Collection: Les Hayward Collection of Photographs of the Royal Naval Cordite Factory, Holton Heath, Dorset

1915 - 1987
Royal Naval Cordite Factory, Wareham Road, Wareham St. Martin, Holton Heath, Dorset
Collection containing Photographic material
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A collection of 102 photographs, copied from material held by Les Hayward, showing the Royal Naval Cordite Factory, Holton Heath, Dorset. Most of the photographs were copied from the archives of the Admiralty Research Establishment (A.R.E.) and date from circa 1915 - 1945. Three photographs taken by Les Hayward date from circa 1987. The Royal Naval Cordite Factory at Holton Heath was established during the First World War to manufacture Cordite, a military propellant first developed in the UK during the late 19th century as an alternative to gunpowder. After the Second World War part of the site became an Admiralty Research Establishment before closing in 1997. It is now scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

The collection includes coverage of the factory buildings (exteriors and interiors), as well as the machinery and manufacturing processes involved. Various ancillary buildings and structures such as wash rooms, hospital, mess room, reservoirs and tramways are represented. Other prints show fire practice sessions, damage caused by explosives and the demolition of the First World War acetone factory in 1934. Some of the images appear in ‘A Pictorial Record of the Royal Naval Cordite Factory, Holton Heath’ by M R Bowditch and L Hayward (1996).

Archival History

Received Via : Purchased from Les Hayward, 1994 Provenance : Copied from prints held by Les Hayward, a local historian. Acquired through Wayne Cocroft and Paul Everson, RCHME Survey. The photographs are mostly from the archives of the Admiralty Research Establishment (ARE) and date from the first half of the 20th century. They are believed to be out of copyright (formerly Crown).

Three images in the collection were taken in 1987. Les Hayward retains copyright for these.


This Collection is divided into 1 Child Series
This Collection contains the following materials:
Photograph (Print): 102


Source: Historic England Archive

People & Organisations

Donor: Hayward, Leslie


20th Century Cordite Factory