Monday, 16 September 2013

Model Messines in Staffordshire

Staffordshire has been in the news again, with archaeologists uncovering a find unique in Britain ­– a perfectly scaled down model of a Belgian town and its surroundings as it appeared during the First World War.

The model – of Messines and the countryside around it – covers some 40 square yards and was used as a training aid, to help British troops visualise what awaited them before they went to war. But it was actually built by the enemy – German prisoners of war – when they were held at Brocton Camp.

Messines occupied a strategically important position on the Western Front, and was captured by the New Zealand Rifle Brigade after ferocious fighting in 1917.  Over 50,000 men (from both sides) were killed, wounded or reported as missing in action. On retuning to Brocton, the New Zealanders planned out the Messines model and supervised construction. As well as houses, shops and churches, the infamous trenches, railway lines and roads are all laid out with incredible precision, right down to the contours of the land.

After the war, the model was kept as a memorial but eventually it became overgrown. Unfortunately, once fully uncovered it will only be open for viewing for a short time – it’s so fragile it will have to be re-covered to preserve it for future generations.


The model as it appeared in 1918


  1. The Messines model was built in 1918, not 1917. The NZ troops came up to Brocton end of September 1917 - the battle of Messines was June 1917. Now, unless they knew Dr Who and could do time travel.......

  2. and if you want the story of who actually re-discovered the model six years ago, email me