RAF Fauld – The detonator stores, Staffordshire

On November 27th 1944 an explosion in an underground bomb store in the village of Fauld, Staffordshire, the likes of which the UK had ever known, killed 70 people and left a crater in the earth 400ft deep and three-quarters of a mile long. A near-by farm, along with buildings, animals & workers completely vanished in the blast. 18 bodies were never found.

Aerial photo of the Fauld disaster crater.
Aerial photo of the Fauld disaster crater. (credit: Barry Wright)

Fast forward seventy years and historians & explorers alike thought there was nothing left of the RAF Fauld bomb store. And how could there be? An explosion of that magnitude (1/4 the size of the Hiroshima bomb) would surely have meant the underground workings were inaccessible. However, a few years ago, determined explorers found an entrance – hidden in plain sight as these places usually are!

The detonator stores, RAF Fauld

A chilly December morning in 2013, we made our way to the Fauld site. The entire area is covered with warning signs, and rightly so, potentially dangerous unexploded bombs litter the surrounding countryside and crater. Our first stop would be the detonator stores, a separate section of the bomb store.

Walking through the entrance tunnel was really something else. Probably the cleanest, best preserved underground space I had been in. No graffiti on the walls, no litter. Beautiful!

Stacks of 6 inch Howitzer shells
6 inch Howitzer shells stacked 20+ deep. (Note the chap stood on top!)

After taking in the magnificent tunnel, we came to a section which had been collapsed and blocked quite purposefully. Rubble, twisted metal and bars stood in our way – all but for a small hole to squeeze through. Although it all seemed safe and wasn’t moving anywhere soon, sliding through on your belly with tonnes of crap above your head was a bit nervy!

Through the other side was well worth the squeeze. Following the narrow-gauge tracks on the floor through several branches of the stores was fascinating. Signage, intact! Lights & loudspeakers, intact! The preservation is incredible to witness here. We must have photographed the detonator stores for almost 2 hours before we headed to the main bomb store only to find the entrance had been filled to the roof with soil and debris. It must have only just happened – the heavy plant machinery still parked in front. We missed the opportunity by literally hours.

I feel very privileged to have seen (if only part of) RAF Fauld. And a massive thank you goes out the explorers who put the time in to find RAF Fauld and so generously shared information with trusted people.

NOTICE: I’ve been contacted by landowners asking that I let would-be explorers know that the police are being informed of trespassers on the site surrounding former RAF Fauld. A few cases of criminal damage & theft have been reported. There are several buildings & secure bunkers in the area and I would ask that if you find yourself trying to enter these you are in the wrong place. 

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93 responses to “RAF Fauld – The detonator stores, Staffordshire”

  1. Chappie says:

    Hi guys,

    Seen a few images of the Fauld tunnels on social media recently and brought back a few memories of when a few of us went down entrance no2 quite a number of years back. Having heard this entrance has now been covered up, I’m interested in where others have been getting in as I would love to see the other parts of the tunnels!

    Cheers, Chappie.

  2. bill goddard says:

    I was an armourer at FAULD 21MU in 1948 getting rid of old rockets and dets at times it was hair raising

  3. Appleby393 says:

    Urban Explorer just asking a question about the possible location of the entrance is it in the center of the crater or is it to the north east side of it? Obviously it’s covered over now but just an inquiry because I may have stumbled across a similar looking area in the picture.

  4. benjamin scott says:

    I think it would be awesome if someone would conduct a paranormal investigation on this area :P you never know what you may find out, I’d love to be part of this too.

  5. RoDaS says:

    We went down there, about 25 years ago, russle, buff, clingon 2 others and myself. Walked around the left hand side of firework sheds then about 20 yards beyond, the entrance was covered but they knew it was there, 6-7 yards up they’d dug down and broke through top/side of the tunnel. To proceed drop down to face a brickwall with a hole to squeeze through, once through we walked about 100 yards like in the photos, to the left several large bricked entrances with holes through, upon entering it was transferring to a different world, wet clayish walls, ceilings caved down, even a stream running through, pit props? Everywhere that you could pick up with one finger, only a few empty ammo boxes, no bombs. On trips before the lads were nicking the cables etc for scrap. Important note though make sure you tell someone outside you’re down there. P.S rumour has it that only 2/3rds of it went up. There’s supposed to be a room full of TNT, it also damaged Christ church’s spire Horninglow Road which had to be pulled down because of it. Yup…

    • Keeper very local says:

      Really the fireworks has now got security it is un-safe and how many times do I have to say you can no longer get in as there are tonnes and tonnes of soil on top at least 15ft to 16ft deep, also British Gypsum is also getting a little fed up of people thinking that the old mine entrance is on their site when it is not.

