New business premises planned after demolition of wartime bunkers

Work is to start on the development of 80,000 sq ft of new business premises after the demolition of a number of "uninhabitable" Merseyside wartime bunkers.

Located on Acornfield Road and Draw Well Road in Kirkby stands ten buildings from the Second World War, known as the Group 9 buildings, which form part of what was ROF Kirkby – Royal Ordnance Filling Factory No.7.

Completed in 1941, The Royal Ordnance Factory site was one of around 40 ROF's to be constructed at the time and over its six year use manufactured 10% of all munitions for the war effort.

But in March this year, plans were approved to demolish four of the wartime bunkers on Draw Well Road that had been "vacant and derelict for a significant period of time."

Zilch - No Credit Check Finance

The site is not currently in commercial use and after the war and up until recently was used largely for storage.

Enter your postcode for details of what's going on in your area

A Knowsley Council spokesperson said: "The buildings formed part of what was ROF Kirkby, Royal Ordnance Filling Factory No. 7. This ROF site was built as a war duration-only facility.

"A number of the bunkers were uninhabitable and had been vacant / derelict for a significant period of time.

wirral airport transfers mersesysideairportservice.co.uk

"The site also included a redundant car park and former offices which had also past their useful life and therefore the site overall presented an opportunity for regeneration to bring forward modern fit for purpose employment space.

"Once demolition is completed work will start on the development of 80,000 sq ft of new business premises.

"Full consideration was given before making this decision; with English Heritage and Historic England being fully briefed and consulted before any demolition took place and there are no plans to demolish the remaining six Group 9 buildings."

Knowsley Council said once demolition is completed work will start on the development of 80,000 sq ft of new business premises

The Royal Ordnance Factory was once a major employer in the town and had people travel from Liverpool, Birkenhead, St Helens and more to be part of the workforce.

Liverpool City Council bought the site for industrial development in the post war years and afterwards it became Kirkby Industrial Estate.

According to a statement of heritage significance, the four group nine buildings or bunkers are all constructed identically, comprising a single storey internal space that is partly cut into the ground and the roof and sides covered with earth, each forming a squared mound.

Each is made from reinforced concrete, with the eastern and western section of each having brick ventilation towers.

Based on observations made by Wardell Armstrong (2019), all four buildings had undergone minor changes since the closure of the site in 1946 and recent changes include the installation of roller shutters for doors and large openings.

According to a council officer, the four buildings were last used as commercial and storage units.

Work has since begun on the site – and some residents have already caught a glimpse of what is left inside the historical structures.

Dave Tyrer, 66, was heading south down Acornfield Road with his family after visiting the local tip when he noticed work taking place.

The family stopped the car and got out to get a closer look of what remained of the site.

He told the ECHO: "We were driving past and I said oh my god look at this.

"I know quite a lot about the site because worked for my dad worked for Dickinson Robinson group on the other side and that was open in the fifties. He stayed there until he retired and it was gone a while after that.

"He would refer to it as the Royal Ordnance Factory and as I got older and more interested I asked him why he called it that and not Kirkby Industrial Estate.

"It was fascinating to look inside of them."

Work has already begun on the site in Kirkby

Dave said work taking place on the site looked tidy and orderly and he is interested to see what it will become in the future.

"The bunkers on the other side of the road are still there and they’ve been able to be adapted for use after the Second World war. It's remarkable.

"They were so well made. They've stood the test of time and it will be interesting to see who bought the site and what they’re hoping to do there."

PUBLISH YOUR ARTICLE ON NEWSWIRRAL.CO.UK