|In 1937, 450,000 square feet of disused gypsum workings next to Peter Ford's plaster works were purchased by the Air Ministry for weapons storage during the Second World War. The RAF venture into underground storage was one of disaster and tragedy. |
The depot at Fauld became the site of the largest explosion in the UK, when 3,670 tons of bombs stored underground exploded en masse. Two explosions occurred where bombs were stocked in bunkers covering 180,000 sq ft of concreted corridors. The passages were 12' high x 20' wide and had space for trucks. Inside the atmosphere was 'clear air' at 55 F.
After the explosion there was a mushroom cloud, about 50 yards wide and upwards out of sight. Mounds of earth weighing up to a ton in weight fell to the ground. Afterwards a fine dust up to 4 inches thick fell, and it was possible to walk without making any noise. A crater, half a mile across and 100 feet deep was left behind.
Firefighters from Burton, Stafford and Lichfield attended. At the depot, both R.A.F. personnel and Italian prisoners of war were employed. Both airmen and Italians were killed in the blast.
The entire mine was not destroyed, but the hills housing the mine completely disappeared. Virtually every house in Hanbury Village was severely damaged – the Cock Inn lost half of its roof and Upper Hayes Farm completely vanished. In Tutbury, chimney pots and roofs were shattered and two church steeples in Burton were cracked – one had to be taken down. The blast was heard as far south as Daventry, 19 miles south of Coventry and at Weston Super Mare. Seismographs recorded the shock waves at Casablanca.
4,000 tons of Bombs blew up, only three larger blasts were recorded during the War - those at Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the New Mexico Tests. The crater is 90ft deep and covers 12 Acres. A local reservoir containing 6 million gallons of water completely disappeared.