Digital Archive

Our Archive has been digitised and is available to view online at
Funding for the online Archive was donated by the Royal Gunpowder Mills Friends Association.

The Archive is also listed on The National Archives website.

Royal Gunpowder Mills Archive Homepage

History of the Archive

After the closure of ERDE, the archive material inherited passed through a number of hands and storage locations, particularly in the latter period before opening to the public, when outside staff from the firm designing the exhibition had to have free access. Consequently by 2001 the Archive had become rather disorganised.

The opportunity has therefore been taken to start a ground-up exercise involving a complete check of the holding and the design of computer databases of the material in order to produce the digital catalogue.

Seven elements are involved:

  1. Verifying the original Waltham Abbey Special Collection of documents and small objects 
  2. Images
  3. Building Drawings
  4. Non Building Drawings 
  5. Maps and Plans
  6. Library
  7. Audio & Visual Recordings


Data checking and transfer has been a time consuming process. The Archive in now fully updated and catalogued, and available online, which will provide the researcher with a complete and accessible historical picture of the Mills and the industry and will provide a resource to draw on for special displays, written articles, family researchers, historical enquirer’s etc.


This effort has resulted in the publication of 14 books, now available for purchase in our Gift Shop and online from Amazon.


Unless otherwise specified all our Archive documents are © Crown Copyright and covered under the Open Government Licence version 2.0:

Archive Questions

If you have a question about the history of the Mills or its former employees, please email your question to the Archive and we will attempt to answer your queries.

If you would like to volunteer to work on the Archive as a Volunteer Archivist, please refer to our Volunteer Page for more details and an Application Form. 

Archive Collections

Some of our Archive collections are described below.

Publications based on the Archive are also listed.

View the complete Royal Gunpowder Mills Archive online.

WASI - Waltham Abbey Staff Index

  • While we have detailed records of the people who worked at the Gunpowder Mills between 1787 and 1841 (WAPP), we have only sparse information on employees since that time due to the fact that the personnel records disappeared into which ever government department which was responsible for the Mills/Research Establishment after that time. We have not been able to track down any of those personnel records.
  • The Staff Index provided below contains the names from WAPP as well as names gleaned from other documents within the WARGM Archive.
  • WARGM Staff Index

WAPP - Waltham Abbey Personnel Project

WAOH - Waltham Abbey Oral History Project

  • A collection of interviews with past employees.
  • 31 items
  • Recorded on audio tapes
  • Digitized computer audio files
  • Catalogued in Computer Database

WASC - Waltham Abbey Special Collection

  • Document and Artefact Collection
  • 2398 files / 58,311 pages
  • Digitized in PDF files
  • Work in progress
  • Catalogued in Computer Database

WAI - Waltham Abbey Images

  • 9000+ Images
  • Digitized image files
  • Work in progress
  • Catalogued in Computer Database

WABD - Waltham Abbey Building Drawings

  • Building Drawings
  • 600+ Items
  • Digitized image files
  • Catalogued in Computer Database

WANBD - Waltham Abbey Non Building Drawings

  • Non Building Drawings and Engravings
  • 225 Items
  • Digitized image files
  • Catalogued in Computer Database

WAMP - Waltham Abbey Maps and Plans

  • Maps and Plans 
  • 550 Items
  • Digitized image files
  • Catalogued in Computer Database

WASU - Waltham Abbey Superintendents

WAAC - Waltham Abbey Accident Chronology

WAC - Waltham Abbey Chronology

  • Timeline of important events at or related to the Royal Gunpowder Mills
  • Catalogued in Computer Database