The Royal Ordnance Factory
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Appendix 13 Bridgend Urban District Council Minutes 1936 - 1944

Bridgend Urban District Council & the ROF

Visit to the Glamorgan Records Office 2 July 2003

UD/8/C/1/3 Minute book 3 ---- 21 March 1936 till the 20 April 1937

Minute 172 (12)

Council approved of the construction of the Bridgend Royal Ordnance Factory and informed the “War Office” of their desire to co-operate in every possible way.

Minute 285 (10)

Report on the conference held between the Parliamentary Committee and Local Authorities at the County Hall Cardiff on the 11 th of January 1937 for the establishment of Air Raid precautions.

Minute 292 (v)

The minutes dealt with the closure of public rights of way crossing the Bridgend Royal Ordnance Factory boundaries at a conference held on the 8 th of April 1937.

UD/BR/C/1/24 Minute book ---- 21 April 1937 till the 30 March 1938

Minute 393 (4) (ii)

The minute deals with the limitations on the use of limestone in the construction of ROF buildings.

Minute 409 (13)

Also deals with the use of limestone in the construction process, and the local pressures brought to bear on its use by a local quarry company.

Minute 458 (2) Minute 479 (xxi) Minute 545 (4)

Munitions works application to BUDC for the supply of electricity.

Minute 467 (22) Dated 29 October 1937

This minute deals with the employment of labour used in the construction phase of the Bridgend Royal Ordnance Factory, a letter of protest was sent to the government, local MP, and Sir Robert McAlpine Limited about the laying off of local labour in preference to the non-local employed persons.

Minute 479 (xxi) Dated 23 November 1937

The minute deals with the charges for the supply of electricity to one of the main contractors Sir Robert McAlpine from the commencement of construction to completion at a rate of 7/ 8d per unit of electricity subject to a loading below 25KVA a 5% discount would be allowed.

Minute 512 (17)

Fire Brigade Air Raid Precautions

Minute 545 (4) Dated 23 February 1938

Delivery of electricity to the Bridgend ROF commenced 23 rd January 1938, also to H.M. Ministry of Works.

This contains the application for the supply of electricity for running the works and for consideration for back feeding electrical power when the ROF loading drops.

UD/BR/C/1/25 Minute book 4 ---- 21 April 1938 till the 28 March 1939

General

There are numerous entries in the minutes dealing with Air Raids:

Air Raid Warnings

Air Raid Warning Signals

Anti Aircraft Search Light Unit

Anti Gas Certificates

Auxiliary Fire Service

Badges for Volunteers

Blackouts – Organisation Of

Bomb Proof Shelters

Minutes 733 (6) 734 (8) Dated 22 November 1938

Home Office circular dated 27 th September 1938 drawing the attention of local authorities to the provisions within the government’s Air Raid Warning scheme.

The council tested its first Air Raid Warning on 31 st October 1938.

Minutes 821 (2) 822 Dated 28 March 1939

Bridgend Air Raid Precautions Scheme – dealt with:

Rescue Parties

Decontamination Services

Decontamination of Clothing

Distribution of civilian respirators

Minute 825 (9) Dated 28 March 1939

Deals with the setting up of a Bridgend AA and Search-Light unit.

Minute 825 (9) Dated 28 March 1939

This minute dealt with volunteers.

Minute 707 (5) Dated 25 October 1938

Air Raid warning signals were inaudible in many parts of the town on the day of the test. The council’s engineers were instructed to make the necessary adjustments.

Minute 707 (7) Dated 25 October 1938

This meeting dealt with the distribution of respirators. The County were asked and agreed in granting the council 16,000 respirators (Gas Masks – Author)

Minute 707 (8) Dated 25 October 1938

This minute dealt with Street Lighting during wartime conditions.

UD/BR/C/1/26 Minute book 5 ---- 18 April 1939 till the 27 March 1940

Again throughout this minute book there are many entries dealing with Air Raid Precautions.

