The Great British Dig delves into history of South Shields as Hugh Dennis and television team head to its cliffs
A team of TV archaeologist will head to the clifftops of South Shields tonight as they search for evidence of a secret World War military base.
The Great British Dig’s series finale will be screened on More4 tonight, Wednesday, March 10, from 9pm, showing actor and comedian Hugh Dennis and a team of experts as they carry out investigations around Trow Point.
The outcrop is home to a Grade II-listed turret structure and what remains of an experiment in coastal defence technology in the 19th Century.
Designed by Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim, it was first placed there in 1887 when the Army was exploring new coastal defences.
Although the original concrete housing remains, the gun is a replica placed at the site in 1987 to commemorate the trial exactly 100 years earlier, with efforts underway by the National Trust to preserve the ‘Disappearing Gun’ structure.
The programme notes say: “Armed with their shovels, mattocks and the hope to discover evidence of this potential war-time training ground, the team set out to become the first people to ever put these important pieces of British military history on the map.
"With the help of the local army regiment and some keen volunteers, they discover what lies beneath the weather-beaten shores all before it's too late and the site is lost to coastal erosion forever.”
Trow Point has a history of military training and artillery practice and was used by Durham 3rd Artillery Volunteers, which was formed in 1859 to protect the region against the French during the Franco-Prussian War.
For decades volunteers from across County Durham and East Yorkshire visited at weekends to Frenchman's Lea to the south, and Trow Point, to train in the use of heavy artillery guns.
Other episodes in The Great British Dig the series have headed for Benwell in Newcastle, where they searched for a Roman fort connected to Hadrian's Wall to shed new light on the Roman military, to a lost Viking burial ground in Masham, North Yorkshire, uncovering information about the lives of the Anglo-Saxons laid to rest there and to Nottinghamshire to discover more about William the Conquerors' lost priory and the mysteries of the monks that walked its halls.
The Stawberry Blond TV-made series, including tonight’s show after it has been screened, can be watched via https://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-great-british-dig-history-in-your-garden/episode-guide.