Incredible images reveal reminders of WWI remain etched on the British countryside

Ghosts of the Great War: Incredible images reveal how reminders of WWI remain etched on the British countryside 100 years after the guns fell silent

  • Historic England archaeologists Paul Stamper and Wayne Cocroft have spent four years researching book
  • They visited surviving trench lines, coastal defences and Army camps for Legacies of the First World War
  • They also documented the remnants of munitions factories, airfields and prisoner of war camps

These fascinating photos reveal how reminders of the First World War are still etched into the British countryside 100 years later.  

Historic England archaeologists Paul Stamper and Wayne Cocroft have spent the past four years visiting surviving trench lines, coastal defences and Army camps for a new book, Legacies of the First World War.

They have also documented the remnants of munitions factories, airfields, PoW camps and sound mirrors – 15ft tall concrete constructions placed along the coast to give early warnings of incoming Zeppelins.

Remains of the coastal Godwin Artillery Battery in Easington, North Yorkshire, where this concrete drum housed a 9.2in gun

Remains of the coastal Godwin Artillery Battery in Easington, North Yorkshire, where this concrete drum housed a 9.2in gun

Bull Sand Fort in the Humber Estuary, near Cleethorpes. Due to the difficulties of its construction it was only finished in 1919

Bull Sand Fort in the Humber Estuary, near Cleethorpes. Due to the difficulties of its construction it was only finished in 1919

Marine Station in Dover, Kent, completed in 1914. A million wounded and repatriated troops flowed under its roof in the war

Marine Station in Dover, Kent, completed in 1914. A million wounded and repatriated troops flowed under its roof in the war

Practice trenches are still visible on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, with the front line to the right, and supply trenches running left

Practice trenches are still visible on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, with the front line to the right, and supply trenches running left

A sonar image of German submarine U-8 on the seabed, after being sunk by destroyers off Folkestone, Kent, in March 1914

A sonar image of German submarine U-8 on the seabed, after being sunk by destroyers off Folkestone, Kent, in March 1914

Cleethorpes councillor Joseph Forrester built this concrete air raid shelter after the Zeppelin raids on the town in April 1916

Cleethorpes councillor Joseph Forrester built this concrete air raid shelter after the Zeppelin raids on the town in April 1916

The hulk of an unknown U-Boat at Humble Bee Creek off the Medway in Kent, which has been sitting there for a century

The hulk of an unknown U-Boat at Humble Bee Creek off the Medway in Kent, which has been sitting there for a century

One of the most striking relics of the war is an imposing 200ft wide rifle range target wall built at Burton-on-Trent barracks in Staffordshire in 1914 which bears the scars of bullets fired at it.

Practice trenches dug to help British soldiers prepare for the Western Front are still visible from the sky on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire and Rothbury, Northumberland.

The vast majority of army camps were dismantled after the war after being auctioned off by the Disposals Board.

However, a humble hut that avoided this fate can still be found at Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, where the barracks could hold 40,000 men. The hut’s interior has been reconstructed to show how soldiers’ quarters looked.

A rebuilt barracks hut at Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, where troops were billeted during training

A rebuilt barracks hut at Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, where troops were billeted during training

The interior of the hut at Cannock Chase has been reconstructed to show how soldiers' quarters looked

The interior of the hut at Cannock Chase has been reconstructed to show how soldiers’ quarters looked

Picric acid stores at National Filling Factory No14 in Rotherwas, Herefordshire. The acid was used to make poison gas shells

Picric acid stores at National Filling Factory No14 in Rotherwas, Herefordshire. The acid was used to make poison gas shells

Inside National Filling Factory No14, with its runner beams  for overhead cranes that moved shells around the building

Inside National Filling Factory No14, with its runner beams for overhead cranes that moved shells around the building

Royal Flying Corps airmen's barracks at Netheravon in Wiltshire, which still has buildings surviving from 1913 and 1914

Royal Flying Corps airmen’s barracks at Netheravon in Wiltshire, which still has buildings surviving from 1913 and 1914

Another view of the RFC barracks at Netheravon, showing how reminders of the First World War can still be found in Britain

Another view of the RFC barracks at Netheravon, showing how reminders of the First World War can still be found in Britain

National Machine Gun Factory in Burton-on-Trent - built in 1917 to address the German superiority in machine gun numbers

National Machine Gun Factory in Burton-on-Trent – built in 1917 to address the German superiority in machine gun numbers

Between 1915 and 1919, over a million wounded and sick soldiers passed through Dover Marine Station to be transferred onto ambulance trains.

