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

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The Royal Gunpowder Mills

Beaulieu Drive, Waltham Abbey, Essex EN9 1JY

Video introduction to the site here

The Royal Gunpowder Mills are opening in a different way in 2023. Their regular opening days (Sundays last year) will be replaced by a series of targeted events and activities. Everything needs to be pre-booked so if you’re planning to visit do please check their website to see what’s on when. Read on to find out more about the ways you can experience the Royal Gunpowder Mills in 2023...

What's on at the Royal Gunpowder Mills

In 2023 the site will be opening on the second Saturday of each month. It will also be open on select days for special events including re-enactment events and children's activity workshops.

Dates confirmed so far:

Saturday 13th May 2023 - Second Saturday Opening - Walking Tour

Booking now open - Click here to book

Saturday 10th June 2023 Second Saturday Opening

Details to be announced check their website

Saturday 8th July 2023 - Second Saturday Opening

Details to be announced check their website

Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th July - Special Event - Re-enactment and Living History Event

Details to be announced check their website

Discover why a one-legged stool was a crucial health and safety implement, find out how the factory workforce doubled during WW1 as women came to work at the Royal Gunpowder Mills, and learn about the site's final phase as a top-secret Explosives Research and Development Establishment. 

You will see the remains of buildings used in the production of explosives including the Grand Nitrator (where nitroglycerine was manufactured), Newton’s Pool used for the testing of underwater explosives including the explosives used in the Dambusters' “bouncing bomb” and our iconic Press House with waterwheel where one of the most dangerous processes on site took place. 

Your ticket includes:

Tea, coffee and biscuits included in the price

Welcome talk and the company of expert guides throughout your visit

Tractor Trailer Guided Tour of the out of bounds areas of our 170 acre site (approx 45 minutes)

Access to an introductory Film (15 mins), Main Exhibition, Armoury, Rocket VaultPowder Boat and early 1900s fire alarm

A ride on The Gunpowder Railway, a narrow gauge railway running roughly 1 km along the perimeter of the Royal Gunpowder Mills site (approx 30 minutes)

Please note that the cafe will not be open but nearby Waltham Abbey has various food outlets to enjoy before or after your visit. There will be no science shows or children's activities at this event. 

Children's activities in 2023

There will be various children's activities in 2023. Tickets will be limited and must be pre-booked. Keep up to date with what's coming up by visiting

More activities in 2023...  

More details of the Royal Gunpowder Mills 2023 opening will follow. On the second Saturday of every month there’ll be a tour, talk or walk. There is a re-enactment weekend planned for 15th and 16th April and a series of smaller related activities over the summer period. See What's On on the website for updates

There will be children’s workshops during school holidays and of course The site's busy schools’ programme runs all year round.

The Royal Gunpowder Mills is happy to take group bookings. If you have or know of a group who would like to organise a visit to us please see their website for more information:

Visit the Royal Gunpowder Mills website to find out more:

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.




  • 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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