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Blyth Battery volunteers prepare for two-day event re-creating life in wartime

LIFE on the Home Front during two world wars will be remembered in vivid detail when a major nostalgia event takes place at a military-themed visitor attraction later this month.

LIFE on the Home Front during two world wars will be remembered in vivid detail when a major nostalgia event takes place at a military-themed visitor attraction later this month.

Wartime re-enactment groups from England and Scotland will converge on the former Blyth Battery in Northumberland – a unique collection of wartime relics which have been transformed into a tourist attraction and educational resource.

A similar event held last summer saw more than 25,000 enthusiasts turn up for the two-day event, which recalls the wartime days of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.

This year’s Blyth Battery Goes to War will be held on Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19, and includes vintage vehicles and displays showcasing the military way of life and how the people of Britain lived through the two world wars.

Visitors will be able to watch scenarios played out by re-enactment groups, including a beach assault on both days with blank firing weapons, which will provide some big bangs and spectacular scenes.

Groups are coming to Blyth seafront from the west of Scotland and all over the north of England, and the event will feature artillery, mortars, grenades and machine guns. There will also be living history displays and military vehicles, including an original 1944 American M24 Chaffee light tank.

Experts will provide weapon talks and firing displays, there will be a mine clearance demonstration and two displays by the 1914 Gordon Highlanders, culminating in a short attack scenario in the amphitheatre.

Yesterday, Mary Allison, a member of the volunteers who manage the Blyth Battery complex, said: “We’re all very excited about this year’s event. It will be truly spectacular, with what we and the re-enactors have planned.

“I’m especially looking forward to the beach battles and the musical entertainment, including Colin Bourdaic and his tribute to George Formby, and local girl Chloe Watson keeping everyone entertained throughout the weekend.”

Entry and car parking for the event is free.

In 2010 a dedication ceremony was held to mark the completion of a £525,000 restoration scheme at Blyth Battery, which was built in 1916 and protected the port of Blyth and its submarine base from enemy attack during the two world wars.

The project, which secured funding from the Heritage Lottery, English Heritage and the North of England Civic Trust, restored what was described as one of the most complete examples of a coastal defence installation in eastern Britain.

It includes a searchlight tower, gun emplacements, a magazine block, observation posts, a rangefinder tower and an engine house. It was left derelict and decaying for many years before its restoration, which created an exhibition space, education room and cafe.

 

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