Cliffe Explosives Factory

It was now day two the final day of out expedition. Some of us had sunburn from yesterday however we were all ready for the day ahead, being particularly excited at the size of our next site. Our day started by us cooking some bacon and sausages which went down a real treat! We never realised just how many gnats there were the night before with over 20 in the outer-section of our tent! We then tidied up and packed our belongs together and headed off with our lighter bags.


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South-East of our tent

Also known as ‘Curtis & Harvey’s Explosive Factory’ the site is now accompanied by loads of sheep, in which looking at pictures from last year, are a modern addition! According to

The factory began life as a Gunpowder Works, established in 1892 by Hay, Merricks and Company, gunpowder makersof Roslin, Scotland. It was a specialised Gunpowder Works engaged only in the finishing operations of gunpowder manufacture, namely blending, dusting and packing. A jetty was constructed to receive and dispatch powder and the original licence plan showed it was intended to construct 14 buildings. However, it appears that only two buildings were erected. An amending licence was issued and the site was used for the storage of explosives and electrical detonators, with a potential capacity of 400 tons. During the Great War Curtis’s and Harvey at Cliffe was listed as a place where gunpowder was either manufactured or stored.

The closest explosives factory to Canvey is Wat Tyler in which you can read BTP Liam’s in depth post here. The aerial photo below just shows how big the site was!

The following photo (not courtesy of us) is an OS map from 1897 and shows the site.

Unfortunately there is so little information available on the site and we don’t want to give any incorrect information so below are some photos. I was, however, able to find this. This is the inquest from 1904 that details the death of a man who was injured at the explosives works.

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At this point we had been walking for a total of about one and half hours today and the heat was getting hotter and hotter. At this point is just became unbearable and with a shortage of water, we requested to be picked up.

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Ba Ba Black Sheep…


After finally crossing this, we had a short walk followed by a short wait and we were picked up. Luckily our ‘chauffeur’ had brought water and this was a big delight! This then concluded our trip and over 24 hours we had explored more than Time Team and in a third of the time! 3 forts and half of an explosives factory – not bad! We might be returning to the site at a later date to explore it fully, find out more and get some photos but definitely in cooler weather! With thanks to our parents for providing us with the car journeys. That’s all for our camping posts and BTP Liam is now back from holiday who will present you with the next article. We have to good news to tell you as well! This year we have reached (to today) 19,873 website views, which despite it only being August, is over 1,300 more than the whole of last year making our website receive a total of…….drum roll please………42,541 views!! Do keep visiting the website and we’ll see you soon!

Upcoming events: Sunday 25th August 2013 – Bay Museum Plaque Unveiling – Saturday 14th September, stall at the Essex Records Office, 10am-4pm.

Sources: and and

  1. Wevsky says:

    Nice enough piece lads but id lose the hdr pics..

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