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Old Colwall Naval Armaments Store (OCNAS), Old Colwall Tunnel, Colwall

SMR Number
: 24668
Grid Reference
: SO 7609 4290

This tunnel lies alongside the present rail tunnel through the Malvern Hills, between Colwall and Malvern Wells. Completed in 1861 the old Colwall tunnel had been difficult to construct and caused problems during its working life with roack falls. A new replacement tunnel was constructed alongside and completed in 1926. In the autumn of 1939 repairs were made to the lining of the old tunnel and a concrete floor laid so that it could be used as an Admiralty armaments store. The official title was apparently Old Colwall Armaments Store (OCNAS). A guard was posted at each end, apparently comprising up to 40 soldiers. These were accommodated, when not on duty, at two huts adjoining Colwall Station. These huts still exist (recorded separately). To help improve the process of placing armaments in store and removing them for use, a narrow guage railway was laid within the tunnel, utilising two diesel locomotives to move the armaments. The railway was apparently in use by July 1941 and a small engine shed was constructed at each end of the tunnel to accommodate the locomotives. Fragments of an old ledge survive which imply, amongst other things, that many of the armaments came from the Royal Ordnance Factory at Rotherwas. Another tunnel 'Hawthorn Tunnel' also existed, though this has not been located. after the war, the railway was dismantled, the locomotives sent to the Admiralty Depot at Bullpoint, Devon, and the tunnel mouth sealed with steel sheeting. The entrances at both ends are inaccessible. (1) (2) (3) (4)

Monument Type(s)

  1. ARMAMENT DEPOT (20th Century - 1901 AD to 2000 AD)
  2. RAILWAY TUNNEL (19th Century to 20th Century - 1801 AD to 2000 AD)

Associated Files

    Sources and Further Reading

    1. <1>SHE18873 - Document: Wilks, M. 1997. Defence of Britain Project record form: Old Colwall Naval Armaments Store (OCNAS).
    2. <2>SHE14053 - Bibliographic reference: Postle, D. 1988. A glimpse of Old Ledbury. Defence of Britain source.
    3. <3>SHE14041 - Bibliographic reference: Boynton, J. 1995. A Journey through the Hills. Defence of Britain source.
    4. <4>SHE14055 - Bibliographic reference: Hurle, P and J Winser. 1985. A Portrait of Malvern.

    Associated Historic Landscape Character Records

    1. HHE371 - Adaptation of Earlier Enclosure System - Former Common Arable Fields - L1 Linking Type
    Last Updated: 23/07/2010 12:35:57