Industrial Archaeology

The purpose of this site is to give a general introduction to the history of gunpowder making in Britain and to detail the main places where remains of gunpowder mills are open to the public.

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.

These factors have combined so the redundant mills are often in picturesque areas and offer significant wildlife habitats. The biology is often as interesting as the archaeology.

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.

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