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Bridport Duo’s ongoing First World War Commemoration

2014 saw the reconstruction of a First World War trench system at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the ‘Great War’. The trench system, constructed by two local Bridport men, Rowlie Moores and Paul Violet, incorporated firing steps, underground ‘dug-outs’ and above ground gun pits, as well as an area of ‘no man’s land’.

The trench system was originally only intended to be in situ for the duration of the 2014 show. However, due to its immense popularity, and in conjunction with the landowner, it has been allowed to be kept for the full duration of the First World War commemoration, culminating in 2018. During the show’s public opening days the trenches are home to The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Living History Group, The 10th Essex Regiment Great War Living History Group, The Garrison Artillery Volunteers and the World War One “Past History” Army Padre Display, all of whom bring to life the conditions our brave men endured to eventually gain victory.

Prior to the 2014 Great Dorset Steam Fair show and the opening of the First World War trench system, a First World War convoy road run, organized by David Allen and Rowlie Moores ran from the Tank Museum, Bovington, to the Great Dorset Steam Fair site at Tarrant Hinton, Blandford. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War the Great Dorset Steam Fair managing director, Martin Oliver and the show’s board of directors, along with David Allen and Rowlie Moores, have again arranged a “Home-Coming” convoy of First World War vehicles including a McLaren War Department steam road locomotive pulling a trailer with the replica ‘War Horse’ Mark IV male tank. Also in the convoy will be a 1917 ‘Holt’ ‘gun tractor’ and a Replica 8” Howitzer gun, along with many other First World War trucks and lorries, and Mounted Cavalry Horses.

The convoy takes place on Saturday, 11th August and will be leaving Bovington Camp at approximately 10.30am, travelling through Bere Regis, and stopping in Blandford at approximately 12.30pm near to The Crown Hotel, where there will be many photographic opportunities and a chance to see ‘Marching’ (Square-Bashing)! The convoy will then continue its journey to the Great Dorset Steam Fair site at Tarrant Hinton.

2018 also sees the 50th anniversary of the Great Dorset Steam Fair—which was originally known as the ‘Stourpaine Bushes Great Steam Working’ which was founded in 1969 by the Late Michael Oliver, Martin’s father. To mark this milestone in the preservation world the Great Dorset Steam Fair are attempting a Guinness World Record of the highest number of full-size steam-engines in one place. Such a gathering has never been attempted before, perhaps, as Martin Oliver remarked, since the industrial revolution.

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