At this year’s festival we are very excited to have created a scale section of a First World War trench. Built by a team of experts and local volunteers, and using authentic methods and materials, official period manuals, as well as drawing upon the testimonies of those who built and fought in them, this will be as close a representation of what a First World War trench was like as is possible.
What has been created has been truly remarkable but due to necessarily strict rules concerning health and safety, we are not able to put either our living historians or the general public into the trench itself whilst at the same time remaining true to our aims of creating something truly authentic in terms of scale, proportions, and building techniques.
After some deliberation, we have decided to maintain the trench as intended. This makes it the most authentic section of trench in existence. What’s more, the public will still be able to see this unique representation of a front-line trench section from 1916. We have, however, had to change our original plan, although we are pleased to say we have found a solution that we think will still offer the public a truly new and exciting experience for this hundredth anniversary year of the Battles of the Somme and Verdun.
You will enter an above-ground trench built especially for the festival, where you will witness both French and British troops recreating a scenario from before and during the Battle of the Somme. From this immersive ‘in the moment’ experience, you will then continue down a ‘Sunken Road’ towards our recreated trench.
The scenario will be the summer of 1919; you will become one of the hundreds of thousands of visitors who flocked to France and Belgium to see where so manyn men had fought and died. The trench will be deserted, left as it had been in November 1918. A trail will take you around it and over foot bridges across the trench system. You will pass communication trenches, dug-outs, with the old trench signs still in place; you will pass shell holes, wire and no man’s land, giving you a unique opportunity to see what a trench of the Western Front looked like.
Also featured as part of the Trench Experience will be an encampment, period vehicles, and displays.