  6. Toby kavanagh says:

    Is this place still accessible, from Lichfield area so wondered if I can get in before travelling there.

  7. Penny says:

    I agree, Alan Lynn. I know there’s no chance I’d get to go to this site or most of the others I’ve seen, but I do love seeing them and hearing about the history. These things took place well before many of us were even born, and to know about them boggles the mind, at least mine! Great shots and like the ‘leave it as you found it’ part.

  8. Shane says:

    I’m from Birmingham. Anyone fancy a visit?
    rovacab@aol.com

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Shane,

      I’m in Wolverhampton and definitely want to explore this place very soon.
      A guy called Josh may be able to assist in getting in he is local it says in an earlier post. Anyone know of any other interesting places to visit? contact me: rsg-services@hotmail.co.uk

  9. Bisusz says:

    Hi guys if you could take a quick look at my post here:

    http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/raf-fauld-munitions-storage-depot.t103911

    I’d be very grateful for any pointers on the now closed entrance.

  10. Josh says:

    The entrance is rather easy to find. I live close if anyone wants to find the entrance sometime.

    • Jake says:

      Hi Josh. Any chance of a visit?

    • The Local Keeper says:

      For the six of you that turned up at 10.30 on saturday night yet again you are in the wrong place for someone that has local knowledge you’re not doing so well, the police have been informed again and they are on C.C.T.V and they have footage night security has been put on so I suggest you just stay away.

    • Keeper very local says:

      So you’re the one that is responsible for all the hassle, I suggest you stay away as this could lead to you getting into serious trouble. Night security has now been put on and police will be called the M.O.D has been notified and have visited site also the RAF are now involved too there were six guys that turned up on Saturday night at 10.30pm and were caught on cctv so if it was you the police have all your photos.

      • Derrie says:

        Where are we talking about here, we never entered any secure areas such as the fireworks depot, where were they trying to break in?

        • Keeper very local says:

          British Gypsum which is no where near the old mine, they are getting it all wrong and Gypsum have taken this very seriously.

          • Derrie says:

            Oh okay yes I understand, I have been no where near and never will go anywhere near the British Gypsum site, all I did was follow the public footpath up to the crater, I did my research before exploring the area and ruled out the new site as I know it’s still actively mining and has nothing to do with old mine/base, people should research this before going to explore, it’s in the name “abandoned RAF base” which is clearly not a currently active mine. Also clearly stating that CCTV is in operation, explorers please respect the security of the currently active mine as this is not the area you should be looking in, there is nothing there.
            Regards

    • Mark Lindsey says:

      Josh, I have been following your adventures and I have lived in the area all my life I would love to get a picture of the entrance and I had a relative who died in the crater, it would be great to get some pictures, would it be possible to get any more info from you or meet up with you because I would hate to go wondering off onto private land?

    • Michael campbell says:

      Hi Josh could you PM me about getting in the mine, we are professional underground photographers and would be interested if you could take us for a visit cheers 😉

    • jim harvey says:

      Hi Josh
      Would love to go around RAF Fauld, any chance you could show me round
      Cheers
      Jim

    • Lola says:

      Yes please can you help me and my film crew find this entrance I will give you full credit my name is Lola Cavey on Facebook inbox me

    • Mike says:

      Is the entrance still open?

  11. Callum says:

    I went there yesterday (22/05/2016) and had a really good explore even though all the doors I found were padlocked :( There was one huge door that looked like it had been welded shut lol no handles! That must of been the main entrance, explored the fields nearby though and found a few bunkers an got inside them got some good photos :) had a great day would love to get inside sometime though! Looking forward to my next outing!

    • Josh says:

      It’s really easy to get it. I live close too, bit tight but can get in.

      • Derrie says:

        Josh can you still meet up to show us the enterance? Can you still get down there

        • Keeper very local says:

          I think your time Josh is about up and Derrie if you are caught well it will not be pretty we have even had the anti-terrorism officer visit so my advice stay away.

