Porton Down

Album: Forward Into The Abyss (2008)
  • songfacts ®
  • The name Porton Down has achieved a certain amount of notoriety in Britain as a top secret centre where unethical and at times sinister germ warfare experiments are performed. According to its official historian G.B. Carter in Porton Down: A Brief History, work started at Porton in March 1916 in response to the German use of chemical warfare the previous year. It expanded quickly, but staffing levels were reduced drastically after the Armistice, this though was short lived, and by the late 1930s, offensive chemical warfare research and development and the production of war reserve stocks of chemical warfare agents by the chemical industry was authorised by the Cabinet.
    In May 1953, volunteer serviceman Ronald Maddison died after a controlled exposure to the deadly Sarin nerve gas. An inquest at the time returned a verdict of death by misadventure, but following a decades' long campaign by other volunteers (and victims), a second inquest was opened on May 5, 2004, and on November 15 it was ruled that Aircraftman Maddison had been killed unlawfully.
  • "Porton Down (Torture Town)", "Porton Down Torture Town" or simply "Porton Down" was written by Andy Xport back in the 1980s before the full story of medical experiments on human volunteers came out. At that time, it was more notorious for animal experiments - animals of course do not volunteer.
    In a February 2010 interview with this website, Andy said, "most of the lyrics were taken from a pamphlet on Porton Down at the time!" He added he was thinking of re-recording the track sometime with an extra verse about human experimentation now that the full truth has come out.
  • "Porton Down" was issued on the cassette Forward Into The Abyss and credited to Man's Hate, but it was, in effect, a solo recording, although later he acquired the services of a drummer. It was said of Elvis Presley that he could sing the telephone directory. Andy Xport is no Elvis, yet here he is basically singing an anti-vivisection leaflet. And, incredibly it works. This is a really inspired piece of music, and far superior to the earlier Peter Hamill track of the same name. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 3
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