Rare WW1 huts saved from demolition in Suffolk

WW1 army huts
Image caption The WW1 barrack huts were being used as a social club on a car park in the centre of Ipswich

Two rare examples of World War One army barrack huts have been saved from demolition, after being discovered in a car park in Suffolk.

The huts were being used by the Labour Club in Ipswich as a social room and were due to be destroyed next month.

Taff Gillingham, director of a project to build a WW1 visitor centre at Hawstead near Bury St Edmunds, found them by chance.

The huts will now be dismantled and rebuilt at the centre.

Mr Gillingham had been searching for army huts and read in an Ipswich Society Journal that the Labour Club on Silent Street was to build a new restaurant and meeting place.

Image caption The two huts had been joined together to create one space of approximately 40ft (12m) by 40ft (12m)

The new building was to replace "an old wooden hut" that was due to be demolished.

Mr Gillingham visited the club and found the two original WW1 huts, joined in the centre to form one.

They had been bought by the Labour Club from Colchester Garrison in the late 1930s when new, brick barracks were being built.

"These huts are very rare survivors," said Mr Gillingham.

"While some still exist as village halls or farm buildings, very few are in their original form."

Mr Gillingham said they had planning permission to build 11 replica huts at Hawstead, but to have an original hut was "fantastic".

He said: "Hundreds of World War One soldiers would have slept in there [the huts] during their training before they went off to France or Mesapotamia or Palestine.

"There's an element of magic in that."

The Great War Visitor Centre is due to open at Brook Farm, Hawstead, in spring next year.

Image copyright Andrew Phillips
Image caption The huts originally came from Colchester Garrison - and more can be found out about their history on the BBC's World War One at Home website

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