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Bowhouse, Air Ministry Munitions Factory

Armament Depot (20th Century), Munitions Factory (20th Century)

Site Name Bowhouse, Air Ministry Munitions Factory

Classification Armament Depot (20th Century), Munitions Factory (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Woodhead

Canmore ID 111621

Site Number NS43SE 15

NGR NS 467 348

NGR Description Centred NS 467 348

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council East Ayrshire
  • Parish Riccarton
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Kilmarnock And Loudoun
  • Former County Ayrshire

Archaeology Notes

NS43SE 15 centred 467 348

Also falls on OS 1:10000 scale map sheet NS43NE

Visible on OS vertical air photographs 65/8/700-1 and 84/228/112-14.

This shell and bomb filling factory is situated to the SE of Hurlford E of the A76 (T) road and immediately S of the Kilmarnock to Carlisle railway. The site had been completely cleared by March 1998 to allow the construction of a new prison.

J Guy 2001; NMRS MS 810/11, Vol.1, 168-9

Munitions factory has now been demolished and HM Prison built on the site.

Information from RCAHMS (DE), February 2008


Archaeological Evaluation (25 November 1996 - 9 December 1996)

NS 466 349 A field and desk study of the WWII munitions factory at Bowhouse (constructed 1939) produced a wealth of information on the site and its workings.

The desk study, using both written and oral sources, allowed a detailed history of the site to be compiled. Particular emphasis was given to the incendiary bomb production phase, as Bowhouse was one of only two such production centres in the British Isles during WWII.

Site description

The factory covers an area of c.1km by 400m. The W part of the site contains the administration buildings, incorporating an 18th-century farmhouse. Skirting the N perimeter are the loading and unloading warehouses. The bulk of the site contains heavily fortified production buildings and packing houses, turfed over for camouflage purposes, each with its own blast bank and air-raid shelters. The whole complex was served by an internal railway system, linking to the main Kilmarnock to Carlisle railway line, which passes close by the site.

Site phasing

1 The period of bomb construction, 1939-45.

1a The addition of buildings to the E end of the site, c 1941.

2 Use of the site as a bomb dismantling site, 1950s.

3 Use of the site as a depot, 1950s-1968.

4 Subsequent non-military uses (horse and greyhound stables, small workshops), 1969-present.

Fuller report lodged with the NMRS (MS/725/146)

Sponsor: Scottish Prison Services.

K Speller and C French 1997


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