The Somme Heritage Centre is situated midway between the homes of 2 of my married daughters so I have passed it many many times and never thought of visiting it--partly I must say because it is not visible from the road and other than a 'brown sign' is not well advertised.----However my young grandson 9 years of age is hearing all about the great war in school and was quizzing me about it---his mum wondered if it would be worth a trip to the museum in Belfast and I said there is one just 5 mins drive away--the Somme Heritage Centre--she hadn't even heard of it !!!---I agreed to take young Charlie--didn't know what to expect---but what a super experience it turned out to be for both of us. I learnt a lot of new things about WW1 and Charlie got up close and personal with a machine gun and tried on army uniform and toted a Lee Enfield 303
The centre is superbly laid out extremely informative / interesting and is innovative in the ways it communicates--it is a very fitting memorial the the brave men of the Somme.
There is a guided tour every hour on the hour. The guide we had --Matthew was great--full of enthusiasm and able to entertain all ages in the group. He led us thro. the streets of Belfast just prior to the war then to a recruiting office--through the trenches past a field hospital and finally to no man's land all very realistic reconstructions with well thought out audio visual presentations.
We thoroughly enjoyed the experience--it was reasonably priced and an added bonus is the restaurant --very clean,light and airy--quite an extensive menu and tasty
This place is well worth a visit. Given our past troubles it shows how men from the North and South of Ireland from Orange and Green fought and died together in terrible conditions.
I think more needs to be done to market the centre. Regardless of age or background, local or tourist there is much of interest for everyone. Even to take a leaf out of the Ulster Folk Museum book--large advertising banners at the roadside would remind/inform the passing public of it's existance
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