The journey to War and Peace Revival from the heart by Show Organiser Rex Cadman It is reassuring to see the amount of talk about War and Peace, which underlines the incredible affection this show is held in. It has been a major part of mine and Barbara’s lives for 25-years and has given us some of our best memories, some of our toughest times and introduced us to some amazing and wonderful people. Many of these people we are delighted and proud to be able to call friends and it is only thanks to our involvement in War and Peace that we have these people in our lives.
It had been felt by many for a couple of years that the Show was becoming a little staid, so after a summer of considerable thought and discussion with my team, we came to the conclusion that it was time for a new start at a new venue. It was time to close The War and Peace Show that we all knew and loved and move on.
Once this decision was made, the entire War and Peace team – including both the office staff and Officials – felt rejuvenated and excited at the prospect of building something new, something even better. We all loved and enjoyed the War and Peace Show so it was important to keep this momentum and maintain the incredible feeling of community that it brought. It was a lengthy, exhausting and worrying few months finding a new location – after all this had to be right. We had so many “non-negotiable” needs that the list of locations available was all too short. We’ve visited fields and event sites, talked to the military and estate agents, and were despairing of ever finding the right location. We found one site we really liked, only to have our ideas dashed when the owner changed his mind.
Then we found Folkestone Racecourse. We tried not to become too excited – there was so much riding on this that we couldn’t get it wrong. The permanent facilities are much better than those at the Hop Farm – with plenty of toilets, a large restaurant with a grandstand view of the show ground, several bars and lots of lovely grass and tarmac. The acreage available to us is greater than we use at the Hop Farm and with many acres of adjoining farmland, expansion is always possible. There are several entrances to get various types of vehicles in and out – public, trade and vehicle exhibitors will each have their own entrances – and there is even an accommodation block for our Officials! For our Living History participants – there is plenty of space and we’ll be able to have an area for those that need to dig and those that don’t.
The local area has such an enormous military history that it is perfect for the new War and Peace Revival. Right in Hellfire Corner, ten minutes up the road is Ashford, famed as a WW2 transport hub. RAF Lympne is practically around the corner and the Racecourse site itself was better known as RAF Westenhanger during WW2. Ten miles in the opposite direction is Folkestone, from where millions of soldiers departed for the battlefields of WW1 France, and further along the marshes is the proposed location of Hitler’s Operation Sea Lion invasion of Britain, while Dover, Ramsgate, Canterbury, St Margaret’s Bay and many more historic locations are just a short drive away.
With the decision made on the site and designs being started, a last minute name change gave us our new show, and The War and Peace Revival was born. The websites were bought, Twitter feeds acquired and Facebook name changed.
Meanwhile talks were continuing with people including the local council, which is very supportive of our new show. Knowing the impact our old show had on Paddock Wood and the surrounding area, they are keen to help us with the new venture – this will be a very positive step in Shepway’s regeneration programme and we are delighted to also have the full support of Kent County Council and Visit Kent.
This move to the new venue and launch of the new show gives us the opportunity to introduce aspects that we’ve never had before with the old show. I will be drawing upon our Officials to help with this and in fact we’ve already started with some major plans. There were many things we wanted to introduce but weren’t able to at the Hop Farm due to budget issues or structural layout. For example we’ve wanted to increase our Vintage element for some time so now we have the chance. Working with Terry Elliott we will be introducing a Vintage Village which will cater for the more glamorous side of our audience! Home Front re-enactment will be another expanding area, showing the impact of war on civilians and the breadth of roles they were required to fulfil.
Of course we know that the location is key for both our visitors and exhibitors alike. From the Dartford Tunnel it is just another 24 miles further on for visitors north of there, or 28 miles further from Clackett Lane on the M25 – and apart from the last mile its motorway all the way! The amount of time it would take you to get the 9 ½ miles from J4 of the M20 to the Hop Farm you would be nearly to Ashford. The access is far simpler than at the Hop Farm, with the new venue being just one mile off junction 11 of the M20 and having ample parking. For rail travellers there is a mainline train station right next door – in fact you could hop over the fence and be straight into the showground – not that we recommend it! And of course it is much closer for visitors from the continent. The Channel Tunnel Terminus and Eurostar are just 10-minutes away and the ports of Folkestone and Dover are also very close. Our friends at DFDS Seaways have confirmed they will extend the special War and Peace travel rates to the new War and Peace Revival.
Now that we’re doing this on our own, the responsibility will stop firmly with War and Peace for toilets and showers. No longer will we be reliant on our venue for facilities that were often sub-standard. However we do need visitors and exhibitors to respect this and these facilities and treat them as you would your facilities at home.
Our team is totally committed to bringing our loyal visitors and exhibitors an exciting new show, which will be as well-organised as my former show. The entire team is behind this new event and we are all looking forward to it and to welcoming our friends both old and new to this new show – and hopefully reaching a wider audience at our amazing new venue.
Updates will be posted regularly going forwards from here. We realise that without you there is no show and we want to ensure that we include you in everything we’re doing between now and July. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them – you know our email addresses and phone numbers.
With its closure, we’re now in talks with a publishing company to produce a 30th anniversary book to chart the history of The War and Peace Show.
So on behalf of Barbara, Georgie, Andrea, Alison, Paul and all the Officials, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and for bearing with us over the next year while we move forwards with this new show.
“Rye’s Own” March 2013
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