ROF Thorp Arch

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Coordinates: 53°54′58″N1°19′08″W / 53.916°N 1.319°W / 53.916; -1.319

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ROF Thorp Arch
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Thorp Arch station
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Walton platform
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Roman Road platform
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Ranges platform
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River platform
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ROF Thorp Arch was one of sixteen Second World War, UK government-owned Royal Ordnance Factory, which produced munitions by "filling" them. It was a medium-sized filling factory (Filling Factory No. 9). [1] [2]

Royal Ordnance Factories (ROFs) was the collective name of the UK government's munitions factories in and after World War II. Until privatisation in 1987 they were the responsibility of the Ministry of Supply and later the Ministry of Defence.

A Filling Factory was a munitions factory which specialised in filling various munitions, such as: bombs, shells, cartridges, pyrotechnics, screening smokes, etc. In the UK, in both world wars, the majority of the employees were women.

It was located on the banks of the River Wharfe, north east of the two villages of Boston Spa and Thorp Arch; and four miles south east of the town of Wetherby, West Yorkshire in England.

River Wharfe river in the United Kingdom

The River Wharfe is a river in Yorkshire, England. For much of its length it is the county boundary between West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire.

Boston Spa village in the United Kingdom

Boston Spa is a village and civil parish in the City of Leeds metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England. Situated 3 miles (5 km) south of Wetherby, Boston Spa is on the south bank of the River Wharfe which separates it from Thorp Arch. According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 4,006 rising to 4,079 in the 2011 census.

Design and production

War time

The Royal Ordnance Factory was constructed for the Ministry of Supply, with the Ministry of Works acting as agents. [1] The site was connected to the London & North Eastern Railway line, which was used in its construction and then for supplying raw materials to the factory and for transporting away filled munitions.

Ministry of Works (United Kingdom) former department of the UK government

The Ministry of Works was a department of the UK Government formed in 1940, during World War II, to organise the requisitioning of property for wartime use. After the war, the Ministry retained responsibility for Government building projects.

Construction work on Thorp Arch began on 18 May 1940 and the completion date was scheduled for the end of July 1941. [1] The site was divided into a number of separate Filling Groups which occupied different areas of the site and were devoted to filling specific type of ammunition. It produced munitions for both the Army and the Royal Air Force. It is believed to have had 619 buildings. [2]

British Army land warfare branch of the British Armed Forces of the United Kingdom

The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.

Royal Air Force Aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.

In the Second World War it produced light gun ammunition, medium gun ammunition, heavy ammunition, land mines and trench mortar ammunition for the Army; medium and large bombs for the RAF; and, 20 mm and other small arms ammunition for all three services. Some of these were produced in quantities measured in millions and hundreds of millions of items.

Land mine explosive weapon, concealed under or on the ground

A land mine is an explosive device concealed under or on the ground and designed to destroy or disable enemy targets, ranging from combatants to vehicles and tanks, as they pass over or near it. Such a device is typically detonated automatically by way of pressure when a target steps on it or drives over it, although other detonation mechanisms are also sometimes used. A land mine may cause damage by direct blast effect, by fragments that are thrown by the blast, or by both.

Mortar (weapon) Artillery weapon that launches explosive projectiles at high angles

A mortar is usually a simple, lightweight, man portable, muzzle-loaded weapon, consisting of a smooth-bore metal tube fixed to a base plate with a lightweight bipod mount and a sight. They launch explosive shells in high-arcing ballistic trajectories. Mortars are typically used as indirect fire weapons for close fire support with a variety of ammunition.

Bomb explosive weapon

A bomb is an explosive weapon that uses the exothermic reaction of an explosive material to provide an extremely sudden and violent release of energy. Detonations inflict damage principally through ground- and atmosphere-transmitted mechanical stress, the impact and penetration of pressure-driven projectiles, pressure damage, and explosion-generated effects. Bombs have been utilized since the 11th century starting in East Asia.


ROF Thorp Arch closed down twice: firstly, after the end of the Second World War; and then finally, in April 1958 four years after the end of the Korean War, as a result of planned cuts in the British Army published in the 1957 Defence White Paper.

Current use

Part of the site is now in use as the Thorp Arch Trading Estate. Other parts are used to house the Northern Reading Room, Northern Listening Service and Document Supply Centre of the British Library. Another part is a prison, originally HMP Thorp Arch, now HMP Wealstun.

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 Kohan 1952, p. 505.
  2. 1 2 Cocroft 2000, p. 215.