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World War I instruction model of a trench system, and associated earthwork and building remains 850m north west of Fairoak Cottages, Cannock Chase

A Scheduled Monument in Brindley Heath, Staffordshire

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Latitude: 52.7489 / 52°44'56"N

Longitude: -1.9973 / 1°59'50"W

OS Eastings: 400278.543449

OS Northings: 316814.005465

OS Grid: SK002168

Mapcode National: GBR 28Z.RTL

Mapcode Global: WHBF8.954F

Entry Name: World War I instruction model of a trench system, and associated earthwork and building remains 850m north west of Fairoak Cottages, Cannock Chase

Scheduled Date: 26 November 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021326

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35861

County: Staffordshire

Civil Parish: Brindley Heath

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Brereton and Rugeley

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a World War I
instruction model of a trench system, and associated earthworks and building
remains. The model of the trench system and the adjacent building formed a
part of Rugeley Camp, one of two army camps established during World War I on
Cannock Chase. Rugeley Camp and the other camp at Brockton, about 3km to the
north west, served initially as transit camps for troops en route to the
Western Front. As the war progressed both camps became more permanent
training establishments, with a steady influx of troops from all over the
country, including those dispatched from the Empire countries. Together the
two camps could have accommodated about 40,000 men. Various schools of
instruction were established at the camps, which provided training in the use
of rifles and machine guns, and courses in scouting, signalling and gas
warfare. At Brockton Camp teaching facilities included a scale model of
Messines Ridge, constructed out of concrete. Messines Ridge in the northern
part of the Western Front, was captured by the Allied forces in June 1917.
Little now survives of this model.
After World War I parts of both camps remained in military use, but in the
1920s much of Rugeley Camp was destroyed before being planted with trees by
the Forestry Commission.
The model trench system at Rugeley lies on the eastern edge of the former
camp, where the ground slopes gently from west to east. The model is
rectilinear in shape and measures approximately 12m north-south at the
eastern end, 18m across at the western end, and is just over 40m long
east-west. It consists of a series of steep-sided, flat-bottomed trenches dug
into gravel, many of which are interconnected, separated by D-shaped mounds.
The sides of the model are embanked. Some of the material for the model's
construction probably came from the level quarried area immediately to the
The front line or fire trench is defined on its outer (northern) edge by an
earthen parapet. Along this side the trench model stands to a maximum height
of 1.5m above the level base of the adjacent quarry. The sinous form of the
eastern part of this trench represents four fire bays. In battle it was from
these positions that much of the attacking rifle fire would have been
directed. The average dimensions of this trench are 0.6m wide at the base,
1.7m wide across the top and 0.6m deep. To the rear (south) of the front line
trench is a network of trenches running parallel with, and at right and acute
angles to, the front line. In profile they are of a similar size to the front
line. In battle these connecting trenches enabled troops to move to and from
the front line, and provided access to shelters, stores and other auxiliary
structures. Also within the area to the rear of the front line are several
shorter trenches, representing the location of such features as a command
post, a kitchen and latrines. The dimensions of the trenches suggest that the
model was intended to be between a quarter and a third life size.
The layout of the trench model is directly comparable to the trench systems
illustrated in the Manual of Field Engineering, published by the General
Staff of the War Office in 1911. In this manual the area in front of a trench
system is shown to have been protected by a series of devices, including
barbed wire entanglements, alarm and trip wires, and alarm guns. The level
area to the north of the trench model would have provided a suitable space
for the positioning of such devices. At its north western corner the level
area has been extended to form a flat-bottomed trench, up to 4.7m wide, 10.3m
long and 0.7m deep. It may have served as a storage bay. Immediately to the
north of the flat-bottomed trench and level area is a building platform about
25m long. Brick and concrete foundations and the concrete floor of the
building constructed here remain visible. A plan produced of Rugeley Camp in
1918 indicates that this building served as the Brigade Office. The remains
of this building, the platform on which it stands, the adjacent trench and
the level area are all included in the scheduling, preserving their
relationship with the trench model. In addition, the scheduling includes a 5m
margin of support and protection on the monument's eastern, western and
southern boundaries.
The utility pole and the deer warning post are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Life size and scale model trench systems were constructed at or near army
camps throughout Britain during World War I to teach soliders the rudiments
of trench warfare. Few trench systems, built to life size or as models, are
known to survive. Trench models are particularly rare. The trench model at
the former army camp of Rugeley is a fine example of this class of monument.
It appears to be virtually complete and provides a clear illustration of the
arrangement of trenches forming a `typical' trench system in use during World
War I. A field survey undertaken here has recorded the layout of the
trenches, the associated earthworks and structure to the north. These remains
are publicly accessible within Cannock Chase Forest Park and have significant
educational potential. They also act as a memorial to those who went from
Cannock Chase to fight in the trenches on the Western Front.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
War Office, , Manual of Field Engineering, (1911)
Whitehouse, C J, G P, , A Town For Four Winters, (1983)
Welch, C, 'Environmental Planning Unit Research Report Number 2' in An investigation of a trench model at the WWI camp at Rugeley, (1997), 5,Fig 4
Welch, C, 'Environmental Planning Unit Research Report Number 2' in An investigation of a trench model at the WWI camp at Rugeley, (1997)
Title: Cannock Chase Map
Source Date:
Text on the back of the map

Source: Historic England

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