Lancashire At War.co.uk

Exploring the hidden history of War sites in Lancashire

Peel Park, Accrington - WW2 Anti-glider trenches

Peel Park & The Coppice in Accrington still bares the scars of both World War One and World War Two. These are in the form of trenches that are spread out across much of the site some 250m above sea level. Great debate rages on local forums as to which war they date from and indeed the local authority's sign at the entrance states: "There is some evidence of World War I practice trenches dug by the Accrington Pals and also World War II antiglider defences."

 

On the ground the Second World War antiglider trenches are still visible, many are easily spotted even from the circular path - especially around its Northern and Western sides. They are long, straight, with an earth bank and a ditch deeper on one side than the other. They could be misinterpreted as drainage ditches or even having some prehistoric use if you did not know what you were looking at.

 

They are easily visible from above (see Google Earth image below).

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Were these trenches dug to prevent gliders coming from the East during WW2? The longer ones certainly align themselves with that thought in mind. But smaller ones that are less easily visible run inbetween at the opposite angle.

What are not visible either on the ground or from aerial photos are any trenches dug during the First World War. The Council erected sign states trenches were dug in WWI as well as WW2, this information may come from a report by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF ARDEN HALL,  PEEL PARK & THE COPPICE –  

A summary of the Management Plan for 2012-16 .

In this report it is claimed the Accrington Pals (11th (Service) Battalion (Accrington) East Lancashire Regiment) may have practiced entrenching to the "northeast of the memorial" before going to war in 1916. What does seem to be excepted generally, is that the Accrington Pals did train and possibly camp on this land during the First World War. We wonder whether this memory and the knowledge of trenches dug (in WWII) may have become mixed up in local folklore? The trenches visible certainly don't look like any practise WW1 trenches that you can see elsewhere in the country. But they do match the concept of anti-glider/aircraft trenches. We are certain that all the visible trenches are from WW2.

Above: The impressive modern pedestrian entrance to Peel Park and The Coppice.

Above: The site courtesy of Google Earth with three steep sides covered in woodland and its Eastern side cut by the modern A65 bypass. Looking like an Iron Age promontory fort.

Above Left: "Accrington Pals route march over The Coppice" and Above Right: One of four cannons (64 pounders) that were once on The Coppice but have now been removed. Both photos courtesy of one of the display boards in Peel Park.

Below: Some of the longer anti-gider trenches dug during WW2, where there is an earth bank and two ditches, with one ditch more pronounced than the other. The last photo is of one of the shorter trenches which are harder to spot.

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Left: One of the display boards shows the area of trenches and labels them: "WW2 Anti Aircraft Trenches Heritage Area".

 

Right: A lump of old concrete with a metal bar sticking out. A remnant of WW2?

 

Below Left: The monument to the Peel family (famous of course for Sir Robert Peel of Bury) who gave some of this land to the people of Hyndburn to enjoy.

Peel Park, The Coppice and the nearby Arden Hall sites are a real credit to the local council. The park is full of useful information boards, the area is very popular and well used and the views at the top of The Coppice are well worth the climb.