First World War: Accidental Explosions
Around 600 people were killed in accidental explosions at explosives works during the First World War. Most loss of life can be attributed to the manufacture of the high explosive TNT and its derivative amatol. In British service this was a new explosive and the principal production hazard was thought to be fire.
Factories were established in converted buildings in built-up areas. A decision that had devastating results when a TNT plant exploded at Ashton-under-Lyme, Greater Manchester, where 53 died, and later at Silvertown, east London, killing 69; in both incidents workers and local residents lost their lives.
Explosions in purpose-built factories could be equally shattering: at Faversham, Kent, in April 1916, 108 were killed, only exceeded by an explosion at Chilwell, Nottingham, where there were 134 fatalities.
Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.