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Hi JBQS1933, welcome to the forum.

The shells were made at the National Projectile Factory owned by Cammell Laird in Nottingham - later known as the ROF. It was considered too dangerous to fill the shells in the city and the Chilwell site was chosen as the National Shell Filling Factory. The site was chosen as it was semi rural, near a railway and had rising land to the north to deflect any blast upwards.

I believe due to the male population being needed in Belgium the site was staffed by ladies and your Grandfather was probably a foreman over the ladies. Shell checking is most likely to involved quality checking (weight etc) before shipping.

There are plenty of books about the site.

Any chance of posting the photo on the forum?

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We were late with the train as well!

I never worked at Chilwell but did have two very different connections, as the first pic. shows 'work' was involved with a load of tanks for Ashchurch-Pembroke! The 'headboard' indicates to the signal

I used to live on the High Road in Chilwell , just across the road from the Charlton Arms pub. When I first moved in there, that was in 1960, before all the houses around Redland Crescent were built,

The crater is still visible HERE.

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Back to Chilwell, there are 3 local publications, probably available in Beeston Library.

Never Let Anyone Draw the Blinds the autobiography of Lottie Martin. Edited by Julie O'Neill. The author describes in interesting detail, the first 20 years of her life in Beeston from her birth there in 1899. Includes vivid descriptions of everyday life as a child and as a worker at Bayley's Tannery in Lenton and the Chilwell Shell Filling factory - including an account of the 1918 explosion. Published by Paula Hill, 1985 (ISBN 0 9510405 0 2). 48 pages in a card cover.

The Spicer Life - a Trip Down Memory Lane by Leslie F Spicer. Born in Beeston in 1904, the author describes his early life, local characters, Boys Brigade, work at Chilwell Shell Filling Factory, football and athletics, the home-front in the 2nd World War and much more. Published by Beeston & District Local History Society, 1997. 52 pages in a card cover.

Canary Girls of Chilwell by Maureen Rushton. The story of the women who worked at The National Shell Filling Factory at Chilwell during the First World War. Includes eye-witness accounts of the 1918 explosion - heard and felt over a wide area, killing 134, Published by Beeston & District Local History Society, 2008 (ISBN 978 0 9541485 1 5) 96 pages in a glossy cover.

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My office is on the land that used to be part of the depot. It doesnt seem that long ago since the place was all the barracks and land, but now its houses and offices/factory units.

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An interesting picture, King George V visiting Chilwell during WW1, I'm assuming that this was before the explosion, presumably some of the anti-royalists would have liked it to have happened when he was there.

kgvchill.jpg

If you sniff around on Google, there are some interesting snippets of information, theres an extract from Hansard outlining a challenge to Churchill in Parliament when Chilwell was being used as a recovery depot for equipment following WW1, obviously the locals were concerned about another explosion from unused, and possibly unstable ammunition.

My personal memories of Chilwell are quite interesting. As kids, we used to cycle to the bridge over the railway line and see what was in.

chilwelldept.jpg

In the 60's you used to get a lot of desert camo army vehicles that had come back for repair from the conflicts in Aden. Later on, there would be damaged vehicles from Northern Ireland.

I recall the railway sidings at Attenborough and the tracks running in to the depot from there, we would go down to the crossing on the lane to Barton Ferry and watch the trains loaded with vehicles shuffling about.

I can't find any pictures of this, but have found a picture of a train bound for Chilwell in the sidings at Midland waiting to go, no doubt the Landrover visible just below the dome of the Council House came from NI, this was taken in 1977.

25206_1977_03_Nottingham.jpg

In 1965 or 66, Chilwell had an open day, I don't recall whether this was an annual thing or a one off, maybe someone else went to it. They were running a shuttle train consisting of two WD green painted ex BR non corridor coaches hauled by a diesel shunter, between two temporary platforms, all around were bands, and military vehicles on display.

I recall that my friend, Fanny Hill and I wandered off from the crowd and found ourselves in a repair shed. Inside were some amazing goodies, tanks and armoured cars. I found a pair of wire clippers in an armoured car that I still have and use to this day.

We managed to get inside a Centurion tank, via the turret and I got into the drivers compartment, at which point I tried to work out how to start it up. The next minute we were pounced on by a security bloke, unlike the usual jobsworths who hated kids in those days, he was a really nice bloke and very sympathetic. It seemed that by mistake the Centurian hadn't been demobilised and had I pressed the right button it could have gone through the wall and taken out the crowd, frig, anyway, no harm done and we were sent on our way, by a very nice chap, who was he I wonder.