          • The Urban Explorer says:

            Keeper, while I appreciate your concerns and understand why you’re commenting – please try not to threaten people. Remember a lot of the users here are just young and curious.

            • Keeper very local says:

              I have not threatened anyone my concern is for the safety of all of you that come onto private land and assume that they know where the old mine entrance, that is now no longer accessible, and the safety of people that work and live near by.

        • Mark Lindsey says:

          I have been following your adventures and I have lived in the area all my life I would love to get a picture of the entrance and I had a relative who died in the crater, it would be great to get some pictures, would it be possible to get any more info from you or meet up with you because I would hate to go wondering off onto private land?

    • keeper very local says:

      I seem to remember that the police got hold of you or were you the ones that tried to break in. You have to remember that you lot were not even close to the mine entrance and place you went is on CCTV which calls the local police out and for your information the old mine entrance is no longer accessible.

  12. Bill says:

    I’m surprised there’s been no mention of when the Americans arrived in the 60’s. The then stored American (NATO) ammunition was transferred from France to Fauld. I think it was something to do with Nato and French diplomacy. I have seen photos of hundreds of shells stacked on a platform in Scropton sidings being manhandled by American personnel for shipment across the fields into Fauld storage facilities.

    One day my wife and I were reading an article in the Burton Mail describing the transfer of American ammunition from France to Fauld. It was a long article and revealed the Commanding Officer came from Wisconsin. My wife and me was interested because my wife has (and still has) a pen friend from near where the new Officer Commanding Fauld lived in a place called Appleton Wisconsin.

    We decided to contact him to say hello and told him we had friends from near where he lived back home. We invited them over to our house and were excited to meet the Commander and his family. Suffice to say the evening went well especially for me as the Commander (Captain) in return invited me to a conducted tour by him of the storage caves and tunnels. His huge Cadillac glided up to the entrance to the mine where the bombs and ammunition were stored. I had to empty my pockets and handover the contents to a security guard inside the entrance, and so did the Captain. It’s all a long time ago and I can’t remember the detail, but overall the feeling for me was how much did all of this stuff cost. I suppose in the context of the Cold War it was peanuts.

    I cannot recall when the Americans left but they didn’t stay long.

    On another tack. Where I used to work was a chap who was an RAF Flight Sargent (only 18) and stationed at Fauld during the war. I can’t remember if he was there when the explosion occurred, the thing is, today, (17/5/2016) I had occasion to visit the Fauld industrial estate and found I had to pass some time away until my business was finished. I wandered up a long gradient to try and find where I went all those years ago and wondered whatever happened to the former American occupants.

    I also transported myself back in time, following the rails still in situ. I could sense the drama these rails had seen that was an everyday occurrence as thousands of bombs were trundled over to Scropton sidings loaded with untold fear, death and destruction.

    Nearby, a Chaffinch flitted and twittered in the brilliant green sunshine. I tried to make sense of it all.

  13. The Urban Man says:

    Hi Guys, just wondering if you have any entrances that are accessible? or that you would recommend to me as I only live 10 mins away and have only been once back in 2009 and would love to go again.

  14. Philip says:

    Hi Fantastic photographs. I just found the site after getting an email, most likely my Grandson set it up. But most fantastic photographs as I said, But I have a question related to this subject. Many years ago 1970s maybe I had a paperback book about underground London. Not ‘The Underground’ (railway, but about closed stations and war shelters etc.. Since I came home, from working in Kenya, I have lost it and I wonder if any of your members know of it or the real title, I have Googled it and spent many hours in the Library in Bristol, to no avail. If any one can help I would be most grateful.

    • Benjy says:

      Probably “Beneath the City streets” by Peter Laurie

      It was one of the first along with “War Plan UK” by Duncan Campbell

      If you are interested in this topic there are a number of truly Excellent references published by Folly Books, some written by Nick Catford, and others by Nick McCamley.

      Nick McCamley wrote a book on Fauld which will tell you all you need to know, and be of great help if you are looking for a way in.

      Google them, and get them on your Christmas list. They are essential reading and contain many excellent photographs and diagrams.

