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Wapley Common Inland Sorting Depot, Yate, South Gloucestershire

Gill, Jonathan (2009) Wapley Common Inland Sorting Depot, Yate, South Gloucestershire. Project Report. Oxford Archaeological Unit Ltd. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

On the eastern side of Yate in South Gloucestershire is a large depot constructed during the Second World War which was historically known as Wapley Common, after the railway junction where its branch adjoins the main line. This depot is now being redeveloped but due to the historical interest of Wapley Common a programme of building recording has been undertaken prior to the clearance of the buildings on the site. Due to the dramatic expansion of Yate in the 2nd half of the 20th century the site is now surrounded by housing developments but when it was first constructed in 1942 the site was in open fields between Yate and Chipping Sodbury. The site was constructed as part of a programme approved at the very end of 1940 to build a series of Inland Sorting Depots to relieve overcrowded port facilities and to rapidly move goods (particularly flammable materials and food) away from the main docks which had been targeted by the Luftwaffe bombers in 1940 and 1941. Wapley Common was intended to receive goods from Bristol (Avonmouth) Docks while similar Inland Sorting Depots were constructed close to Cardiff, Liverpool and Glasgow. By the time that Wapley Common was completed (probably in the second half of 1942) the circumstances of the war had altered significantly and this led to a slightly different use for the depot. By this date the bombing threat to dock facilities had receded somewhat and the Americans had entered the War. Rather than forming an inland sorting depot for foodstuffs and other conventional supplies Wapley Common's principal use (and possibly for a period its sole use) was as part of Operation Bolero: the colossal logistical build up of US Army personnel and equipment in Britain prior to and following D-Day. As part of Operation Bolero Wapley Common (and several of the other Inland Sorting Depots) were each used by the Americans to store equipment with Wapley Common used by the US Army 9th Air Force to store aircraft parts. After the War the site was used as a naval depot for many years before more recently being transferred to the Highways Agency. Aerial photographs have provided a good impression of the changes to the site and its surroundings since Wapley Common’s original construction. One such photograph shows the site under construction in June 1942 while another from 1946 shows the site fully developed with four warehouses, each with camouflage painted roofs, a dense network of railway tracks and a large area of railway sidings. By 1963 the expansion of Yate had reached the western edge of the depot and by 1971 the rail line to the main line had been lost. By 1989 the two western warehouses had been demolished and by 1994 the roof of the northern sheds had been re-covered Apart from the two main warehouses the other main features which survive are an administration building, two entrance lodges and a set of earth banks which show how cuttings were made for rail tracks to allow the engines to pass slightly beyond the store building and position the wagons alongside the store buildings.

Item Type:Monograph (Project Report)
Subjects:Geographical Areas > English Counties > Gloucestershire
Period > UK Periods > Modern 1901 - present
ID Code:935
Deposited By: Scott
Deposited On:09 Oct 2012 11:16
Last Modified:14 Jan 2013 17:13

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