Royal Gunpowder Mills

Explore 170 acres of secret history at Royal Gunpowder Mills


Discover 300 years of explosive history through film, exhibitions and interactive displays at the Royal Gunpowder Mills in Waltham Abbey. Find out how gunpowder came to Britain, how the famous bouncing bomb was developed and the vital role the Gunpowder Mills played in both World Wars. Find out how in later years the site became a top secret research facility, more secret than MI5! With interactive exhibitions, children’s activities, natural woodland and an extensive special events programme including spitfire flyovers and medieval jousting, the Secret Island-Royal Gunpowder Mills has something to offer everyone and makes for a different family day out.

Great for families

Experimental fun

Children and adults alike will love Professor Nitrate’s Mad Lab, where visitors can get to grips with interactive experiments and hands-on activities. Marvel at the crazy experiments the Professor gets to grips with in his mad science shows and get ready to put your hand up, as he may need a volunteer lab rat! Be sure to have a go on the new Test Range, where you can test your skill for things you can launch, catapult, shoot and fire. The Test Range’s rockets, rocket cars and air soft rifles let you discover what flies furthest, soars highest, travels fastest and most reliably finds its target. 

Visit the interactive Main Exhibition and Film to learn all about the history of gunpowder production, then explore The Armoury which displays over 200 historic firearms covering the periods from the English Civil War to present day conflicts. Visitors are encouraged to handle and inspect a variety of historic weapons, making for a great, hands-on exhibition.

After the war, the site was less about how bullets were fired and became more of a secret research facility, finding out how to launch satellites and propel all kinds of non-nuclear objects further and more accurately.  Explore the Rocket Vault to find out more about this secret period in the site’s history.

Outdoor excitement

Military Truck ride

Nature lovers will be in their element in the acres of natural woodland, home to plenty of wildlife including the resident fallow deer. Why not take a Military Truck ride or guided Land Train Tour for the chance to the chance to see areas of the site which are normally restricted, giving you the unique opportunity to see the remains of a number of buildings which were vital to the production of gunpowder on the site.  (There is a small additional charge for tours.)

For more to see and do you can also check out Visit Epping Forest's website


Contact us

Secret-Island Royal Gunpowder Mills

Beaulieu Drive
Waltham Abbey
Essex EN9 1JY

01992 707370


Add this


LV social media


Get social


Cookies are used on this website to ensure that we give you the best experience possible.
By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies. Information on our use of cookies.