DERA QinetiQ Bincleaves, Weymouth

The Defence, Evaluation & Research Agency (DERA) site in Weymouth has been subject of several failed planning attempts since it’s closure towards the end of the last decade and as a result the area has gradually become more derelict. There are signs of continued use in a couple of buildings in the QinetiQ site but these are fenced off & during a two-day explore we saw no one.

The 300ft corridor running the length of the workshops at QinetiQ Bincleaves
The 300ft corridor running the length of the workshops at QinetiQ Bincleaves

Once inside, we headed for the Mechanical Science sector where some nice details still exist, including a 5ft dummy torpedo. We then moved across the road in to the main factories & workshops. Over 300ft in length the workshops take up most of the QinetiQ site. At one end, a tank for minesweeping technology & research and at the other end, an enormous sorting & recycling machine. In between, several workstations & offices branch off the sides of the long corridor. In one section, hundreds of building blueprints, torpedo schematics & general paperwork litter the floor – most of which I’m sure would have been top secret at some point, or may well still be!

DERA is an agency of the Ministry of Defence, incorporating the bulk of the  non-nuclear research, technology, test and evaluation establishments. It is one of Europe’s largest research organisations with a turnover of approximately £1 billion and about 12,000 staff (info. circa 1999).

The "FuzeFish" torpedo on display outside the test cells in DERA Bincleaves.
The “FuzeFish” torpedo on display outside the test cells in DERA Bincleaves.

Our next stop was back across the road in to the boiler house and canteen. The employees at QinetiQ were a lucky lot, according to the menu a full English breakfast only cost them £1.79 back in 2005!

With one building left to explore it was looking like we’d been defeated and all viable entrances to the test cells were locked. Until an open door, which at first looked like an electrical cupboard, led us through a small, dark corridor and emerged inside. In the centre of a test cell was a rig where I assume a torpedo would have sat and been monitored and put through it’s paces before being ferried to the torpedo firing point on the harbour breakwater wall.

Exiting the test cells we noticed that opposite on the breakwater, behind a second fence, that there was actually part of this site which was still live. Torpedo Pier (as it’s named on charts) has been in continued use since the closure of the main QinetiQ area. I have since been in contact with the site operator who has confirmed that the breakwater and buildings on & around Torpedo Pier is indeed a live site, monitored by 24 hour CCTV, and shouldn’t be explored.

At that point we made our way out of the site with the sun setting in the distance behind the QinetiQ site, it was a perfect end to a brilliant, local explore and one I can’t believe I took so long to see!

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Important, noteworthy & interesting comments are highlighted below

  1. Miles says:

    Hi all,

    I hope this finds you well. Does anyone know who is responsible for this site?

    Kind regards,


  2. Chris Emblen says:

    The best days of my working life were spent there.

    It was home to some very smart people and a lot of characters too.

    Swimming in the summer off the distant range, dolphins leaping out the water on Xmas Eve at the short range. Car being pushed along the breakwater by the Squeakies when my battery was flat… oh and world leading science and engineering.

    Some amazing stories & memories. Thanks for the journey.

    1. Simon says:

      Did you know Graham Clark?

      He was my stepdad. Well basically my dad. RIP. He worked there for many years 🙏🏼

  3. Ken Isaac says:

    Hi. I was an apprentice with AUWE in 1958 and as part of my apprenticeship I served 6 months in the sheet metal shop.

    At that time the place was absolutely buzzing, when I had completed my apprenticeship I returned to Bincleaves to work as an engineer to a scientific officer working on ASDIC. Good times, very sad to see its demise.

  4. Kyle says:

    I believe this belongs to the MOD (Ministry of Defence) now. I have been here once but I didn’t go in. When I got there I noticed a silver 4×4 near with yellow lights on the top. It had yellow and white high visibility markings on the side and SECURITY written on the side of it. There was two men inside and they seemed to be watching the grounds. I’m unsure why they where there. They left after about 5mins but I didn’t go in just in case there was CCTV or that the place was under surveillance by someone. If you going to visit here just be careful and don’t get caught.

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      The site is in a limbo state at the moment since the sale of land to a property developer. Part of the site (the breakwater) was in use by Atlas Elektronik, a company that supplies the MOD. There was live-in security on site, however since all the land-side buildings have been demolished I suspect it’s back to patrols like you’ve described.

  5. Josh says:

    Do not visit this site! Beware… armed police were seen dealing with trespassers last night. They were there within minutes…

  6. Josh says:

    I went there today and had an amazing explore there was no one at the whole site the place was dead.

    1. Bill says:

      Is that true? No security or anything? Other sources point to there being stuff going on etc in at least part of the site.

      If you can tell me how you got in (only looked on Google Maps and it seems hard to access), seems to be cars parked there occasionally. thanks

    2. kieron marsh says:

      Hello guy, I would like to go to this place but I can’t find a postcode on it would you guy help me please thanks.

    3. Robert Murray says:

      Hello Josh, I love to explore sites such as these but are more fun with others. Please contact me. Thankyou.

  7. Aiden says:

    Hey, visited this place today but we’re told to leave by a man who appears to be living on site. Interesting place though.

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      Yeah, there’s live-in security. Parts of the site are still very much live and working, and the CCTV is actually monitored too so if there’s any movement on site they’re notified within minutes.

      1. Jon says:

        Would you be able to provide details on how to get in without being noticed? Or is it just a case of trying to dodge the cameras?
        Thank you

  8. Sam Griffiths says:

    Fascinating to see the drawing with Whiteheads on. Whiteheads Torpedoes were based at Ferry Bridge, and were purchased by Wellworthy Engineering who remained there until late 90’s. They used to test the torpedos from the end of a long pier. When Wellworthy took over, diesel engines were manufactured instead, using the same machines. Part of the AE group.

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      My Grandfather worked at Whiteheads for a short period. Sadly I never knew him. I remember seeing the factory derelict for so many years as a child, a shame I never got to explore it, I’m sure some of the local Wyke Regis kids had great fun in there, it was massive!

  9. ian says:

    If you want to find out more then there are historical information publications from Derek Woodland. Did wonder what any developers would find when they dug out the torpedo construction holes ;-) Apparently up where the winding gear is/was at C-head there was an experimental petroleum warfare installation!

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      Didn’t really see anything that could have been an “experimental petroleum warfare installation” – although there was a building with a lot of pipes and gauges etc. which seemed a bit out of place on the middle of the arm?…

  10. ian says:

    Love it. The shed on top of the Vernon building was the base for the RPS when royalty worked at the naval base. They left an old westminster(?) rx/tx. Also C-head holds the rusting remains of wartime torpedo protection nets winding gear, as do the other heads on the breakwater. Don’t the mussel farmers still operate from there?

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      Aaaah! They’re torpedo nets! I’ve spent ages looking at the winding gear on C Head and also the Breakwater Fort and came to the conclusion they were some sort of wire that just went across the opening to stop vessels entering! Of course they’re for torpedo nets! Thank you!

      They were plenty of fishing buoys out there, but closer to the next section of breakwater with the torpedo firing range on it.

  11. Martin Penny says:

    Some of the best days of my working life were spent here. A fantastic site with some real old school employees . Such a shame it was closed.

  12. Matt says:

    Great pictures – I used to work on that site… Bring back a lot of memories and in answer to the earlier commenter.. when it was an active site we all took security very seriously indeed.

  13. Philip Morris says:

    Fantastic photos and the info just illustrates how stupid the U.K. Government is regarding security.

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