Heritage project scheme unveiled at Hereford's Skylon Park

Ledbury Reporter: The former munitions factory at Rotherwas could be transformed into a heritage park.  (6856729) The former munitions factory at Rotherwas could be transformed into a heritage park. (6856729)

THE site of Hereford's former munitions factory could be transformed into a heritage park, under draft proposals unveiled this week.

The factory in Rotherwas, which employed more than 6,000 people at the height of the First World War, could become a visitor attraction which tells the story of the city's contribution to the war efforts.

At the heart of the project is the now derelict First and Second World War shell store on Skylon Park – the site of Hereford's Enterprise Zone.

Neil Kerr, vice-chairman of the Enterprise Zone Board, said: “Our proposals are innovative, educational and a fitting tribute to the people who not only worked here but those who died here too.

"We are keen to have community involvement in the redevelopment of the area, which we think could be transformed into a heritage park, sympathetically retelling the story of the site using the keynote structures which remain.

“The munitions factory is the last remaining building of scale on the site, and our draft proposals are supported by the county's First World War centenary committee and many other interest groups in Herefordshire. We have already welcomed local historians to the site to explain more about what we would like to do here and feedback was extremely positive.”

One suggestion by the team behind the project – which includes members of the Enterprise Zone team, heritage consultants, architects and landowner Herefordshire Council – is to remove the walls of the munitions factory, but maintain the steel structure.

Maps and models of the former shell store and the North Magazine area could form part of the attraction and suggested exhibits include wire frame workers, concrete shell reproductions and audio-visual experiences.

The 40,000 sq ft factory, one of the best preserved of its type in the UK, was built in the middle of the First World War when the British army began to run out of shells.

It opened in 1916 as a munitions filling factory and became one of the largest explosive filling sites in the UK.

Employing mainly women during the Second World War, it was bombed in 1942 and suffered a major explosion in 1944.

Mr Kerr added: “Trains from Barrs Court Station brought workers onto site each day, with up to 6,000 people during the height of the World War One making around 70,000 shells a week."

He added that another idea being considered is to retain the steel structure to reveal a parkland expanse with a poppy meadow.

Three blast walls could be used as space to tell the story of what happened there.

Project leaders are now asking for views on the project before submitting a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

To find out more or to comment on the proposals visit facebook.com/shellstore or email feedback to social@skylonpark.co.uk

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