The Ordnance Depot

(based upon a short article by M Rumbold, Chm. Weedon Bec History Society)

Extract of another history article by M Rumbold

The former Royal Ordnance Depot (see map). is located between the old villages of Weedon and the A5 and A45 trunk roads and is surrounded by a high brick wall.  There are eight original storehouses arranged in two lines on each side of a branch of the canal which once was connected to the Grand Union Canal located a short distance away.  The connection has been filled in.

The Grand Junction Canal reached Weedon in 1796.  Napoleonic wars in Europe encouraged the English government to set up a military supply depot well away from the coast and any risk of capture as it was well known that Napoleon had made plans for the invasion of England.  In 1803, an Act of Parliament secured 53 acres of land but later the estate was extended to 150 acres.

The branch canal entered the Depot under a portcullis at its eastern end.  The portcullis was set in a building known as the East Lodge integrated in a high brick perimeter wall. It can still be seen.  At the west end there is a similar lodge and the canal originally  extended beyond it to serve specialised buildings designed to store gunpowder that was delivered by canal boat. These "magazine" storage buildings, each separated from the other by a building filled with earth, can still be seen from within the trading estate off the Daventry Road (A 45) that occupies the area once used by the barracks.

An original design for the Depot was based on storehouses set out at right angles to the branch canal.  This was abandoned as it was seen as a disadvantage to be constrained to fill a storehouse from the end like a sack!   The buildings were built chiefly of red bricks that were made nearby.  The sill bands of stone were considered non-essential but were included to enhance the appearance of the buildings. For an up to date account of the interior layout of a storehouse see this neighbouring article.

Built at the same time as the Depot, the barracks were arranged about a Barrack Square. Some buildings had stables on the ground floor since the original purpose was to accommodate an artillery division that used guns hauled by horse.  Later in 1922, the barracks became the Army School of Equitation, and an extensive indoor riding school and further stables were constructed. After being disused for many years they were demolished during the winter of 1955-6.

The Royal Army Ordnance Corps moved out of Weedon Depot on February 16, 1965 and buildings were then used by the Ministry of Supply.  The main storehouses are now owned privately and are Grade II* listed.  Many other buildings, including perimeter walls are Grade II* listed.