Norfolk’s lost First World War landscapes revealed
PUBLISHED: 11:16 08 October 2014 | UPDATED: 11:16 08 October 2014
A century on from the start of the First World War, a series of talks is to bring to life Norfolk’s often overlooked and lost wartime landscape features through fascinating wartime aerial photographs and archaeological insights.
The talks, taking place in libraries across the county throughout October and November, will look at the impact the Great War had on the Norfolk landscape, both at the time, and today, and how Norfolk became an important part of the defence of Britain.
Councillor Brian Watkins, Norfolk County Council’s champion for the historic environment, said: “To many people it may feel like the war happened far away from Norfolk but our county played a key role with not only Britain’s largest First World War aerodrome at Narborough covering 900 acres, but also two experimental flying stations at Great Yarmouth, and Pulham - famous for the airships known as ‘Pulham Pigs’.
“Often little if anything can be seen of these once crucial sites, but these talks will help people to look with fresh eyes at the World War One history on their doorstep.”
Claire Bradshaw, Norfolk County Council community archaeologist, who is giving the talks, said: “There is still much that people can see today reminding us of such a tumultuous time just a century ago. We’ll look at wartime features in the local area and how to find them; as well as how to spot those traces which have been largely swept away by the passage of time.
Narborough was perhaps the most significant of many Norfolk airfields and the country’s largest.
Originally a Royal Naval Air Service site, the field of 998 acres - vast by the standards of the day - was taken over by the Royal Flying Crops in 1916 and was developed as a major training station, with a satellite ground at nearby Marham.
“I’ll be talking about the development of aerial photography, Britain’s first military landing ground at Snarehill, near Thetford, Britain’s largest airfield at Narborough, and Norfolk’s history of experimental flying.
“And we’ll also be looking at the First World War’s impact on manufacturing, non-military buildings and landscapes, and what some of this means for archaeology.”
One First World War feature that can still be seen today is the practice trenches dug on the Winterton dunes by troops training to go to the front lines. There are several examples of these practice trenches in Norfolk, mostly close to airfields, with those near to the coast often used for defensive purposes.
Tickets are £2 per person and need to be booked in advance by calling individual libraries to reserve a place. Each talk lasts 50 minutes.
A former cavalry training are at Mousehold Heath was converted into an aerodrome, where aircraft built in the city were passed over to the military.
Talks will be held at Watton Library at 2pm on Thursday, October 9; Swaffham Library at 2pm on Wednesday, October 15; Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library at 12.30pm on Wednesday, October 22; Stalham Library at 6pm on Thursday, October 23; King’s Lynn Library at 10am on Thursday, November 6; Hunstanton Library at 2pm on Thursday, November 6; Fakenham Library at 2pm on Wednesday, November 12; Holt Library at 10am on Thursday, November 13; Wroxham Library at 6pm on Thursday, November 13; Downham Market Library at 2pm on Monday, November 17; Dereham Library at 4pm on Thursday, November 20; Gaywood Library at 2pm on Wednesday, November 26 and Loddon Library at 3pm on Friday, November 28.
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