RAF Chilmark, Underground Ammunition Bunker, Wiltshire

RAF Chilmark 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, RAF 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 RAF 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…

Comments

29 responses to “RAF Chilmark, Underground Ammunition Bunker, Wiltshire”

  1. Bob says:

    Went down today, fences have been repaired and four or five heavy locks and chains on the entrance to the mine. Got removed by security after a while, guy wasn’t that friendly.

  2. will long says:

    Went to visit here today. Mine’s in the hills are all still pretty accessible but the main store has 6 very new kicks and chains on it. Met another couple of guys on our wonderings but we had no luck.

  3. fluffy5518 says:

    Nipped in here today and glad to say all is still mint! Crackin’ pics by the way! The last pic of the lift, have you lit that at all or is it just natural light – either way its excellent!

    • The Urban Explorer says:

      Thanks! Yeah it’s just natural light, I think it was about a 5 minute exposure.

      • Maisie harris says:

        Anyone know the post code to this place?

        • Corky says:

          SP3 5DU Quarry Road
          Look for the narrow gauge rail track crossing the road. You’re close when you find that!

          • David says:

            Hi Corkey

            I was down RAF Chilmark yesterday and saw a lot of buildings above ground but couldn’t work out what way to go I was stood at the tram lines with the stone quarry entrance on my left, the bridge in front of me and the camp the other side of bridge, where do I go from there?

            Thanks

    • cris cold says:

      I’d love to see this place. I’ll be in Wilts 6th March. Any chance you could give me a clue how to find it please? Google Earth isn’t giving me a definitive answer.

  4. Hobbsy says:

    Been to visit this place twice with no luck of finding the mine. Spent hours walking round the topsite with no luck and getting quite annoyed after people said it’s right in front of their face what side of the road is it and a little pointer in the right direction would be amazing.

    • Corky says:

      Quarry road chilmark. Look for the narrow gauge railway track crossing the road!

      • hobbsy says:

        Yeah, found it bud. Friend of mine gave me a heads up, amazing how big the mine is and noticed we missed half the site well glad I wandered a bit further.

  5. Corky says:

    Hi. There are two mines at Chilmark. One is slightly bigger and was used as a munitions storage, the other is on the other side of the road and was only ever used as a stone mine. The latter was only closed a few years ago.

    I worked in the mine for a couple of years and the radiation is nothing to worry about. We wore special dosimeters to read the radon levels and handed them in weekly to have them analysed. Never had an issue.

    Both mines are worth a sneaky look but I would say the munitions mine is easier going and probably safer as the floor is more even.

    • The Urban Explorer says:

      Thanks for the comment Corky. I remember seeing a second opening almost directly above the mine entrance which almost looks like a cave system. Any ideas?

      • Corky says:

        Hi Urban Explorer. I’m not sure about the door you mentioned above the main door. There are a few small bell pit mines dotted about the hillside worth taking a look at so possibly might be one of those. The entrance to the stone mine that I mentioned is on the other side of the road to the munitions dump. There is a narrow gauge railway track that runs down a slight slope and straight into the mine. There were two steel doors which were easy enough to get over back then. Definitely take a couple torches if you’re tempted to take a look. It is insanely dark in there without light.

  6. I D Batten says:

    Interesting. My father and sister worked at RAF No. 11 M.U. During and after WW2
    He used to tell me about the tunnels. Being underground didn’t bother him as an ex coal miner. He started there in May 1947.

    • Tony Dwyer says:

      Back in the middle eighties I was told the story of two colleagues who had noticed the rail link into Chilmark from the train and had realised that it was not included on the OS map. Intrigued, and technically trespassing, they “explored” this on foot and ended up being arrested by the military police! The two insisted that the base was a store for nuclear weapons, although nothing I have read subsequently substantiates this but, then, that would have been the official view!

  7. luke says:

    Hi all.

    I ventured here yesterday and as stated above I spent time looking around the top side around the buildings that were left, but not too much to see a lot of damage has been done by visitors. I went to where the bunkers are on the other side of the road but they are all storage units now so nothing to see there. But what I will say if you are after reward we walked for an hour or so around the building and ventured a little more when all of a sudden there it was in front of me, the prize. I felt amazing my heart pumping and butterflies in my belly at the entrance to the mine. I only had my phone light so only made it to the first chamber. But I am going back with more and will post results later :-) recommend to all who’s interests are our history.

    • Pat says:

      Hi Luke!
      Was there any security there? Is it completely empty? Is there any interesting stuff to take photos of?
      Thanks

    • Liam says:

      I’ve been here a few times and see the buildings but can’t seem to find where the bunker is, don’t know whether you could help me?

  8. Al says:

    Hi All,

    FYI a good friend of mine worked at Chilmark a little over 3 years ago. I, like all of you was very keen to have a look at the bunkers, my pal said that exploring the site was particularly dangerous as there was residual radiation in the bunkers. My friend was in the RAF clearing the site at the time. The only time he and the team explored the bunkers they were given protective equipment.

    If it were me, I would not take the risk. Cheers

    • The Urban Explorer says:

      Hi Al,

      You’re right. The bunker does have levels of Radon in it, which is present in all air we breathe. Prolonged exposure to high levels of Radon is potentially dangerous and while I’m no expert, in my opinion, I believe a short time here isn’t a danger.

  9. Finn says:

    yo how hot was security here?

    • The Urban Explorer says:

      I didn’t see a soul, other explorers have been escorted off site within minutes – I guess it’s all down to luck and how stealthy you are!

  10. Shane says:

    Liked the pictures, I have a 9year boy who loves all things to do with the world wars, is it safe to take him down there, he has seen the photo and got very excited, many thanks mate

    • The Urban Explorer says:

      I couldn’t possibly say I’m afraid, it’s completely down to you to assess that.

  11. Wasp Grant says:

    I had a walk around the location a couple of months ago, there was activity on the site, they were using live explosives, so if you venture here, please be warned that it’s now part of the International School of Explosive Education

  12. Shell says:

    I have always been fascinated by abandoned places and you have some really interesting stuff on here!
    This one particularly interested me as my Great Grandfather was in the RAF and actually lived in Chilmark years ago.
    Fantastic photographs too :)

  13. Tom says:

    Hello could I have some more directions on how to get to this site as my great grandfather was in the raf back in the war. And I would just like to be nosey and have a good walk around thank you

    • Sorry Tom, I don’t make a habit of handing out locations. I found this site quite easily, and with a bit of research (i.e. Google) I’m sure you will too! Good luck.

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