About Plugstreet 14-18 Interpretation Centre
Plugstreet 14-18 Interpretation Centre is a modern museum about World War One located near the British Memorial in Ploegsteert, Belgium. Among its exhibits, Plugstreet 14-18 has a film about the events leading up to the Great War as well as a 400 metre-squared high-tech scenography display of the battlefield.
Entered through a glass pyramid, it’s immediately clear that Plugstreet 14-18 Interpretation Centre is a very modern museum. The museum looks at the events and living conditions endured by both soldiers and civilians, offering a moving account of life during World War One.
Plugstreet 14-18 Interpretation Centre history
In November 2013, a glass pyramid-shaped centre opened deep in the Ploegsteer Wood. The centre’s function was to provide visitors with a detailed and interactive experience that explores the living and fighting conditions of those in Wallonia, Belgium, during World War One.
The centre gained its name from the British soldier’s nickname for the Belgian village of Ploegsteer, renaming it ‘Plugstreet’. The village was continually a site of conflict throughout the war, and over the years transformed into a labyrinth of billets, cafes and canteens surrounded by a network of trenches leading to the eastern front.
In the fields just outside of Plugstreet, the Christmas Truce of 1914 took place as exhausted troops declared an unofficial ceasefire. Both sides fraternised, and over the hour conversation, haircuts and a football game ensued.
The centre was also structurally designed to reflect the major engagements of the area. In particular, the centre’s partial subterranean design paid homage to the Battle of Messines Ridge in June 1917 during which Anzac tunnellers dug miles of ‘catacombs’ which allowed for thousands of tonnes of explosives to be detonated underneath the enemy position. The impressive glass pyramid likewise evoked Hill 63, a nearby Allied observation point.
Plugstreet 14-18 Interpretation Centre today
Today, visitors to the Plugstreet 14-18 Interpretation Centre are spoilt with innovative and high-tech story-telling of the underground battle, which includes photographs, films, relief maps and touch screens. Both the British and German as well as military and civilian positions are presented to you, in an attempt to give the momentous conflict a human approach.
Archival documents are explained in Dutch, French, English and German and are explored through 3 themes: the Battle of Messine, the catacombs and the 1917-18 winter. The centre has become a major stop along any battlefield tour, open every day from 10am to 5pm and located only 9 miles from Ypres.
Getting to Plugstreet 14-18 Interpretation Centre
If driving from Ypres take the N365 for 17 minutes and there is parking at the centre. Via public transport, the centre’s closest bus stop is just outside at Ploegsteert Gedenksteen on route 72 from Ypres taking 22 minutes.