Cambridgeshire Man Parks World War I Tank On His Drive
In BBC broadcaster Mark Carruthers' new book actor Sir Kenneth Branagh, Nobel-winning poet Seamus Heaney, in one of his final interviews before his death in August, and singer Brian Kennedy give illuminating, and surprising, answers

BBC News, 7 October 2013

A World War I enthusiast has parked a replica Great War tank on the drive of his Cambridgeshire home.

Tony Cooke, from Cottenham, said the Mark IV "trench buster" is one of only two working replicas in Europe. The 21ft (6.4m)-long tank was built for a Kenneth Branagh film and bought for 30,000 by a team headed by Dr Cooke.

They hope to make the tank the centrepiece of a 2m National Centre for the Great War in Dry Drayton, if planning permission is granted. An application to build the centre at Hacker's Fruit Farm has been submitted to South Cambridgeshire District Council. The centre would include a World War I training camp and reconstructed Allied and German trenches, separated by no man's land.

Dr. Cooke said: "The Great War seems to have been neglected, especially in education, and we have to somehow get the next generation to understand the sacrifices these soldiers made."

It is hoped the replica will find a new home in nearby Dry Drayton. The application is open to public consultation and if passed the plan is to open the centre in time for next year's centenary of World War I.

In the meantime, the tank remains on Dr Cooke's drive.

Its previous owner, Mike Bradley, bought the tank from the set of Kenneth Branagh's film of 'The Magic Flute'.

Dr Cooke said he has so far spent another 5,000 to rebuild the tank's exterior to make it a "faithful reproduction" of the original "trench buster", complete with replica guns. It is, however, 5ft (1.5m) shorter than the original and 22 tonnes lighter, because its metal frame is clad with wood instead of armour plate.

Dr. Cooke said: "They were designed to climb out of shell craters, cross trenches and destroy fixed emplacements, machine guns or field artillery - they were pretty revolutionary in that time."

The other working replica Mark IV tank was built for director Stephen Spielberg's film 'Warhorse'. It is now at the Tank Museum at Bovington, Dorset.

Back to Articles Listing | Back to the Compendium