The railway station was closed to the public in 1994 but its entrance has been protected under Grade II listed status.

A sound mirror at Fan Bay Battery in Kent was used to identify the sound of Zeppelins and German vessels up to 25 miles away from the coast.

47A Percy Gardens in Tynemouth was built towards the end of the war to provide watching eyes for two gun turrets on Tyneside following Zeppelin attacks.

Training trenches at Rothbury in Northumberland, first dug in 1915 by the 18th (Service) Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers in the winter of 1915 to 1916.

Training trenches at Rothbury, first dug in 1915 by the 18th (1st Tyneside Pioneers) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers

The aircraft repair section hangar at Old Sarum airfield near Salisbury in Wiltshire. The huge doors fold into the brick pillars

The aircraft repair section hangar at Old Sarum airfield near Salisbury in Wiltshire. The huge doors fold into the brick pillars

Huge aircraft hangars at Calshot in Hampshire, built to protect the Solent. The base shut in 1961 but has been preserved

Huge aircraft hangars at Calshot in Hampshire, built to protect the Solent. The base shut in 1961 but has been preserved

The Fox Goes Free pub in Charlton, West Sussex - scene of the first English Women's Institute meeting in November 1915

The Fox Goes Free pub in Charlton, West Sussex – scene of the first English Women’s Institute meeting in November 1915

A rifle range target wall in Burton-on-Trent dating back to 1914 - one of the images in new book Legacies of the First World War

A rifle range target wall in Burton-on-Trent dating back to 1914 – one of the images in new book Legacies of the First World War

A 'sound mirror' at Fan Bay on the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent was designed to give early warnings of Zeppelin raids

A ‘sound mirror’ at Fan Bay on the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent was designed to give early warnings of Zeppelin raids

Building R52 at the Royal Aircraft Factory in Farnborough was built in 1916 to house giant wind tunnels used in aircraft design

Building R52 at the Royal Aircraft Factory in Farnborough was built in 1916 to house giant wind tunnels used in aircraft design

The six-storey observation tower was again used during the Second World War before being converted into a home, which it remains to this day.

Mr Cocroft, 59, from Cambridge, said it was important these sites were documented to preserve them for future generations.

He said: ‘A hundred years on the popular image of the war is dominated by the Western Front and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, commemorated on memorials in almost every community in England.

‘The physical effect the war had on England’s countryside and built environment has been surprisingly little explored, and relatively few sites and buildings have been protected.

Remains of the cordite factory in Cliffe, Kent. The faint grid lines show tramways that connected reinforced concrete stoves

Remains of the cordite factory in Cliffe, Kent. The faint grid lines show tramways that connected reinforced concrete stoves

The factory in Cliffe, known as Curtis's and Harvey Explosive Works, is pictured from above during the First World War

The factory in Cliffe, known as Curtis’s and Harvey Explosive Works, is pictured from above during the First World War

47A Percy Gardens in Tynemouth was built near the end of the war to provide watching eyes for two gun turrets on Tyneside

47A Percy Gardens in Tynemouth was built near the end of the war to provide watching eyes for two gun turrets on Tyneside

HMS M33, a survivor of the ill fated Gallipoli campaign, now part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth

HMS M33, a survivor of the ill fated Gallipoli campaign, now part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth

A contemporary postcard of German submarine U-8, which was sunk by destroyers off Folkestone in Kent on March 4, 1914

A contemporary postcard of German submarine U-8, which was sunk by destroyers off Folkestone in Kent on March 4, 1914

A fascinating picture of Trafalgar Square in London recreated to look like the Western Front for a fundraising campaign

A fascinating picture of Trafalgar Square in London recreated to look like the Western Front for a fundraising campaign

‘In the immediate aftermath of the war there was a concerted effort to move on and most airfields were quickly shut down, with army camp huts being sold off at auction and dismantled for parts.

‘It was only in the early 1990s that English Heritage experts began research on the First World War in the context of studies of airfields, coastal fortifications, hospitals and munitions factories and the like.

‘Through this study we have discovered forgotten places which had not been protected and I feel we are the last chance saloon because if we don’t act now within 10 or 20 years many could be lost.’

Legacies of the First World War, by Wayne Cocroft and Paul Stamper is published by Historic England for £30

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