Before the Nineteenth Century, Corsham was a thriving town centered around the wool industry. The arrival of the Great Western Railway and specifically the opening of Brunel’s Box Tunnel in 1841 saw a transformation of the local economy and an enduring pattern of development.
During the excavation of the Box Tunnel the renowned engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, discovered a rich crop of green oolitic limestone. Known today as Bath Stone it became synonymous with the building of the intricate architecture of the Georgian period. Over the next 70 years the stone mines in Corsham employed over 2,500 people and extended to over 5 million square metres.
At the end of the First World War part of the mines were repurposed to become the home to the Central Munitions Storage Facility and in 1939 other parts of the mines were transformed into shadow factories to support the Second World War.
In the early 1950s and as the Cold War started the underground became part of the UK’s national critical infrastructure. As the site for Harold Macmillan’s emergency seat of government, parts of the mines were converted into a secret underground city to house over 2,500 civil servants in the event of nuclear war.
In 2010 the Ministry of Defence consolidated core communications and ICT activities onto a single site in Corsham to form the Global Operations and Security Control Centre.
Ark Data Centre’s Spring Park Campus, a site that lies adjacent to the MoD, is now home for the UK’s largest and most advanced, sustainable, digital infrastructure campus extending to over 36 acres and supporting 10,000 square metres of accommodation.