Derelict First World War hut set for restoration after being discovered in Ellington

Tracey Mackenzie and Kevin Smith with the Ellington hut.

Tracey Mackenzie and Kevin Smith with the Ellington hut. - Credit: Archant

An unusual piece of Huntingdonshire’s First World War heritage has been saved after it was brought to the attention of a specialist team of historians.

An example of an original set of huts, pictured in 1916.

An example of an original set of huts, pictured in 1916. - Credit: Archant

A wooden Army hut, used for many years as storage space in Ellington, is set to be restored and relocated to a new First World War visitor centre being built near Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk.

The derelict hut was brought to the attention of the Great War Huts team at a large military show in Warwickshire on Sunday by its owner, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Great War Huts is a heritage project set up to record, restore and re-erect different examples of wooden barrack huts made during the First World War.

Unlike most surviving huts of the period, the Ellington hut is a much smaller building and is believed to have been used as accommodation for officers on a small camp. After the war, most of these buildings were sold off to private buyers and became village halls, Scout and Guide huts, chapels, or farm buildings.

Project spokesman, Tracey Mackenzie said: “This is an important addition to the project. The majority of buildings that survive are the large 20’ x 60’ barrack huts. These smaller buildings were built in far fewer numbers and it is extremely rare to find a surviving example in a restorable condition.”

Kevin Smith is leading the restoration team. He said: “Our original plan was to use replica huts to house the displays. However, after being given the chance to rescue an original hut we realised that the game had changed.

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“Original huts are artefacts in their own right and just ooze history. We already have ten original huts from around the country under restoration. This hut is a valuable addition and increases our knowledge of the different types of hut.”

A hut restoration in progress.

A hut restoration in progress. - Credit: Archant

The Great War Huts project is rescuing 12 original huts which were built during the war and restoring them. They are then being rebuilt as part of a period Army camp of the kind which sprung up all over the country between 1914 and 1919.

It is hoped by organisers that the first phase of the centre will be open to the public later this year.