FROM the outside there is little to distinguish the TNT warehouse in South Derbyshire from any of the other grey and lifeless buildings surrounding it.
However, once inside visitors are greeted with a sight reminiscent of a scene from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The high-security facility, based in William Nadin Way, Swadlincote, is filled as far as the eye can see with more than 12 million records for public and private sector clients, including the police and NHS, as well as military records from the RAF and the Navy.
The site made national news recently after a row erupted involving the MoD and secrecy campaigners after it was revealed files that should have been declassified had not been.
Officials say they are processing them as quickly as they are able.
It is believed documents stored there, if laid end to end, would stretch 120 miles – the distance from Swadlincote to London.
Files with a security classification of ‘secret’ are held at the site, with others of a higher security classification stored at the Royal Navy base in Portsmouth.
Some of the files will detail military campaigns, equipment development and purchases, special forces operation, major re-organisations of the armed forces and military responses to civil emergencies.
It has been described in the past by Ministry of Defence (MoD) archivists as looking like ‘the final scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark’, in which box after box can be seen stretching into the distance.
The TNT Archive Services facility was officially opened by former South Derbyshire MP Mark Todd in 2004 and created around 50 jobs in the town.
It is believed to have cost around £11 million and was funded as part of a partnership involving the MoD and TNT.
The facility was originally built to accommodate a contract won by delivery giant TNT, a 25-year deal with the MoD to store and manage millions of government files.
In 2009, TNT Archive Services undertook a 50,000 sq ft extension at its Swadlincote centre to double storage capacity.