Healey Dell

Site of Biological Importance and Local Nature Reserve.

This Site of Biological Importance and Local Nature Reserve forms an attractive area of dense natural woodland on steep banks around the River Spodden valley. The Dell is a popular local visitor attraction due to the quality of the scenery (which includes spectacular waterfalls), its biodiversity (which includes a varied bird population and a resident population of Roe deer) and its industrial archaeology (the area contained water powered ancient corn, wool and cotton mills). A disused 1800s railway line is now a nature trail with magnificent views from a 100-foot high viaduct. There are extensive areas of woodland protected by Tree Preservation Areas (TPO’s).

Healey Hall Munitions Filling Factory (1940’s)

During the Second World War an explosives Filling Factory was established at Healey Hall. It was designated as an assisted factory with guidance provided by the Royal Ordnance Factory at Chorley. Healey Hall filled 136 million 20-lb bombs for the RAF. For more detail see the Historic England Pastscape site and Lancashire At War.

Working in the Munitions Factory

Eunic Hutt, WW2 People’s War, Rochdale, Lancashire

“I was 19 years old at the start of the war. I decided to work on the munitions rather than go into the forces. I was living in Lancashire, and I worked in a factory in Healey Dell near Rochdale, making Mortar bombs. We worked in a factory; it was like a big shed with all different rooms. We worked on an assembly line. We sat on either side of a long table and each did a bit of everything towards making the bomb. We changed places every shift so that the job didn’t become too monotonous. The explosives were put in at the very end. There was once an explosion but fortunately nobody was injured.

Healey Dell was a lovely place and the bombers couldn’t see the factory. When the bombers went over we just held our breath to see if they would drop a bomb. They didn’t and I’m still here to tell the tale! We sang a lot to the radio programme ‘music while you work’. We worked a fortnight on days and a fortnight on nights for £3.2.6d. I stayed all during the war and they wrapped up the firm after the war. I then went back to my old job working as a machinist in a clothing factory.”

WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar

Maps of Healey Hall Munitions Filling Factory

The map below details: Plant, Staff Accommodation, Munitions Factory, Administration and Security

Below: Ministry of Supply Map

The following maps show the progression of the site from 1893 to the present day

Below: Ordnance Survey Lancashire Sheet LXXX. 16 Scale 1:2500 – 1893

Below: Ordnance Survey Lancashire Sheet LXXX. 16 Scale 1:2500 – 1910

Below: Ordnance Survey Lancashire Sheet LXXX. 16 Scale 1:2500 – 1929

Below: Ordnance Survey Landplan SD8714 Scale 1:5000 – 2003

Below: Remains of Healey Hall Munitions Filling Factory Nissen Huts (as detailed on the map above)

Video of Healey Hall Munitions Filling Factory

Production of Munitions in Rochdale During the Great War

Other Resource

Broadley Railway Station

The Dangerous Energy Project is an English Heritage (now Historic England) publication. There is a section on 2nd World War filling factories starting on page 211, which will give some general background information, and Healey Hall is listed in the gazetteer, at the end of the book, on page 279 (listed under Rochdale).

A Day In The Life Of A Munitions Worker – Imperial War Museum Great War Archive