Brief History of Gunpowder

The purpose of this page is to give a general introduction to the history of gunpowder making in Britain.

Because of the risk of explosion most sites were in remote locations and used water power to drive the equipment. Buildings were well spaced out, often in a long line and many were surrounded with blast banks. As charcoal was a main ingredient many of the sites were wooded to provide raw materials.

Gunpowder was produced in Britain, in significant quantities, from the 16th centuary until the late 1980's. While the obvious user was the military most of the production sites served the mining and quarrying industries. The Government produced the powder required for the military at its own works from the 1760's. Civilian production was very small after the use of gunpowder was banned in mines in 1931.

The Production Process

The stages of making were :-

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