  15. Chris Hall says:

    I’m itching to explore here! From Wales willing to travel. Anyone fancy it? c.hall1988@outlook.com

  16. Morgan says:

    something tells me that the old girl isn’t quite as sealed up as the chaps of 28 days later would have you believe… I’m currently living with my inlaws in Fauld in a house at the entrance to the barracks. I’ve just put a request in with National Archives for a copy of the mine plan with illustration of the damage and effected access points.

    I found an entrance the other night while out walking, but I think it’s in the part which is occupied by the Fireworks company there. There were lights on and new locks on the doors…

    If anyone is up for a wander around there then let me know. I’ve got an outline of the undermined area which I take out with me so know how far to go when poking around in bits a woodland off the beaten track, but if anyone happens to be in the know then I’d love to tag along.

    I have a vested interest in this one, and am not looking to open up the flood gates to loads of tourists coming down and spoiling it. Just want to get in and see it for myself.

    • The Urban Explorer says:

      Hi Morgan,

      The chaps at 28dayslater know their stuff, trust me. It’s good to see you’re being pro-active and doing your own research rather than asking for handouts from people who have put in hundreds of their own hours of research.

      In December 2013, this was the state of the Fauld entrance portal.
      RAF Fauld Entrance

      In July earlier this year, I revisited and another 6ft (at least) of earth had been put on top of this. It’s well and truly buried, trust me! However, if you continue your research I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for. Sounds like you’re getting close.

      • Morgan says:

        I’m sure I am close. I’d like to search for an entrance/emergency exit to the south of the blast area as the terrain naturally slopes away towards to end of the undermined area, so it would make sense for there to be something around the “Hare Holes Rough” area…

        The only thing I’m unsure about is the condition of the tunnels this far in as they wont have seen much action since it went up…

        • Simon says:

          Hi Morgan, I’m ten minutes from Fauld if you fancy an explore sometime?

        • Jordan says:

          Hi Morgan
          Just looking for a few pointers as to where to look as I have searched the net far & wide and have only come up with what the entrance could look like no locations :( I have visited the area a few times & come up with nothing any info to where I can find some more would be great thanks.

          • Morgan says:

            Jordan, I know where the snug entrance to the det store tunnels is. Found it this evening. I was out for a run though so only had the torch on my phone hence didn’t venture far.

            Gimme a shout if you want to go up.

            • Derrie says:

              Hi Morgan, I searched the area for 7 hours on Saturday, I found a few places that could of been old enterances, one being tracks in the middle of the woods which disappeared into a burried entrance, any chance of taking me down there, so interested to see this wonderful piece of history, I will be going back and searching around the blast area more as I mainly searched around the old mine but drew a blank, thanks.

            • Mark Lindsey says:

              I have been following your adventures and I have lived in the area all my life I would love to get a picture of the entrance and I had a relative who died in the crater, it would be great to get some pictures, would it be possible to get any more info from you or meet up with you because I would hate to go wondering off onto private land?

        • Benjy says:

          The RAF depot (underground) did not extend as far as Hare Holes Rough. You are going to be on someone else’s property and annoy the hell out of someone. You may find some evidence of RAF activity at HHR as it is within the old RAF site boundary. If you think you have found access to underground workings you are more likely to stumble into British Gypsum workings and they will not make you welcome at all. Their H&S procedures mean they need to know exactly who is down the mine at any time and you stumbling in there will bugger up their headcount, and may prove risky for you too. Their workings extend south beyond Tatenhill airfield, and as far east as the Jet petrol station at the New Inn, Needwood.

          This is by far the best book on the subject and has maps that will show you just how far off target you are at Hare Holes Rough. It will give you detailed maps on other sites to explore, some underground.

          https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fauld-Disaster-27-November-1944/dp/0992855438/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

          The photographs are stunning so get this on your Christmas list now!

          The underground area of the RAF site does not extend much further south (maybe 100 metres) than the southern rim of the crater (SK 18224 27520) so you are best to keep out of Hare Holes Rough.

          The western boundary of the RAF underground site does NOT extend further west or north of the public footpath linking the following points, SK 18119 27684, SK 18150 27874, SK 18060 27980,SK 18265 28001, SK 18458 28336.

