Manchester City Council

Sports, leisure & the Arts Heaton Park during the First World War

In the trenches

Soldiers recovering from their wounds at Heaton Park during World War I converted a large piece of enclosed ground near the Middleton Road entrance into a maze of trenches for the public to visit.

Their work was based on the trenches used in France with the aim of showing visitors the meaning of subterranean warfare.  A charge was made for admission to be donated to Sir C Arthur Pearson's work for the Blinded Heroes Fund.

The work included fire and communication trenches, a listening-post, semi-armour piercing bombs, dug-outs, a machine-gun encampment, artillery observation posts, dressing station, company headquarters and the barbed wire entanglements.

At the opening on 6 June 1916 Lord Rochdale was there present along with the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Colonel W.W. Clapham, Sir Edward Donner, Sir Daniel McCabe and many others interested in Sir C Arthur Pearson’s work for the blinded soldiers.

Lord Rochdale complimented the men on their work, and said how glad he was that an inspection of trenches had been arranged. He thought it was good for people to learn something about the condition of things in the fighting fields.

Lord Rochdale said "It might help the people at home to learn the great lesson of the war. We had certainly not learned the lesson yet".  He also said:

"We are going through a period of great trial and punishment, and we deserve that trial and punishment. For a generation we have seen the murderer, the pirate, and the assassin preparing against us, and we have done nothing to meet him. And now we are suffering the punishment and retribution which we deserve. As a nation we are just new under a cloud, for we have lost a great leader and soldier, Lord Kitchener. I hope that in our present anxiety and suffering we may learn the lesson of preparedness. We have been unprepared, and I am afraid that if the war were to end today we should still find a large section in this country who would ask that we should be unprepared again."

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