I assume that in this day and age of paranoia I might have end ed up in Guantanmo Bay, mmm always fancied going to Cuba, any chance of reopening the files.

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I "think" the open days at Chilwell were annual and vaguely remember requesting to go, but was never taken. Possibly due to dad's reluctance to relive his wartime experiences. I do remember the bridge over the railway, and the entrance on the curve in the road - opposite the entrance (or almost) for a number of years was a car dealer that sold Corvettes!

When was the depot closed? I find it sad to drive that way now - all developed and hardly recognisable as a place I rode my bike to as a kid!

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I otograph of a groupresearching my family and I have come across a group photograph entitled ''SHELL CHECKING STAFF B SHIFT N.S.F.F. CHELWELL SEPT 1916''.

My grandfather is in that photograph and I wonder if there is anyone who knows what a shell checkerf actually did. Perhaps there is someone else whose ancestor worked there during the WW1.

JBQS1933

Hi JBQS1933, I have also been researching my family history and recently found that my paternal grandfather (Albert Edward Blackler)was blown to pieces in the 1918 explosion. I don't have a photo of him but would like to see a copy of your photo. Terry Blackler (tcblackler@aol.com)

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Growing up in Chilwell we used to go to the Depot open days every year...playing on all the tanks and inside them....used to get shown the House my dad was in every year too as we walked past it. The Depot is still open altho its tiny now compared to what it used to be.....still has the armed guards at the main gate on Depot Corner.

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  • 10 months later...

Eh Mick - sounds as though you might work at the Depot - do I know you?

My father in law Frank Piggott worked there for many years from after the war untill his retirement mid seventies forman lorry driver.

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My Late Dad worked at Chilwell Depot as a civilian driver during the latter part of WW2. He was unfit for military service, so learned to drive at the depot and worked as a driver for them. From there he worked as a bread delivery driver for Prices bakery and Co-op bakery, milk man for the Co-op and then went driving trucks for many years.

Parazone of Colwick being one company and Gurney's of Carlton being another one, ending up driving for Bartons Transport of Chilwell!!

Mr (Fred?) Price, the baker, delivered to us in COD Chilwell in the 50s. He was also the choirmaster at Attenborough and recruited me to be a boy treble.

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I remember going to Long-eaton from Beeston,with C.O.D to the right,passing under a bridge with, CUT THE CALLUP painted in big black letters.

It was there for years and never did get cleaned off.

Didn't C.O.D send stuff to the Ruddington dispersal depot,and then auctioned off to the general public?.

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My father was posted to COD Chilwell twice that I remember (and once before I was born). We lived in Northfield Crescent the first time and Northfield Road the second. The Officers' quarters were in two patches - the Northfield ones were built in the 1950s. Field Crescent was built before WWII and was referred to as Snobs' Alley as most of the houses were much larger.

I went to school in Chilwell - down the hill by bus (3d each way).

My father used to fish in the outdoor water tanks which were there to fight fires.

Gregory's Rose Gardens were very close and plants bought at any time of the year would take because the soil (heavy clay) was the same in our gardens.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't like the look of those shells overhead Firbeck!

When I was about 14/15 a friend and I used to cycle down to the Chilwell depot for a run out. Loved playing with the half dozen Sherman tanks lying in a field. I should have really searched them thoroughly to try and find hidden binoculars!

A couple of years later in 1957 I had to go there for some signing on bits to join the army. Mad!

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  • 3 years later...

I served my time as an apprentice there from 1964 to 1969 finished up on maintenance in the main workshops .two guys in that first year had one 'o' level .One year later the intake of apprentices had 90plus 'o'levels between them.

I can remember it well from the old engine test house to the new one, the metal electroplating unit ,down by the main road,the tank testing ground going underneath the Bailey bridge.

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I applied for an apprenticeship position on motor vehicles about 1961, as a 16 year old I had to face an interview panel of 4/6 people, some uniformed which I found quite daunting.

Anyway, after enquiring if I would get experience in artillery I was refused the position as apparently I wasn't of the right 'calibre'

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One of my cousins married the 10th Viscount Chetwynd whose grandfather (8th Viscount) designed, built and was MD at Chilwell. He's the man standing next to King George V in one of the earlier pics.

Does that give me a connection? Well sort of.

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