The Royal Ordnance Factory
Bridgend South Wales
 
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About the Author

I was born two years before the outbreak of the Second World War at Douglas House in Dinas Rhondda on the 19 th of September 1937 I was the first child of two devoted working class parents.

The war was to have a profound effect on my upbringing; as like many other youngsters at the time my father would be away from home for five years fighting in the armed services.

Before my father joined the Royal Air Force he had worked on the Bridgend Royal Ordnance Factory during the construction phase. I do not know what his work entailed at this time but do remember the Arsenal being mentioned by him.

As I grew up the war influenced my interests in engineering, and after completing my tertiary education I served two years national service in the Royal Air Force as a Radar Technician.

Following my national service I entered industry, and for a time became interested in politics, a keen interest in trade unions elevated me to the position of branch secretary and the rigours of industrial trade union life.

Marriage to a devoted wife and a change of job were to change all that, and being blessed with three intelligent children further stimulated my interests in current affairs and history.

In 1971 I moved to Bridgend and was aware of its wartime past, but living on the West side of the town I had no contact with Brackla or Waterton. During this period I worked at the steel works in Port Talbot as a computer systems analyst, and spent a fair amount of my spare time helping my wife bring up our three children.

The economic situation in the UK in the early seventies caused me to think about emigrating, eventually we emigrated to South Africa in 1975 where I worked first as a project manager then as production engineering manager for a company producing military radio equipment for the South African defence force.

In 1987 my family and I returned to the UK and after a short period of living in the North East of England I found employment with AB Microelectronics in the Rhondda, in March 1988 we returned to live in Bridgend on the Brackla housing estate.

Living on top of what was the old storage tunnels of the Bridgend Royal Ordnance Factory stimulated my interest in the site, and frequent walks with the family dog on the Waterton and Brackla Industrial Estates I uncovered a few relics of the past.

Naturally, I found these interesting and wanted to find out more about the massive complex that was once here, the more I looked the less I found so I decided to undertake my own personal research.

At the age of 65 I am still employed and work as a senior development engineer for Biotrace Limited, the leading Welsh bio-tech company, so this research has been conducted on a part time basis as a hobby.

Finally, I hope that this brief history on the Bridgend Royal Ordnance Factory will create an understanding of the importance of Bridgend in the successful prosecution of the Second World War between 1939 and 1945.

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Joseph David Venn Ludlow
Brackla
Bridgend
May 2002

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