The collapse buried 14% of the total stock of RAF bombs in 1942

A gigantic WWII ammunition depot in which an accident buried 14,000 tons of bombs

The storage of ammunition and bombs is always a dangerous practice, as what happened in a British powder magazine in World War II demonstrated.

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Like I already commented a few months ago, that war led the United Kingdom to handle huge amounts of explosive material. In 1941 the Royal Air Force (RAF) had an ammunition storage capacity of 158,000 tons. One of the depots used by the RAF to store their bombs was at Llanberis in North Wales. The place chosen for the storage of this material was the old Glynrhonwy Isaf slate quarry, located in the Snowdonia region and abandoned in 1930, as indicated by the website Subterranea Britannica. The RAF intended to store 18,000 tons of bombs there.

Taking advantage of the depth of the quarry, its eastern shaft was used to build a large two-story ammunition store. The installation was protected by a reinforced concrete roof and 12 meters of broken slate, and it had three elevators to move the bombs to the different levels. To move the material, the original tunnels of the quarry were used, using narrow-gauge railways. The rush to speed up the construction of this huge powder magazine, the flawed design and the poor materials used for its construction led to disaster just six months after it opened.

As the aforementioned website points out, on January 25, 1942, two-thirds of the structure collapsed in seconds due to the weight of the slate that protected the upper part of the powder magazine. The accident had catastrophic consequences: it completely buried a train of twenty-seven wagons that was unloading material and more than 14,000 tons of bombs, an explosive material that at that time represented 14% of the total stock of the RAF.

Most of the bombs were recovered, but that accident led to no more explosive material being stored underground at Llanberis. The bomb depot remained in use until 1955, when the stock of bombs still there was removed. The magazine was closed in July 1956, but a detachment of RAF bomb disposals remained there to clean up what was left in the place. These tasks were completed in October 1975. In this arduous task they had the help of divers from the Royal Navy, since they had to check and finally drain one of the old quarry wells It had turned into a lake, and into which tons of discarded explosives had been dumped over the years. The cleanup tasks culminated after removing 85,000 tons of slate and rubble, 352 tons of explosive elements and 1,420 tons of non-explosive military material.

IKS Exploration has released a video today showing an exploration of this former ammunition depot:

Here we can see some screenshots from the video. In this image we see the outside of the bomb depot.

The warehouse has enormous and long vaulted galleries in which the explosive material was stored.

One of the three elevators that the installation had to transport the pumps between the two levels of the warehouse.

A narrow-gauge railway platform used to transport the pumps to the depot.

One of the old quarry tunnels, dug into the rock. The narrow-gauge railway entered the underground area of the deposit here. The tracks have been removed.

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