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History of Gorse Covert Mounds

A century ago the site was an expanse of flat bog, and remnants of this can still be seen in Pestfurlong Moss, a small, linked woodland area also owned by the Trust.

During the Second World War much of it was drained for the building of Risley Royal Ordnance Factory. The huge factory employed 30,000 workers, mainly women, who produced over a million mines and 500,000 high explosive shells. There were frequent explosions at the factory and several workers were killed, while others lost limbs. Detonator assembly was particularly risky and the women who did this were known as the Suicide Group.

The factory was demolished in the 1960s and mounds formed from the spoil heaps. The site was landscaped in the 1970s to create the mix of woodland, ponds and meadows seen today. In 2009, the Friends of Gorse Covert Mounds was formed to link the site with the local community as part of the Trust’s Woodland Communities Project. The aim of this was to promote use of the site and help conserve its wildlife.