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Fire-hit Park Hall Countryside Experience battles back

By Keri Trigg | Oswestry | Attractions | Published:

A tourist attraction destroyed in a deliberate fire has been re-built by volunteers.

Stanley Saunders, 8, from Shrewsbury, who came to take a look

The trenches and underground war rooms at Park Hall Countryside Experience, near Oswestry, were targeted by arsonists in April 2018.

All that remained of the rooms – built in 2014 to give visitors a snapshot of life for World War One soldiers on the front line – were the metal frame of a bunk bed and a tin plate.

But they are now open to visitors again thanks to volunteers Andy Field and Eddie Constable who spent several days a week over the last six months bringing them back to life.

Andy said: "Back in April I was looking to do some volunteer work originally as a trench guide. But they said they had got this project and asked if I was interested in taking it up.

"I was very fortunate that Eddie came along too and was a carpenter in a former life."

Andy and Eddie, who are both retired, got to work constructing the new rooms, making them as close to the real thing as possible.

"I did a bit of research, looking at pictures of World War One underground rooms and film that have had those sort of sets," said Andy.

Stanley Saunders, 8, and Percy Saunders, 6, from Shrewsbury, come to take a look

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"We created three basic rooms. One is a room for normal soldiers where they could get some sleep, there is a triage area for people coming off the front, and an officer headquarters where they would be able to sleep and there is also a map table in there.

"We had to make up all the furniture, put lighting in, and dress the rooms.

"We had a donation from Park Hall to dress the rooms with various World War One equipment, either modern recreations or actual items from the time."

As well as their work rebuilding the rooms, Andy and Eddie have made improvements to the trenches by creating signs, information boards and replica weapons, with help from the Men's Shed.

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Andy said: "It is not finished, there are lots of other things we are doing, like repairing bits of the trenches, and we have got ideas to put more things in.

"The main thing is that when we do tours and school trips we can give people an insight into what it might have been like.

"It is important we don't let the memories fade and remember the sacrifice these people made."

Keri Trigg

By Keri Trigg
Reporter - @KeriTrigg_Star

Senior reporter covering Shrewsbury and South Shropshire for the Shropshire Star.

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