Events > Drakelow Tunnels
|When: October 03, 2020 from 8:30PM to October 04, 2020 2:00AM|
|Tickets Available: 20|
In mid-April 1941, the Ministry of Aircraft Production informed the Treasury of their intention to build an underground factory of 250,000 sq ft (23,000 m2) in sandstone hills at Drakelow, Wolverley, near the village of Kinver and the town of Kidderminster, for use by "one of the engine or gun factories in the Coventry or Birmingham area". The cost of the facility was estimated at £285,000. Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners were contracted to supervise the construction, which began in June 1941 with a provisional completion date of 6 July 1942.
By early July 1942 work was well behind schedule and costs had risen to £983,000. Shortly before that date, the Rover car company was selected as the user of the factory. Rover were at the time manufacturing engines for the Bristol Aeroplane Company. It was also intended to supply components to Rover's main shadow factories at Acocks Green and Solihull, to supply spare parts, and to act as a backup facility if either of the main shadow factories was damaged by enemy action.The cost to complete was estimated at a further £184,000; Rover’s requirements included acid-resistant floors and specially painted walls in production areas.
Drakelow, originally called "Drakelow Underground Dispersal Factory", was designated Rover No. 1D factory (the D referring to 'Dispersal'). The first machine tools were installed in November 1942 and full production was achieved in May 1943. The main output was parts for Mercury and Pegasus radial engines, respectively used in aircraft such as the Bristol Blenheim and Sunderland flying boat.
The underground factory consisted of a number of tunnels laid out in a grid system. The main tunnels, numbered 1 to 4, were each 18 ft (5.5 m) wide and 16 ft (4.9 m) high. These were mainly used for access and movement of materials. Smaller cross-tunnels provided the main workshop and storage space. The total area occupied by the works was 53.34 acres. The tunnels had a floor area of 284,931 sq ft (26,471.0 m2), of which 85,507 sq ft (7,943.9 m2) was not required by Rover and was used as an RAF stores area. There were also a number of surface buildings which included a boiler house, coal stores, electricity sub stations and a fire station.
The Mercury and Pegasus manufacturing ended in July 1945. Drakelow was retained for the storage of machine tools and work relating to development and manufacture of the Meteor tank engine until the mid-1950s.
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