The Frith Hill Trench Walk led by Roy Sellstrom BEM

The walking group for the Frith Hill Trench Walk, organised by Surrey Heath Museum for Heritage Open Days, met at Tomlinscote School in Frimley,

Led by Roy Sellstrom BEM, the walk revealed the earth movements and visual signs of the use of the area as a military training area. Frith Hill was a practice area for trench warfare, and the site of a German Prisoner of War camp during the First World War.

In his researches Roy discovered a map of the trenches in Frith Hill. These have now mostly be filled in. It’s fascinating to realise that of the paths in the area, though difficult to recognise, many are on the filled in trenches.

Roy pointed to post World War II trenches, some small and for only two soldiers. He also pointed out a mine crater [see photo below], previously thought be elsewhere, see Remains of Mine Explosions, and read the following report of the event at the time.

“Blackdown Camp, October 1916, Wessex Field Company Royal Engineers: The company moved into an excellent hut-camp, … leaving No.4 section to complete Claycart Bridge. The chief interest at first was the mine that had been made on Frith Hill, some of our men assisting in the tunnelling. It was to be blown up by 5,000lbs of gun cotton, and was the first of three that were to be blown for experiment and training. To make the affair more like an operation at our front line, our company made wire entanglements all about the imaginary ‘No man’s land’ above the charge, and practised the consolidation of the mine craters after seizure by infantry.”

“On the great day , VIP’s arrived, the Sandhurst cadets came over and were shown by us how to consolidate a crater. All the windows for miles around were left open, so as not to be blown in by concussion of the explosion. At the last moment the spectators, numbering several thousand, were moved from ½ to ¾ of a mile away. The guns and trench mortars began to fire blank, machine guns and rifles the same, up went the mine, and attacking parties seized the craters with much cheering and throwing of dummy hand-grenades and bombs, while our Sapper party, under Lt Davidson, started entrenching in the lip of the craters.”

“The actual explosion and upheaval of the mines was most disappointing. The charge had been divided, by order from above, so that two little craters were made instead of one large one. We hardly felt any concussion, heard no noise, and the spectacle was far from alarming. The soil was thrown up about thirty feet, in the form of a plum-pudding, then it subsided through a dense volumes of smoke. So slight was the effect that it was said that parties in a dug-out 300 yards away did not know the charge had been blown under they were told of it by a runner.”

Here are the photos from the walk,

Heritage Open Days in Surrey Heath on Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th September

Excellent work by Surrey Heath Museum for the pleasing improvement in the number, and quality, of Surrey Heath’s Heritage Open Days places and events on 9th and 10th September. Additionally on Thursday 7th and Friday 8th September there’s an opportunity to see behind the scenes of the Museum and be part of the consultation as to how the museum should develop.

To expand the brochure view, click on the upward facing arrow in the right hand corner.

A Heritage Open Day visit to The Prince Consort’s Library, Aldershot

I wonder where you visited over the Heritage Open Days. We’ve been to most of the local places over the years, and some further away [type heritage open days into the search box to view the reports of our past visits].

This year we’ve only managed one heritage Open Day visit. It was to The Prince Consort’s Library in Aldershot [see also Wikipedia entry].

The Grade II listed library, built in 1860, remains very much as it was in Victorian times. Being part of the Army Library service it ‘s not open to the public, except on Heritage Open Days. I know it’s a year away till the next Open Day, but do go. Paul Vickers, the previous Librarian, gave an entertaining talk on the history of the library, and the quirky stories about the early Librarians. Here a few photos, and my video of our visit that also includes brief conversations with the current Librarian, Tim Ward.

A recommendation for Heritage Open Days 8 – 11 September: Wanborough Great Barn

With so many potential places to visit during the four days [8-11th September] of Heritage Open Days it’s a difficult to choose where to visit.

Here’s some help with a suggestion. It’s where we visited yesterday – Wanborough Great Barn – and it’s open on Sat 10th & Sun 11th during the Heritage Open Days.

The barn has an interesting 1,000 year history, told through guides and numerous information boards. Always important, we can report that the tea and cake is excellent. Adjacent to the Barn is Wanborough Manor, whose secret role as a training base for SOE agents in WW2 is told in detail. Also, only yards away is the small St Bartholomew’s Church, which too has a 1,000 years of history – more on this later. I hope you might think it’s wort a visit.

Wanborough Great Barn 300pxWanborough Great Barn interior

Heritage Open Day visit to Army Medical Services Museum at Mytchett

We didn’t need to go far for our Heritage Open Day visit today, only as far as Mytchett, to the Army Medical Services Museum at Keogh Barracks. It’s always a bit of fun to go behind the gate of an Army barracks wearing our visitor passes. I did learn from a curator that Keogh Barracks will increasingly be the home of medical services regiments, and that the museum is likely to remain on site for 7 to 8 years. As we lose the RLC from Deepcut, it’s good that the RAMC will remain. The address of the museum and the barracks is variously given as Aldershot, Ash Vale, and Mytchett – let’s hope they stick with Mytchett, which is in Surrey Heath. [Click on images to enlarge]

Some local Heritage Open Days places to visit this weekend

There are many places to visit this coming Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the national Heritage Open Days.

We’ve been pouring over the attractions on the open days website. Locally there are many places, which we may choose to visit, some of which will be return visits. Here are some of the local ones,