In 2001, Waltham Abbey’s Royal Gunpowder Mills was opened to the public as a visitor attraction thanks to a campaign mounted by local people, many of whom worked at the Mills, with support from military historians, industrial archaeologists. Since then it has welcomed thousands of families and schoolchildren to the site.
The site currently offers an exciting programme of hands-on science and nature based activities. Visitor transport comprises two railways and a ‘land train’. Indoors, the Mills’ unique collection of artefacts are exhibited in a number of restored buildings, some of which are 300 years old, and bring to life the fascinating history of this unique site.
Full details of the education programmes and visitor attractions can be seen on The Royal Gunpowder Mills website and include:
Last year the attraction was awarded the Certificate of Excellence from Tripadvisor for consistently earning good reviews from visitors. It was made the shortlist – 6 out of 800 museums – of the Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award 2014.
The Foundation’s proposal for establishing a new visitor attraction in the northern wooded area of the site is fundamentally flawed. The few buildings large enough for exhibiting historic artefacts and visitor facilities are in a very poor condition. Vehicle and pedestrian access is either non-existent or totally inadequate. There are no connections to electrical, water and sewage services. The work required is unaffordable unless the Foundation can obtain very substantial grants from public bodies or charitable donors.
Public access to the RGM site and its historic buildings should be maintained. The RGM’s collection of historic artefacts should continue to be exhibited on the site. Limited commercial development of under-utilised areas of the RGM site could be a vital source of funds needed for repairs to buildings and infrastructure, and improvements to visitor facilities.