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.
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!
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.