Final War Horse play will help preserve real WW1 stables

  • The final London production of Michael Morpurgo’s award winning play War Horse this weekend (12 March) is supporting a charity trying to preserve the real war horse stables.

    The programmes at the final production will have leaflets inserted showing the work of the Shorncliffe Trust.

    The Kent-based charity is fighting to raise funds to preserve the heritage on the site of the Shorncliffe War Horse Stables and remount school run by the Canadian Veterinary Corps at Shorncliffe Camp in WW1.

    “Shorncliffe contributed hugely to the war effort, providing care, veterinary attention and alleviating the suffering,” said Mr Morpurgo. “It is a place that played a significant part in the story of the First World War, and that is a story that must be told in all its aspects and passed onto the next generation.”

    The stables on the former MOD-owned are soon to be demolished by the new owners Taylor Wimpey.

    The Shorncliffe Trust, set up by Chris Shaw is fighting to raise £2m to lease the land from the new owners and turn the Victorian buildings into an educational centre.

    “We thank Michael Morpurgo and the National Theatre for supporting our charity and giving us a chance to tell the story of these magnificent animals, who bravely worked and died alongside their soldiers from all countries during WW1,” said Mr Shaw.

    “We hope that the work and educational programmes we are planning at Shorncliffe are a fitting legacy to the thousands of men and horses that came through the gates of the camp in WW1,” he added.

    Shorncliffe camp had more than 3m men pass through its gates.

    The site is considered to be the birthplace of the British Light Infantry and the modern British soldier.

    The author Bernard Cornwall, one of the charity’s patrons has agreed to open a Sharpe Museum on the site if the land can be saved.

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    The camp was home to the 95th Rifles made famous in Cornwall’s Sharpe series of books.

    A Taylor Wimpey spokesperson told H&H: “As part of our planning permission for the former MOD Shorncliffe Garrison site in Folkestone, we are required to produce a management plan for the land previously known as the ‘back door training area’, to demonstrate how we will balance the ecological, recreational and historical interests of the area.

    “We will continue to work with existing residents and local interest groups to ensure that all interested parties can have their say on how the land is managed, but our main priority is to strike the correct balance between the ecological, recreational and historical elements of the site.”

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