A MEMORIAL stone has been unveiled during a poignant service at the site of a devastating factory blast that killed ten people.

The 1931 'Great Explosion' at the Royal Navy Cordite Factory was so violent, the blast wave reportedly knocked people off their feet up to two miles away.

Seventeen other workers were injured and homes one mile from the factory sustained structural damage.

The Purbeck stone memorial was unveiled close to the exact spot where 1,500lbs of nitroglycerine exploded at 10.34am, 84 years ago.

It commemorates all those who lost their lives at the factory during the production of cordite for the guns of the Royal Navy.

As well as the ten killed in 1931, the memorial also carries ten other names of workers killed in accidents during the factory's operational lifetime, 1915-1957.

Holton Heath Memorial Group members Rod Hughes, Geoff Charman and his wife Jill - whose grandfather was killed in the 1931 explosion - have worked to make the memorial a reality.

Mrs Charman recalled how her grandmother would often talk about the tragedy. "I was very close to my grandmother," she added .

"So I know quite a lot about what happened at the explosion and how things went.

"This memorial not only stands in place to those who died in 1931, but all those who died in the course of duty while working here."

The service, attended by relatives of former RNCF workers, included standard bearers, the Last Post and a two-minute silence.

Rev Canon Jean deGaris said: "It is very moving to be here. Some of the victims from the explosion are buried in our churchyard at Lychett Minster."

Meanwhile, Geoff Charman, of the Holton Heath Memorial Group, explained: "The memorial came about because there was a stone somewhere on the estate that we saw many years ago, but when we came to look for it recently we couldn't find it.

"The memorial is for all those died or injured working at Holton Heath. The more we dug into the records, the more we found had been killed."

Speaking to the 40-strong crowd that had gathered at the service, Mr Charman also explained how hundreds of women once worked at the site.

"A large part of the production included the use of acid," he added. "A lot of these women suffered acid burns."

Rod Hughes asked people to reflect upon those who were left after the explosion, especially relatives and other employees.

He said: "The Royal Navy Cordite Factory was not simply a place, or merely a factory of stone and wood, but a community. Close knit by common goals and purpose. Embodied in this stone is the story of that community."