Norfolk’s lost First World War landscapes revealed

Just Regional
Oct 8, 2014 3 mins read

A century on from the start of the First World War, a series of talks is set 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 WW1 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.

“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 World War One feature that can still be seen today are 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.


Dates and times of talks
Tickets are £2 per person and need to be booked in advance. Please drop in or call the individual libraries to reserve your place. Each talk lasts 50 minutes.
Millennium library                Wed 22 October – 12.30pm
Holt library                             Thurs 13 November – 10am
Wroxham library                   Thurs 13 November – 6pm

A ‘Pulham Pig’ airship Norwich Aerodrome and training camp on Mousehold Heath

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