RAF Chilmark, Underground Ammunition Bunker, Wiltshire
This place was definitely a nice surprise. The underground was in really good condition (with exception to the offices as you enter the complex) with a lot of nice features.
Chilmark was a small limestone quarry worked to provide stone for Salisbury Cathedral. The quarry closed in 1935 when demand for limestone fell due to the increased use of concrete for building purposes. The quarry and surrounding land were bought by the Air Ministry in 1936.
In contrast to the other RAF ammunition depots, Chilmark was stable. The limestone was of good quality, so fewer pillars were needed to support the roof, and the floor was level. The entrances were in poor condition, but these were strengthened with a concrete lining which gave the tunnels the appearance of the London tube!
The first consignment of war stores arrived in May 1937. Chilmark’s claim to fame is the fact that it was the only RAF ammunition depot to survive the war.
In the early years of the war Chilmark took over a number of remote satellite depots including two of the War Office underground sites at Corsham (Eastlays Quarry and Ridge Quarry) and also developed immense surface storage sites in woodland at Dinton and Grovelley Wood.
We almost gave up trying to find this place after walking around much of the topside buildings and storage bunkers in the morning – interesting nonetheless they didn’t yield as much history and original features as we expected. The storage bunkers that were accessible were mostly being used to store wood.
However…in this game you can’t give up, and our prize was soon staring at us in the face…
Report by Adam Montague