Campaigners drive on with mission to turn former Second World War site Boldon Camp into military museum

Campaigners have pledged to continue their mission to turn a former World War Two site into a military museum- despite plans to demolish several graffiti-hit buildings on the land.

By Chris Binding
Saturday, 31st October 2020, 6:00 am
Philip Moore (left) of Boldon Camp Heritage Group with Stephen Carr and his WW2 jeep near the site in East Boldon
Philip Moore (left) of Boldon Camp Heritage Group with Stephen Carr and his WW2 jeep near the site in East Boldon

The Boldon Camp Heritage Group have been drumming up support in the community for their ambition to revamp the now derelict site, which is located on the outskirts of East Boldon, near the Sunderland Greyhound Stadium.

The site includes five concrete reinforced bunkers that were used for ammunition and a hangar that was designed for the making of ammunition, as well as a cottage, offices and an old fire house.

Campaigners had hoped to raise funds to buy the 17.5-acre site and relaunch it as a military heritage centre – however, this has been stalled due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Philip Moore (right) of Boldon Camp Heritage Group with Stephen Carr and his WW2 jeep near the site in East Boldon

Despite the setbacks, the heritage group are continuing their campaign.

They are also asking for help to draft a ‘feasibility study’ to bring the heritage centre idea to life.

“The demolition application does affect our plans but at the same time, there’s still enough there to have a go at if we get to that point where we produce a venture,” said Philip Moore, of Boldon Camp Heritage Group.

Campaigners are hoping to turn the former WW2 site in East Boldon into a military heritage centre

“It’s not ideal because we want to keep as much of what’s there intact as possible but at the present time and climate with Covid, there’s not much we can do unfortunately.

“I think the funding that there is around the country is having to be diverted to help people affected by [the pandemic].”

The East Boldon Anti-Aircraft Supply Depot (HER1829) is the last of its type in the North East of England.

Campaigners hope that a museum at the site can tell the story of South Tyneside during WW2 and the importance of the gun batteries and defences protecting industries such as shipbuilding and gun manufacturing.

Campaigners are hoping to turn the former WW2 site in East Boldon into a military heritage centre

It would also pay homage to local military units, telling the stories of those who served, alongside showcasing vehicles and uniforms.

Philip added that the site “played a massive part in the protection of the North East during World War Two” by supplying ammunition to military sites across the region.

“If we did get the site, it wouldn’t be just a museum,” he said.

“It would be a social area so groups could use the land and a good all round thing for the local South Tyneside area. Tourism would be a big draw.

Campaigners are hoping to turn the former WW2 site in East Boldon into a military heritage centre

He added: “Once you get the site that’s the biggest hurdle. There’s the old saying there, build and they will come, I do believe that.”

A planning application to demolish some buildings at Boldon Camp is currently being considered by South Tyneside Council.

Planning documents state the buildings are being “vandalised regularly and are in a dangerous condition.”

While several smaller structures are set to be removed under this plan, the bunkers to the south will remain in place.

“My goal [for the site] is still the same but I do know it’s a monumental task to take it on,” Philip added.

“I would like people to be urged to think about destroying the history of South Tyneside.”

He added: “There’s no doubt there’s an issue with the youth and some of them being quite bad and disruptive to the local residents.

“But I think the site could be flipped over and be quite the opposite, it could be a shining star in the local area.”

Find out more about the Boldon Camp Heritage Group and their campaign here: www.boldoncamp.co.uk

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