National Center for the Great War to be Built Despite Setbacks

Source: By Bmurphy21 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Source: By Bmurphy21 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Campaigners looking to build the National Center for the Great War in Hemingford are facing a setback. It has been revealed that Huntington-based building services Mick George Ltd has bought the intended site of the camp, a former golf course.

When planners at Huntingdonshire District Council asked that the scheme should be given the green-light for the second time, Histon-based Lest We Forget Ltd, which is behind efforts to build the camp, thought it had victory in sight.

Permission to build the National Centre for the Great War was turned down by councilors after residents and business owners of Hemingford raised concerns about the noisy traffic it would cause.

Members of the council’s Development Management Committee also expressed concern over a lack of information about center would be operating. After the meeting Dr. Tony Cooke, director of Lest we Forget, almost threw up the white flag, saying they would most likely not make an appeal.

“I don’t know what we are going to do next. I will go back to talk to the boys,” he said. “I don’t think we are going to make any progress on this site for a number of reasons.”

Earlier in the year Lest we Forget just missed out on a bid to build the center at Dry Drayton.

The site was to be a replica of a training camp, like the ones that would have dotted England during World War I. Lest we Forget was going to build trenches, a narrow gauge railway, a memorial garden, and an area that could serve as a film set.

He had hoped they would be able to get everything up and running by the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, or failing that by the centenary of the conflict’s end in 2018.

Following concerns about noise and traffic issues, the project was put off by councilors who wanted more information even though planners gave the go-ahead to start construction.

Cllr Jason Ablewhite stated, “The principle of the site is 110 percent something I support, but I also think we have to protect existing businesses and that [responsibility] outweighs any plans for a new facility.”

It remained unclear to Cllr Ryan Fuller how the site would be used, but Cllr Peter Reeve felt the project could go ahead subject to stringent conditions.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE