27 June 2016

UK Weapons of Mass Destruction

One of the normally inaccessible features of the Rhydymwyn Valley Works, developed by ICI in 1939 to manufacture and store mustard gas, is the tunnel system. Three tunnels (central one in bottom photo) were driven about 600 feet into the side of the valley, through limestone, and connected by four cross-tunnels, the stores (below). The system was designed to enable the storage of 3,120 tons of mustard gas, both Runcol and Pyro.

The site's production facilities were closed at the end of the war, when most of the UK's chemical weapons stocks were simply dumped at sea. But the country's then 'strategic reserve' of mustard gas remained stored in the Rhydymwyn tunnel facility until its destruction in 1958-60.

The store was ventilated by means of two huge extractor fans, at the top of the chimneys at the ends of each of the north and south tunnels. Air was drawn into the tunnels, deflected into a void above a mild steel ceiling throughout the storage areas, down through vents in this, and drawn out through grille-covered floor ducts, and up the chimneys. The steel ceiling was carried on concrete corbels.

19 June 2016

Borderlands Rare Vintage Tin

The Clwyd Veteran and Vintage Machinery Show, held annually, throws up some real rarities amongst its shows of cars, commercial vehicles, bicycles and motorbikes, steam and stationary engines, tractors and horticultural machinery. The Lotus Europa (above) was a mid-engined GT, built in Hethel, Norfolk, between 1966 and 1975.

Karrier, part of Clayton and Co. of Huddersfield, started making small commercial vehicles in about 1907, and later moved into manufacturing buses and trolley-buses. It was bought by Commer, part of the Rootes Group, in 1934, itself acquired by Chrysler in 1967, who dropped the brand. This Karrier Bantam was a coal lorry.

NSU, an abbreviation of the company's home town of Neckarsulm, was founded in 1873. It was acquired by Volkswagen in 1969, and merged with Auto Union, who owned the Audi brand - the company name changed to Audi in 1985. The last NSU-badged car was the Ro80, with a twin-rotor Wankel engine and a semi-automatic vacuum transmission, built from 1967 to 1977.

Clan was formed in Washington, Co. Durham, in 1971, by a team of ex-Lotus engineers; and closed in 1973. It re-emerged as Clan Cars in the early 1980s, based in Newtownards, Northern Ireland. In 1985 it released the Clan Clover, with an Alfa Romeo powertrain. The company failed anew in 1987, having built only 26 Clovers.