The Royal Gunpowder Mills - Waltham Abbey's best kept secret for you to discover

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The Royal Gunpowder Mills

The site closes for 2022 at the end of October - open again next Easter. 

Pay at the entrance or book tickets in advance here: Royal Gunpowder Mills - explore our explosive visitor attraction! Tickets, Multiple Dates | Eventbrite

Travel back through time and discover 300 years of explosive and top secret history at the Royal Gunpowder Mills!

Start your visit with the introductory film in the cinema. Find out more by visiting the main exhibition and the Rocket Vault. Discover what it takes to make a rocket fly then make and launch your own air powered rocket! Professor Nitrate will tell you more in his explosive outdoor science show. Visit the Armoury, a must-see comprehensive collection of small arms and militaria.

To explore more of the intriguing 170 acre site, choose between a 25 minute guided Tractor Tour or a 22 minute ride on the new Gunpowder Railway (narrow gauge). Knowledgeable guides will tell you all about the site's history. Remember to look out for wildlife on this Site of Special Scientific Interest, including a unique herd of fallow deer.

Relax on the grassy mead and finish your visit with a go on the playground. All of the above is included in your ticket price!

Enjoy drinks and light snacks in the Gunpowder Cafe during your visit to keep you fueled.

Visit the Royal Gunpowder Mills website to find out more:

Must See Attractions (click on the links for latest updates):

The Mad Lab is home to Professor Nitrate and a fantastic array of science shows. With various shows throughout the day. There's always something new to learn. The Mad Lab is also home to the Professor's assistants who will be on hand to show you their latest experiments with fun take home experiments on offer.

The Rocket Vault. From tank busters to rocket motors used to launch satellites into space – see some of the secret rockets worked on at Waltham Abbey. The exhibition shows the development of rocket motors and propellants from Congreve's gunpowder rocket of the early 19th century through to the guided missiles from the cold war era and in the Falklands war. Former employees are often on hand to give guided tours and answer any technical questions concerning rockets and propellants.

The Armoury (one of our most popular attractions). The Armoury is a unique and comprehensive collection of small arms and militaria, acquired by The Royal Gunpowder Mills with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund. The exhibition displays over 200 historic firearms covering the period from the English Civil War to present day conflicts. Volunteer staff are on hand to explain the science, technology and history of the various types of weapons on display which include heavy medium and light machine guns, sub machine guns, manual and self-loading rifles, revolvers and pistols, mortars, rocket launchers and grenades. Visitors are encouraged to handle and explore a variety of historic weapons - this "hands on" experience is one of the many highlights of the attraction.

Film and Exhibition. An award winning film, revealing the history of explosives and how they were produced at the Royal Gunpowder Mills, makes an ideal starting point to understanding the historical and scientific importance of the Royal Gunpowder Mills. The interactive exhibition is the best way to understand the history surrounding the site and the science behind gunpowder. The exhibition area contains a labyrinth of artefacts, displays and interactive video games explaining how gunpowder and later chemical propellants were discovered, refined and manufactured. It brings both the site, and the people who worked there, alive and allows visitors to understand the buildings and processes they can explore around the 170 acre site.

Women at War Over 3000 women worked at ‘The Powder Mills’ during the war. This is a fascinating photographic display highlighting the vital and varied role women played. This exhibition celebrates the women who worked in the war industries during the First World War. Although over 3000 women were employed here in Waltham Abbey, they are not reflected in this exhibit, these photographs depict work at other factories such as Woolwich.

The Royal Gunpowder Mills is grateful to the Imperial War Museum for enabling this project to happen.

Woodland Walks. Take the Nature Walk trail and perhaps detect some of the amazing wildlife that live here - don't miss the Wildlife Tower for lots more information. The Nature Walk will highlight many of the areas on the site concerned with gunpowder and cordite manufacture and identify the buildings around the site. Our visitors are constantly amazed at the abundance and variety in our woodlands.



  • Accessible Lift - All the publically accessible buildings on the site are ground floor accept the main exhibition building where there is an accessible lift.
  • All Areas Accessible to Disabled Visitors - All the publically accessible buildings on the site are ground floor accept the main exhibition building where there is an accessible lift. As this is a heritage site, there is some uneven ground but most areas and buildings are wheel chair accessible as is the Land Train which conducts guided tours of the whole site.
  • Disabled Parking
  • Disabled persons toilet
  • Parking Areas for Disabled Visitors
  • Ramp / Level Access
  • Wheelchair user accessible - All the publically accessible buildings on the site are ground floor accept the main exhibition building where there is an accessible lift. As this is a heritage site, there is some uneven ground but most areas and buildings are wheel chair accessible as is the Land Train which conducts guided tours of the whole site.

