Glasgow & West Scotland

WW1 trenches to be reconstructed in Pollok Park

A trench in the Somme Image copyright Imperial War Museum

Allied and German trench systems from World War One are to be reconstructed in a Glasgow park.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has provided £99,600 to create the "Digging In" trenches in Pollok Country Park.

Work will begin in August and the trenches will be open to the public on 19 September during Doors Open Week.

A programme of public events and school visits, where there will be hands-on learning activities and history events, will be held until November 2018.

The reconstructions will be informed by field manuals that were issued to troops, as well as soldiers' diaries and evidence from excavations on the Western Front.

'Visceral insight'

Their location in Pollok Country Park will highlight the role of Pollok House in World War One, from its use as an auxiliary hospital for convalescing soldiers to the memorial commemorating the 58 people from the estate who served in the conflict.

The programme of events aim to convey how soldiers managed to survive in the hostile environment of the Western Front and the conflict's impact on communities on the Home Front.

Image copyright Centre for Battlefield Archaeology
Image caption The reconstructions will be informed by evidence from excavations on the Western Front
Image copyright Centre for Battlefield Archaeology
Image caption Eye pieces from a gas mask and rifle bullets excavated from Somme trenches
Image copyright Centre for Battlefield Archaeology
Image caption Shovel recovered from a British dugout near Ypres, Flanders

The trenches will also act as a hub for learning about the war's impact on mental health, the role of women, advances in medicine, technology, aerial photography and mapping, influences on contemporary art and literature, and the origins of the Forestry Commission.

The work is being carried out through a partnership between Northlight Heritage, Glasgow City Council, the University of Glasgow and Stewart's Melville College.

'Huge impact'

Dr Tony Pollard, director of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at the University of Glasgow, said: "As a conflict archaeologist who has excavated trenches and graves on the Western Front, I know it is impossible to step back in time and fully appreciate what it was like to have been there during the Great War.

"But I am really looking forward to Digging In, and applying what I have learned in helping to create a unique learning environment, within which it will be possible for children and adults alike to get a visceral insight into the semi-subterranean world in which soldiers lived and in so many cases died."

Image copyright Elliott Simpson
Image caption Pollok House was used as an auxiliary hospital for convalescing soldiers

Glasgow's Lord Provost Sadie Docherty said: "Digging In is destined to become a huge attraction because we will be recreating, as authentically as possible, the incredibly difficult conditions our military had to endure.

"I'm confident it will have a huge impact on everyone who visits and help highlight the futility of war. Above all, I want as many people as possible to reflect, 100 years later, on the courage and suffering of everyone affected by the conflict.

"Countless stories of personal sacrifice and trauma punctuate the period. It's important we do not forget the profound effect the Great War had on the world."

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