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Waltham Abbey Links

 grand days out


Waltham Abbey Tourist Information Office
It's opposite the Town Hall, a few doors away from the Abbey Church.

Waltham Abbey Church
No apologies for listing this website twice - the Abbey Church is simply the biggest attraction in town by a long, long way!

Epping Forest District Museum
Sited in Sun Street in the centre of town, this Museum serves the whole of the Epping Forest District. Its regularly updated displays and pro-active policy are a major resource for the town. Free entry.

Copped Hall
Copped Hall is a ruined mansion on the edge of our parish, which has almost a thousand years of history and can list a king, an abbot and a railway magnate amongst its owners! The Copped Hall Trust organises tours and open days of the mansion and its gardens, which they are gradually restoring.

Lee Valley Park
Much of the valley of the River Lea, from the Thames to Hertford, is now a public park with extensive facilities and sights worth seeing. Local sites of interest with their own pages on the above website include the following:

The Abbey Gardens
These wonderfully atmospheric gardens surrounding the Abbey Church play host to many popular events today. In earlier times they have been a farm, a market-garden, and a medieval cemetery! Free 24/7 access.

Gunpowder Park
A new open space created from the south site of the Propellants, Explosives and Rocket Motor Establishment.

The Dragonfly Sanctuary
A unique resource of national importance which is also a good place to go for a stroll. If you want to see even more dragonflies after your visit, try the small pools hidden amongst the trees near High Beech in the centre of Epping Forest.

Lee Valley Park Farms
A working farm (Hayes Hill Farm) absorbed into the Lee Valley Park, complete with fluffy animals - great for keeping your parents distracted! At Holyfield hamlet, just north of town.

Lee Valley Park events calendar

Museums in Hertfordshire
Brief details and links to 34 museums in Hertfordshire

Places to Visit in East Hertfordshire
'Looking for an idea for a day out? Interested in heritage, wildlife, gardens or galleries? Why not relax on a Lee Valley river cruise, experience the wildlife at Paradise Park or explore the unique underground passages of Scott's Grotto. Whatever your looking for, here you will find plenty to offer all ages.'

What's on in Waltham Abbey (Waltham Abbey Town Council)
The WATC site was undergoing major surgery and at the time of writing, and this page was far from full of entries. But it may well be by the time you read this.

Waltham Abbey Town Show
The annual Town Mead knees-up moves to June in 2008.

Waltham Abbey's Restaurants
The town's many restaurants and cafés have rightly earned a reputation for their quality and variety - some are outstanding and attract regulars from far and wide. There are a number of websites clamouring to list them all for you; we've included this one simply because it appears to be the only one which includes our favourite teatime halt - Philpotts. Perfect when accompanied with a stroll around town!

Waltham Abbey Pubs (a guide for drinkers)

WAHS Lectures
How could we leave this out? The best way to round off a visit to one of the town's restaurants or watering-holes!

Local Wi-fi Hotspots
Why not do some networking while you're here? Better still, come along to our Lectures and hobnob instead!

Epping Forest bodies
History, astronomy, archery, fencing, petanque, male voice choir, swimming, amateur dramatics, morris dancing, archaeology, horticulture, model airplane flying, geology, chess, writing...
Whatever your poison, there's bound to be a group dedicated to it in the Epping Forest area which you can join. This page lists nearly 120 local groups, clubs and societies.

What's on in Waltham Forest
A well-maintained listing of events in and around Walthamstow.


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 The Gunpowder Factory


Royal Gunpowder Mills Museum
See the remains of a gunpowder factory with four centuries of history. Spectacular events are staged every weekend throughout the Summer.

The Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey
An authoritative historical account of the RGPF, written by Les Tucker of the Friends of the RGPF, for the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society.

A little-known canal system
A detailed article on the RGPF's canal system, by Les Tucker, from issue 182 of 'Navvies', the journal of the Waterway Recovery Group (see pages 8 - 9).
NOTE: this link leads to a 3.1Mb PDF file!

RGMM photos
Stirring photos of modern re-enactments at the Royal Gunpowder Mills Museum.

RGMM photos 2
A collection of ten photographic records of historic buildings in the RGPF site (plus two more on other local themes).

A History of English Black Powder and Gunpowder
Reading this will fire your enthusiasm!

Royal Gunpowder Mills (Wikipedia article)

European Route of Industrial Heritage
The Royal Gunpowder Mills Museum is one of the "Anchor Points" of the ERIH, which snakes across six European countries. This link gives a good overview of the gunpowder factory's history and the present museum.

The Royal Gunpowder Factories
An industrial history of the Gunpowder Factory from the viewpoint of British Aerospace. This article places the Waltham Abbey site at the origin of all gunpowder production in England, at least from the point of view of governmental acquisition and control:
"The Royal Gunpowder Factories can trace their history back to 1560 when the first Royal Gunpowder Factory was established at Waltham Abbey in Essex.  This site has the longest known association with the manufacture of explosives of any site in Great Britain.  By 1672, the site contained gunpowder mills and under successive generations of the Walton family, it developed into the largest and most complete works in Britain by 1735."
The article then moves on into Early Modern and Modern times, up to the site's role in the Second World War and its closure in 1991.

Nitro-glycerine washing house, South Site, Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Factory
First published in the Industrial Archaeology Review in 2001, this archaeological report of the late 19th century Quinton Hill nitro-glycerine washing house, undertaken in 1996, says that “the building is remarkably well-preserved, retaining many internal fixtures and fittings from the turn of the century. As part of the first government cordite factory, and as the only standing example of its type in the country, the washing house is a monument of national importance.”
This monument, and everything else which stood with it, has now been replaced by a housing estate and the Gunpowder Park.

National Factories Controlled by the Ministry of Munitions, Jun 1915 - Nov 1918
A comprehensive table of manufacturers of goods for the Great War, with details of the products made by each. For example, the Royal Gunpowder factory made "Cordite, gunpowder, tetryl, guncotton and fusepowder." Listed in "Chronological Order of Establishment" (which puts Waltham Abbey at the top).

Ministry of Defence: further examination of the sale of Royal Ordnance PLC
An abstract of the paper written by John Bourn, for the National Audit Office.
"In April 1987 the Government completed the privatisation of the Royal Ordnance Factories by selling Royal Ordnance plc to British Aerospace plc by private treaty following competition...In late 1988, there were various media reports on speculation on the possible under-valuation of assets owned by Royal Ordnance at the time the Company was sold to British Aerospace...The NAO [National Audit Office] have carried out a further examination of these aspects of the sale of Royal Ordnance."


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 the royal small arms Factory
Though officially in Enfield, the RSAF was so intertwined with Waltham Abbey's RGPF - even sharing an internal railway network, for instance - that this seems the best place to put these links.

An overview of the history of the Royal Small Arms Factory.

A Short History of the Royal Small Arms Factory, and A Short History of Royal Ordnance Patricroft - a Review
"British Aerospace, which has owned Royal Ordnance since 1987 and closed both the plants in 1989, commissioned these two works from the Centre for Applied Historical Studies, Middlesex University. They give a succinct and absorbing analysis of the industrial fumbling and political myopia which foreshadowed Britain's decline long before the death of Wellington. Corelli Barnetts Audit of War makes clear the effect on Britain's military capabilities of craft traditions and under-investment in the age of mass production; these two company histories go into the nuts and bolts of the matter."

The Lee Enfield Rifle, 1895
An account of the iconic weapon, by BAE Systems.


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Copyright Waltham Abbey Historical Society, 2007.