          To the east of that line is the crater, which is fenced off and managed by whom, MOD? Also the private areas fenced off by the scrap dealer and the West and East Pyro sites. The scrap dealer has dogs, lots of them. There is nothing to see there either. The Fireworks people at East and West Pyro sites are really nice so do not trespass on their property or piss them off. The nature of their materials is such that you will get into trouble with the police and if you are equipped to burgle they will sh*t on you from a very great height.

      • Sam says:

        Looking through your photos I assumed you used the same entrance that I did once, seeing this has made me think otherwise!

    • Lea says:

      I am interested!!!!

    • Hayd1101@hotmail.co.uk says:

      Morgan, email me and we’ll meet up sometime soon to explore, we may have cracked it ourselves.. ;)

    • Charlie says:

      Offer still open for an exploration of Fauld? Went up there a couple of months ago but couldn’t see anything.
      Thanks

  17. Larks says:

    I went into the tunnels 20 years ago with about 15 mates. We entered via a rabbit hole which put us in front of a brick wall with a hole cut out. We entered through and halfway down came across a collapse of reinforced concrete. There was however a route through. We carried on and reached two gain’t fan blades built into the wall (ventilation?) The place was erie and some mates went back. 10 years ago I tried to find the hole, without success. I know I could find it again though. It was 2ft away from a perimeter fence on the British gypsum site. Unbelievable experience I will not forget.

  18. Iain Goodfellow says:

    We went caravaning when I was about 7 in the field next to the crater, I can’t remember it being fenced off then but certainly remember climbing down the crater with my older brother. We lived in Burton Upon Trent nearby and I went again when I could drive and was definitely fenced off then. Couldn’t get anywhere near it.

  19. Andrew says:

    I was about ten or so when my family visited the Hanbury crater we entered the crater with bird noises all around. About 20 feet or so from the top it was silent only the sound of our talking and moving through the grass.

  20. Kirstin says:

    Fantastic photos, I lived near here – Barton, Rolleston and Tutbury – when I was growing up, my grandparents felt the explosion in Barton under Needwood. It has always been a fascinating place for me and I used to visit often, climb the fence and head down the crater – many years ago when it wasn’t so overgrown – you could see the gypsum cross at the bottom easily back then – now it’s very hard to see… I always heard rumours about there still being tunnels there, but was never curious enough to investigate then…. Now, I wish I had!!!!

    It has always been a fascinating place to me, somewhat eerie, normally deserted and beautifully quiet, I’ve moved away now so not visited the crater for a couple of years, but I would so love the visit the underground areas if anyone is up for a visit… I think visiting as a lone female is a bit silly, so anyone up for an explore let me know

    • The Urban Explorer says:

      I’m really surprised you didn’t happen across anything exploring the area as a child! Always good to hear of personal accounts, thanks for commenting.

      • Kirstin says:

        I used to walk there with my two mental staffies… I didn’t have a clue that an entrance could be in the vicinity (I’ve since google mapped it and have an idea where it could be, and if I’m right I didn’t walk in that area – higher fence!!)… I was generally keeping an eye on the dogs, making sure they didn’t come running over with an unexploded bomb between them haha!! ;)

  21. chloe says:

    Is this place restricted? I really need to film a music video and I need an abandoned creepy place to film and this looks awesome so I was curious as to whether I could film here or not.

  22. Hannah says:

    Has no one else noticed on the sixth photo down looks like a figure on the right hand side, is that a reflection or unexplained? Same with the twelfth photo down with that bolt of light? Brillant photos, love old history!

  23. Sam says:

    It would be massivly apreciated if anyone could provide me with a original tunnel plan, map or generally any cool info :) thanks.

  24. Luke says:

    I have been in here several times and it is a very exciting and bone shaking place to walk around knowing the history and things that took place here but I do advise you to be very careful going in here, but I doubt you would find the entrance anyway :)

  25. Joe says:

    Could your safety be at risk because of the unexploded bombs, I know some could be duds, but they could still explode.

  26. Landra says:

    These pics are really incredible! Would love to visit this place :)

  27. Jimmy Reeves says:

    Hi I’m a guy who just loves Photography and want to start finding places like this and doing shoots. Any advice about how you get involved in finding places like this?

  28. Steve says:

    I heard about this site a while ago and had wondered if anything was accessible. Brave to do that crawl through into somewhere potentially risky anyway.

  29. Alan Lynn says:

    It’s always a pleasure to go on your website. Always learn something new. Thank you.

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