A visit to GKN Shadow Factory: Video

GKN Shadow FactoryAfter walking around with a flip cam in Belmont Row I decided to try out a go pro and take another visit to the GKN factory.

Thankfully having a headcam meant that there was a smaller chance of tripping over some debris and shredding my hands, maybe they could work that in to their marketing somehow.

Anyway the weather was amazing and I took a good look around. I still haven’t managed to find the tunnel system but I’ll keep looking and maybe find some other urban explorers who I could join.

I have to say this was one of my favourite visits and am really happy that I can share it with you.

GKN Shadow Factory

A visit to GKN Shadow Factory

GKN Shadow Factory

Walking in to the Shadow Factory site you are initially greeted to a wide vista. Several buildings surround you which lie under the gaze of residential tower blocks in the distance. Oil tars the floor and materials usually seen on a construction site are scattered everywhere. Whether this is an image of its past or future remains to be seen.


Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds’ origins go back over 250 years as a small ironworks in Dowlais, South Wales. The company was bourne from the merger between the Birmingham screw manufacturer Nettlefolds and Guest, Keen & Co in 1902. This made it the largest employer in the town.

By the outbreak of the First World War the company produced over half the screws and about a quarter of the nuts and bolts made in the country.

The building itself was originally an Imperial Mill, which was converted for the manufacture of nuts and bolts. The only evidence of this are the bolts scattered among the debris and vegetation which is slowly trying to reclaim the land.

GKN Shadow Factory

Further exploring

My favourite thing about abandoned buildings is the small stories you begin to imagine as you stumble across little sites. Things which are ordinary in everyday life stand out amongst destruction and decay.

GKN Shadow Factory

GKN Shadow Factory

I spent quite a while in the toilets for the same reason. Not a sentence I thought I would ever say but it was almost a sombre experience. The more ordinary the room, the greater the disparity between what it was and what it currently is.

GKN Shadow Factory

GKN Shadow Factory

A building of interest

One building in particular fascinated me. It stands out from the others as one which would be rich with stories and images.

GKN Shadow Factory

Unfortunately it does not seem to be accessible through ‘non-traditional’ means. There is the possibility that I can gain access in the future, having called the demolition company. Currently the building and the site are full of asbestos and was told January would be the earliest point for a visit. A scary thing to hear after having visited! In future a breathing mask, proper boots and flashlight are in order!

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I have also made a video of the factory.