Royal Gunpowder Mills

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Set in 170 acres of natural parkland and boasting 20 buildings of major historic importance, the site mixes fascinating history, exciting science and beautiful surroundings to produce a magical day out for all the family. Established in the 17th century and acquired by the Crown in 1787, the Royal Gunpowder Mills has a very important place in both the history of Great Britain and of its home town of Waltham Abbey.

Venue Type:

Science centre, Museum

Opening hours

Please see website for details.

Admission charges

Please see website for details.


  • English Heritage
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
a photograph showing he contents of a 1940s shop

1940s Exhibition

  • 1 January 0200 — 1 January 2020 *on now

Explore war-time life with reconstructions from the 1940s. Experience the sights and sounds as you step inside an Anderson air-raid shelter, peek into a war-time kitchen, and toy shop, and browse in a 1940s general store.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly
Summer Sundays

Summer Sundays at the Royal Gunpowder Mills

  • 9 June — 21 July 2019 *on now

With a special theme each week – Come and enjoy a Sunday at the Royal Gunpowder Mills at a great value price! Special Event Season Tickets can be used. What’s the theme? Head for our website to find out!

Set in 170 acres of extraordinary landscape, this fascinating place chronicles the history of gunpowder and later explosives and propellants as well as Cold War secret research and rocketry.

For families we have the fantastic Mad Lab show delighting children of all ages, where Professor Nitrate creates chaos with bangs, crashes and fizzes! Join the Professor’s assistant each Sunday and get hands-on with the activity of the day.

For all visitors The Royal Gunpowder Mills has over 300 years of history to explore, in our Museum and other exhibitions. Tour our acclaimed Armoury with volunteers who can tell all about this comprehensive collection of firearms from the Civil War onwards. Learn in the Rocket Vault about the rocketry development that went on here, often from scientists who used to work here on top secret research.

For a nominal fee take the Land Train tour with experienced guides taking you to hidden parts of the site, which is a Scheduled Monument and an Site of Special Scientific Interest, rich in history and wildlife habitats. Watch out for deer and other wildlife! And throughout the day, the Gunpowder Café serves great food.

Tickets can be purchase on the day for through our Eventbrite page. Or use your 12-month Season Ticket! If you decide on the day you’d like one, go back to the ticket pod to be issued your Season Ticket and your admission for that day is free! And don’t forget to consider Gift Aiding any ticket.

Please note that due to wildlife protection, no animals are allowed onsite, with the exception of certified Assistance Dogs.

Suitable for

  • Any age
Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.

Professor Nitrate's Test Zone

  • 28 — 31 July 2019
  • 4 — 7 August 2019
  • 11 — 14 August 2019
  • 18 — 21 August 2019
  • 25 — 28 August 2019

Professor Nitrate is back for a summer full of explosive fun at the Royal Gunpowder Mills come rain or shine! Open Every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday between July 28 and August 28, the Professor ready’s our “Test Zone” for all the family to enjoy.

The Mad Lab - home to the ever eccentric Professor Nitrate and their assistants has a variety of brand new interactive hands on experiments and activities for you all to try out – some you can even take home with you! Plus not to be missed science shows throughout the day which will have the whole family getting experimental!

The creative zone is where you can stimulate your artistic side by painting your own canvas* and designing your own t-shirt*, and you can also have lots of fun drawing, gluing and getting messy.

The Royal Gunpowder Mills has a Rocket Vault with guides who were rocket scientists when the site was a top secret research centre, so it’s only right we delve into rockets in the Test Zone where you can Make and launch your very own Air Powered Rocket, Blast off Rail Rockets and create your own bespoke Rocket using whacky materials!

On top, visit our exhibition, learn about our history, view a large collection of weaponry in our armoury and explore our beautiful site of unique architecture and nature on a tractor trailer guided tour.

We also have a great café on site, a gift shop and a great adventure playground with indoor and outdoor picnic areas.

A day out at the Royal Gunpowder Mills ignites the imagination of all the family – Voted Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence five years running, a day out at the Royal Gunpowder Mills is one you won’t experience elsewhere.

Professor Nitrate’s Test Zone takes place every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday between July 28 and August 28. Tickets can be purchased on the door or through our Eventbrite page. Visit our website for more information including what’s on day to day and timings for each activity. Our site opens at 10am and closes at 5pm. Follow us on social media @gunpowdermills on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram for more information as we get closer to this event.

*T Shirt Printing & Painting your own Canvas is at a cost of £1.50 per child – combine both activities for £2.50 per person.

This event qualifies as a "Special Event" as part of the Royal Gunpowder Mills Season Ticket.

Suitable for

  • 0-4
  • 7-10
  • 14-15
  • 5-6
  • 11-13


£10.50 - Adults
£9.00 - Concessions
£8.50 - Children

A great variety of family tickets are also available.


Royal Gunpowder Mills
Beaulieu Drive
Waltham Abbey



General enquiries



01992 707370

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.