these shells. Construction of the second factory brought the total factory area to 540 acres within a 5-mile perimeter fence, and the total cost up to almost £1.5 million.
The enlarged factory employed up to 10,000 workers and now had two railway stations and its own branch line. Most of the workers commuted to and from work using the factory's own trains, which would also deliver the empty shell cases to be filled, and collect the filled and completed munitions. As the factory only filled and assembled the finished shells, and was not involved in the manufacture of their contents, the explosive filling materials also had to be delivered along this line.
The factory had a lively social life, and even had its own magazine, the Georgetown Gazette. This featured photographs of as many workers as possible, included sketches of the the filling operations within the the factory, and covered the visit of a young Winston Churchill to Georgetown.
The factory closed in 1919, and was quickly decommissioned, but the layout and organisation were carefully mapped so that lessons could be learnt should a similar factory be required in future. Although the wooden buildings and covered ways were believed to have been demolished almost immediately, a Luftwaffe aerial photograph taken during 1939 shows a number of buildings still standing on the site, including the TNT magazines, and these may have been used temporarily for ROF Bishopton.
A Google Earth map of the Georgetown factory has been created, showing the layout of the site.
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