First World War memorial training trench to be built at Shoreham Fort

Shoreham Fort. Image: Google
Shoreham Fort. Image: Google

First World War history lessons will take on a new dimension after permission was given for a memorial training trench to be built at Shoreham Fort.

Tens of thousands of men trained in the seaside town before heading to France to face the horrors of trench warfare and, once it is built, the training trench will help their great-great grandchildren picture the life they endured.

The Friends of Shoreham Fort want to create a trench similar to this one, pictured at Vimy Ridge, France. Picture: Friends of Shoreham Fort/Adur District Council planning portal

The Friends of Shoreham Fort want to create a trench similar to this one, pictured at Vimy Ridge, France. Picture: Friends of Shoreham Fort/Adur District Council planning portal

The application, from the Shoreham Port Authority, was approved at a meeting of Adur District Council’s planning committee on Monday night (December 9).

Joss Loader, Independent Alliance councillor for Marine, and chairman of the Shoreham Beach Residents’ Association, told the meeting: “Rather than glamorising war, as suggested by some objectors, this project seeks to act as a lasting memorial to the many men who trained in Shoreham prior to going to fight in the First World War.

“It will be an educational asset and a useful way to help our younger residents  to understand and appreciate the lessons of the past.”

The project was made possible in 2014 after the Friends of Shoreham Fort received support from the public and were awarded £10,000 from the council’s Pot of Gold fund.

The volunteer group’s hard work and dedication to the project was praised by many.

A letter of support from Shoreham North county councillor Debbie Kennard said: “This is a very important project and the Friends of Shoreham Fort should be supported for the work they have done to preserve, enhance and protect this site for the community.”

The trench will be between 1.8m and 2.8m wide, around 26m long and between 1m and 1.5m high. Rather than being dug into the ground, it will be raised, with bunds on both sides, and will be wheelchair accessible.

Shoreham Fort was built in the 19th century and is a scheduled monument.

Some concerns had been raised about the impact the trench would have on the ecology of the site but a report to the committee said invasive plants would be removed and species such as starry clover would be planted ‘to enable a net biodiversity gain at the site’.

In addition, the bunds would be covered with shingle rather than grass and planted with species appropriate to that habitat.

The application was approved unanimously.