Today is the last day of the summer break for Jellybeansgeokid (Cadence has been back for 2 days, poor girl) and with Smif247’s latest acquisition teamed with good weather, we decided that a bike ride for big kids would be a grand idea.
The agreed destination was Cliffe marshes and a geocache called Bang! This has recently become our nearest unfound geocache. Little did we know that we would be doing a round trip of almost ten miles…
…And for Smif247 and I, it was our first trip out on bicycles in more than twenty years. Anyway, I digress! There is a whole heap of history out on these marshes, some of which is why this particular geocache is called Bang!
The site of the cache is located within the grounds of an ammunitions manufacturer which closed during the 1920’s. The factory was situated within 60 acres of remote land but within easy access of the River Thames, for the transportation of explosives, including cordite and nitroglycerin.
The manufacturer, Curtiss Harvey, only made chemical explosives here while gunpowder was produced elsewhere. The site was originally for storage but at some point in its history it went over to manufacturing, at the height of the business it employed more than 2000 people, mostly women and young girls.
As I understand it the site closed soon after the First World War to an explosion, however there seems to be little information on this. I am surprised that there appears to be no association of the manufacturer with the Second World War, to me this seems like an ideal out post! If anyone knows different then please let me know.
The buildings are now derelict and nature is growing up around them. The land has been given over to livestock, who seem very happy roaming through, round and over the remains of the chambers that were once used to produce nitroglycerin.
All in all it was an enjoyable yet exhausting first trip out on our bikes. I’m fairly certain it won’t be our last, but ask me tomorrow when the muscle pain kicks in. Right now though I’m off to sit on an ice pack! I had forgotten how much a bike saddle could hurt.
My thanks goes to Drsdolittle for their research on Curtiss Harvey.