This film is part of Free

Cooke's Explosives Limited - an account of explosives manufacture in Penrhyndeudraeth

Comprehensive but unedited footage of Cooke’s works where cigarettes and matches are confiscated from employees on arrival in order to avoid unintended explosions.

Promotional 1960 43 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales


Extensive, although unedited, footage of processes at Cooke’s works in Penrhyndeudraeth where salt, ammonium nitrate and glycerine were combined to produce explosives for use in coal mines, mainly, but also for munitions during WWII. Distributing supplies to depots in Derby, Staffordshire, Cumbria and Cornwall the Cooke’s lorries would cover 25,000 miles – the circumference of the world – every week.

Ralph T Cooke inherited a grocery store in the mining village of Annfield Plain, Durham, from his father. He sold it and set up a business selling mine explosives. As there were many different products on the market often lacking significant testing information, and testing them himself was not without its risks, he decided to set up as a manufacturer as well as a supplier and bought the Penrhyndeudraeth factory in 1921. After a disastrous explosion in 1928, Cooke enlisted the support of his major competitor, ICI, who bought shares in the company, contributed technical expertise and bought the business when he retired in 1958 aged 78. The works – including at one time a Male Voice Choir - closed in the 1990s.