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Le Café de Normandie at Armourgeddon

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Posted: 24/02/2016 14:05
Views: 13913

The grand unveiling of Le Café de Normandie has taken place this week with much jubilation. Read our latest blog about the Café and an update on the significantly increased museum at Armourgeddon- the culmination of a winter of work for the team on site. 

The winter has seen a massive change to the museum at Armourgeddon. Apart from becoming fifty percent larger than it was before; the latest upgrade to the museum sees Le Café de Normandie open its doors for business!

It has been an act of blood sweat and tears (swearing, bloodshed and near blindness….) to turn the corner behind the counter from the old museum into this street scene from wartime Normandy. But the team has completed the task and we are ready to open for business!

Stuart and the team have created a false wall and wallpapered it with brick effect paper. They have then mounted shutters in the traditional green of Normandy homes to the wall. Next job was to work on the floor- cue blood sweat and many tears! The floor was created using silicon molding systems where concrete was poured onto the floor and then placing the mold on top of it until semi dry. The mold was then removed and placed in a different area of the floor until the whole area was molded into the cobbled street scene of a French village.

An awning has been built over the top of the wall and pulled out. Tarpaulin was then stretched across the ceiling of the museum to lighten the area and give the impression of an open sky. Chairs and tables have been sourced and set up on the cobbled street in front of the brick wall and the café was starting to take shape!

Traditional French style design panels have been added to the wall and even an authentic wireless is in place playing café culture music the likes of Edith Piath, Juliette Gréco et al.

The café will be opened on the first day of our Tank Paintball season, from Saturday 2nd April. Serving coffees and teas, cakes, baguettes and sandwiches, soups and of course chocolat chaud, cold drinks and confectionary it’s the perfect spot for a pre- or post tank paintball battle re-fuel.

The café also has a convoy of WWII vehicles parked up alongside it- as if in wartime France. All you need is a beret and you will feel transported.. well, a glass of Bordeaux may help! For now though it’s soft drinks only.

The extension of the museum has provided as a lot more space to display the military vehicles we have on site at Armourgeddon. As you enter the new hanger, you will be able to see the Green Goddess Fire Engine, a Chieftan Tank, the Bell-47 helicopter and many more tanks and vehicles. The vehicles are open at the back to see what it would have been like to operate and work in that environment. Walking through the middle of the vehicles also gives you a real feeling on their proportions as they rise up far above head height.

Back round into the original part of the museum, there is a section showing video footage and a short documentary about WWII and finally- especially useful for children in Key Stage 2 Primary School, an Anderson Shelter. The Anderson Shelter was designed in 1939 by William Paterson and Oscar Carl (Karl) Kerrison, at the request of the Home Office. Named after Sir John Anderson, the then Lord Privy Seal, Anderson was responsible for preparing air-raid precautions prior to the outbreak of WWII. Anderson Shelters were designed to accommodate up to six people and were constructed with six curved galvanized corrugated steel panels bolted together at the top forming the main body of the shelter. Three straight sheets were bolted to both sides and a further 2 panels fixed to both ends- one containing a door. The shelters were 1.8m (6 feet) high, 1.4m (4.5 feet) wide and 2m (6.5 feet) long. Buried 1.2m (4 feet) deep in soil and then covered with a minimum of 38cm (15 inches) of soil above the roof. Earth banks were then planted with flowers and vegetables and were often the focus of neighbourhood competitions.

The shelters were issued free to any household earning less than £5 per week- that would equate to £280 a week in 2016 when adjusted for inflation. Those earning a higher income were charged £7 (£390 in today’s money) for their shelter. There were 1,500,000 of these shelters distributed between February 1939 and the outbreak of the war. During the war years, a further 1.1 million were erected, many being produced at John Summers & Sons ironworks at Shotton on Deeside where production peaked at 50,000 shelters per week. 

The Armourgeddon museum Armourgeddon Museum is open from the 2nd April until the end of October, every day of the week from 9am to 5pm. Entry is £5 with under 5s gaining free entry. If you are participating in an activity or are a passenger in another activity on site, your entry to the museum is also free.

For information on days outside of these times and for group bookings, please contact the office on 01858 880239

For now, it’s off to Café de Normandie for us for a café au lait. Salut. Â bientot!


French Cafe  Normandy Cafe Scene 

1940s French cafe  Armourgeddon cafe



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