Attraction Facilities

  • Groups Accepted


  • Cafe
  • Catering for groups
  • Catering Provided
  • On-Site cafe/restaurant
  • Outdoor eating area
  • Picnic area
  • Picnic Site

Children & Infants

  • Family Friendly, Children Welcome
  • Outdoor children’s play area

Establishment Features

  • All weather attraction - Although we hold special events which take place outdoors, our main exhibitions are under cover and the site can be visited via our covered land train or military truck experience.
  • Guided tours
  • Guided tours by arrangement - Visitors who have a specific interest in a particular aspect of the history or processes or items exhibited at the Royal Gunpowder Mills, can arrange to have a volunteer guide with relevant knowledge available when they visit. This is by arrangement and dependant on the relevant expertise being available.
  • Marquee Space Available
  • Open on bank holidays
  • Special Opening for Groups by Arrangement
  • Team / Corporate Activities

Parking & Transport

  • Bus stop within walking distance
  • Coach parking
  • Free parking
  • On Site Car Parking
  • On site parking
  • Parking (free)
  • Secure cycle parking - The car park includes an open, but covered cycle parking area.

Provider Preferences

  • Countryside Setting
  • Forest Location - The large site includes unique Alder plantation and associated wildlife. The whole site can be visited by the Land Train or Military Truck Experience.
  • In town/city centre - The site is on the outskirts of Waltham abbey, itself a historic market town.
  • Indoor Attraction - The main exhibition, armoury and rocket collection, plus Professor Nitrates Mad Lab are all indoors.
  • Outdoor Attraction - The Royal Gunpowder Mills is a very large unspoilt site with areas designated of special scientific interest (SSIs). The dangerous nature of gunpowder manufacture, and the later chemical explosives, made it sensible to space buildings apart. So the industrial processes can be explored within a natural environment. Trees were allowed to flourish between the buildings as they provided an additional safety barrier should an explosion occur in a building, and canals link all parts of the site.

Specialist Features

  • Cyclists welcome
  • Educational Groups - The Royal Gunpowder Mills has a dedicated education team and regularly delivers a range of programmes for local schools.
  • Family Fun
  • Marketed Towards Children - Children love Professor Nitrates Mad Lab shows.
  • Marketed Towards Families
  • Marketed Towards Senior Citizens
  • Marketed towards student/youth
  • Marketed Towards Students / Youth

Tours and Demonstrations

  • Demonstrations Given
  • Educational Visits Accepted - The Royal Gunpowder Mills has a dedicated education team and regularly delivers a range of programmes for local schools.
  • Guided Tours Available for Groups
  • Guided Tours Available for Individuals - The Royal Gunpowder Mills is lucky to have an army of knowledgeable volunteers who can answer technical (and not so technical) questions and bring the past and processes alive. Some of the volunteers are past employees. The land train tours of the site include guides who explain the history of the site, its buildings and the processes which went on there.

Map & Directions

Road Directions

The Royal Gunpowder Mills is located in Beaulieu Drive, off Highbridge Street (at traffic lights and opposite McDonalds), a ten minute walk from the centre of Waltham Abbey. The entrance is at top north end of Beaulieu Drive.

There is free parking 

From J26 of M25, take A121 to Waltham Abbey; or from J25 of M25 go to Waltham Cross and then A121.

Public Transport Directions

By Bus 

The site is just a 10 minute walk from Waltham Abbey Town Centre.

Nearest bus stops in Highbridge Street are served by the following local buses:

21, 212, 213, 240, 250, 251, 255, 505, 517.

By Rail

Nearest station is Waltham Cross, connecting London Liverpool Street or Tottenham Hale underground (Victoria Line) to/from Cheshunt/Broxbourne/Hertford East.

We are a 25 minute walk east from the station.

You may also take a bus or a cab (office at station).

The Royal Gunpowder Mills

Type:Heritage / Visitor Centre

Beaulieu Drive, Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 1JY

Tel: 01992 707370

Fax: 01992 707372

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