Minutes 5 (11) (a); 34 (24); 190 (25) Not Dated

River Pollution – No details in minutes

Minute 13 (4) Dated 13 March 1939

This minute deals with sewer extensions. His Majesties Office of Works declined the council’s request to be allowed to connect to the ROF sewer.

Minute 91 (7) Dated 22 August 1939

The minute documents a request from the Bridgend ROF to provide 23 houses for employee’s at 12s – 6d per week.

The council declined the offer of 12s – 6d because of the high construction cost of houses and rates.

Minute 187 (12) Dated 27/2/1940

The minutes deal with the renewal of an explosive licence to one of the main site contractors Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd.

Minute dated 22 April 1939

Authors Note: In the run up to war the council dealt with many issues not related to the impending conflict. In this minute the council dealt with the forthcoming National Eisteddfod of Wales – Proclamation dated 21 st June 1939just two months before the outbreak of war.

Minutes 19 (2); 38 (6); 65 (33); 72 (3) Dated 1939

Minutes dealt with Blackout Test, Precautions and Provisions.

Minute 38 (6) dealt with a Blackout test for the town from 11.30pm on the 15 th of June 1939 until 1.30am on the 16 th of June 1939.

Minute 72 (3) dealt with the payment of 10/- (ten shillings) for the loan of a lorry used during the Blackout tests.

UD/BR/C/1/27 Minute book 6 ---- 16 April 1940 till the 10 April 1941

There are many minutes dealing with Air Raid Precautions, Fire Fighting, and War related subjects in this minute book.

These are not detailed here as they are not directly related to the Bridgend ROF.

UD/BR/C/1/28 Minute book 7 ---- 15 April 1940 till the 16 April 1942

Minute 142 (10)

This minute deals with the visit by the King and Queen. The Royal visit was on the 11 December 1941.

UD/BR/C/1/29 Minute book 8 ---- 23 April 1942 till the 15 April 1943

Dated 14 January 1943

Under the section of the minutes dealing with sewers is a reference to the connection of the Island Farm Hostel. (Later to become the site of the Island Farm POW Camp).

The council would not permit connection and cited a caveat listed under section 28 of the Public Health Act as their reason.

UD/BR/C/1/30 Minute book 9 ---- 22 April 1943 till the 13 April 1944

A number of the minutes in this book deal with post war planning.

Minutes 19 (24) Dated 20 May 1943 and 33 (11) on 10 June 1943 and 47 (16) 1 July 1943

This minute deals with pollution in the river Ogmore. Coal slurry and raw sewerage was reported by Anglers.

At a conference convened on the 20 Jan 1944 the recommendations were accepted in their entirety.

------//------

Authors Notes.

 

These minutes are only a snapshot of the many thousands of entries within the “eight minute” books viewed on the 2 July 2003.

Not all of the minutes contained in this document directly relate to the Bridgend Royal Ordnance Factory, but they have been included to give an understanding of the way that the Bridgend Urban District Council dealt with this large Ordnance factory in their midst.

What is apparent, from these minutes is that the council adapted well to the demands of War. Pre-war, the council administered a locality of circa 10, 000 people of all ages - this was to swell to 16, 000 permanent inhabitants between 1936 and 1946, with a daily influx of an extra 40, 000 ROF workers each day when the ROF was at its peak in 1942.

Although there was some communication between the council and the ROF the latter did not involve the council unless they had a reason to or wanted to.

No mention is made in the council meetings about the waste water disposal problems that the ROF were experiencing at the time. It is therefore conjecture that one wonders if the council really knew about the problems and kept it quiet, or were they simply kept in the dark by the ROF and the relevant government departments.

Another observation, is that planning for a future conflict with Germany was being addressed by the council in 1936 (often directed by central and county government) when the policy of appeasement was being played out on the international stage.

J.D.V. Ludlow

Bridgend

2 July 2003

 

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