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First World War Commemoration



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First World War Scoping Study

With the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War approaching a scoping study was carried out in 2013 to identify the physical traces of that period in mid and north-east Wales. The study was an attempt to understand the size and nature of the likely surviving resource of buildings, sites and structures built or taken over for use during the First World War. The project was carried out by CPAT and funded through grant-aid from Cadw as part of a pan-Wales project in preparation for further targeted work during the period of the centenary of the war.

Desk-based assessment utilised Historic Environment Record (HER) data, National Monuments Record (NMR) (and Coflein) data, secondary sources, historic Ordnance Survey mapping, Britain from Above imagery, Defence of Britain project data and records held in local record offices to begin to assemble a body of information with which to enhance the Historic Environment Record for sites connected to the First World War.

The war eventually impacted on all aspects of life in the region; domestic, civic, commercial, agricultural, industrial and commemorative, but military defence and fortification made the biggest changes to the landscape of mid and north-east Wales. This involved the construction of site-types never before seen in the region, such as the airfield at Sealand in Flintshire. The largest army camp in Wales up to that time, was built at Kinmel Park, Denbighshire; large areas of land were requisitioned for training areas, such as at Bodelwyddan Castle Park and one of the first nine Prisoner of War and internee camps established in the British Isles was at Queensferry, Flintshire.

The results suggest that the archaeological footprint of the war is significant, though under-represented in the archaeological record and that some of the surviving traces are of national importance, yet threatened by neglect and development. Recommendations for further work on buildings and other sites associated with the First World War in the Clwyd-Powys region were made for study in subsequent years. Subjects include the range of camps and training areas, firing ranges, barracks and drill halls, factories and war memorials.

Download CPAT's First World War Scoping Study project report.

Postcard by Photochrom of London

The Central Pavilion at Kinmel Park Camp. A First World War era postcard by Photochrom of London

Bodelwyddan Castle Park Trenches & Kinmel Park Camp Scoping Study

This was the first stage of what we hope will be an ambitious project running throughout the period of the centenary of the First World War. It focussed on a complex of military practice trenches extending over several hectares of parkland in Bodelwyddan Castle Park and Kinmel Park Camp, near Rhyl, constructed in late 1914 and at the time the largest army camp in Wales. The project was carried out by CPAT and funded through grant-aid from Cadw as part of a pan-Wales project on 20th century military remains.

The aims of the scoping study were to identify the various sources of information available about the trenches and nearby camp, and to set the information gathered about the military use of the land into the context of the general history of the two parks. To aid the future development of the project outline proposals, together with lists of sources, key stakeholders, and potential partners were also collected and presented in the report.

CPAT has secured grant aid from Cadw for a project in 2014-15 that will focus on camps and training areas in the Clwyd-Powys region. Further desk-based research will be undertaken using archival sources and a programme of field assessment is intended to examine the trenches at Bodelwyddan.

Download CPAT's Bodelwyddan Castle Park Trenches & Kinmel Park Camp Scoping Study project report.

Bodelwyddan Castle Park Trenches Geophysics and Excavation

Four separate areas were examined using geophysics with the aim of determining the presence or absence of continuations of the visible trench system. An excavation trench was dug just outside the area of the Scheduled Ancient Monument, at the point where a fire trench met a communications trench, in order to ascertain their original depths and profiles, and to recover artefacts with which to establish their dates of construction and use.

The excavation team was aided by several volunteers, including Maj.(Retd.) Andy Hawkins (chairman of The Durand Group) who was also responsible for a specialist site risk assessment prepared in case of the discovery of unexploded ordnance.

Download CPAT's Bodelwyddan Castle Park Trenches Geophysics and Excavation project report.

Postcard of men in camp at Llangammarch

Men enjoying life in camp at Llangammarch. Postcard courtesy of Ann Markwick

First World War Camps and Training Areas

A study was undertaken to identify camps and training areas associated with the First World War in east and north-east Wales and to assess their survival. Camps of the regular army and volunteer Yeomanry and Territorial units constructed and used in the run up to the outbreak of the war, during hostilities, or in their aftermath were researched.

The majority of those revealed through documentary research proved to be temporary, tented camps for pre-First World War summer camps of the local voluntary Yeomanry and Territorial units, but despite this several contemporary postcards depicting life in camp have survived.

In contrast to the above at least two of the camps investigated, those at Kinmel Park and Cwm Gwdi near Brecon had a much longer existence, with timber buildings constructed on brick and concrete bases and a more developed infrastructure. Traces of the first phase of Kinmel Park Camp are thought to survive.

Download CPAT's First World War Camps and Training Areas project report.

Kerry WWI PoW camp

Contemporary photograph of part of Kerry Prisoner of War camp. Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru/National Library of Wales via Casgliad y Werin Cymru/People’s Collection Wales

First World War Prisoner of War Camps

From 1917, increasingly large numbers of prisoners of war needed to be accommodated and by 1918 about 164,000 were held in the United Kingdom. Unsuprisingly perhaps, given the region's relative remoteness, several prisoner of war camps of the First World War were established in east and north-east Wales.

Using primary records held at The National Archives, newspaper archives available online via the National Library of Wales and contributions by members of the public, it has been possible to identify 30 locations used to hold German prisoners of war during and immediately after the First World War and to understand the way the system of camps was organised.

For the majority of camps, exact sites have been located, and although no in situ remains survive, details have been added to the regional Historic Environment Record to assist with site management in the future.

Download CPAT's First World War Prisoner of War Camps project report.

Bye-laws of Rhyl Rifle Range

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru/National Library of Wales via Casgliad y Werin Cymru/People’s Collection Wales

First World War Firing Ranges of North-east Wales

In the mid to late 19th century rifle ranges were set up for training members of the local militias, such as the Denbighshire Volunteers, which after the ‘Haldane Reforms’ of 1908 became the Territorial Force. Rifle ranges also formed part of the infrastructure at permanent army barracks and miniature or tube ranges were sometimes built to accompany drill halls in the early 20th century. While some of these early ranges fell out of use before the end of the 19th century others were retained and were used for training troops destined for the Boer Wars and later the First World War. In addition, a small number of new ranges were constructed on the orders of the War Office to train the huge influx of volunteers signing up in 1914 and 1915.

The main element of this project was a study of documentary sources. Historic Ordnance Survey maps proved useful, but also primary records held at county archives, newspaper archives available online via the National Library of Wales, Coflein data and secondary sources, it has been possible to identify four firing ranges constructed specifically for use during the First World War, but also several others which we can be reasonably confident were utilised during that conflict.

The component elements of firing ranges of this era are described and the information discovered about each individual range in north-east Wales (eastern Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham) is presented, along with a map extract. Surprisingly, one or two contemporary photographs have also survived and examples of these are included.

Download CPAT's First World War Firing Ranges of North-east Wales project report.

Click here for more about the pan-Wales project.


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