A MAN paid a fact-finding visit to Shoebury Garrison after discovering his great grandfather died there in a freak accident.

Antony Gould was researching his family history when he discovered his great grandfather, Col WA Fox Strangways, was commandant of the garrison in 1885.

He was one of seven men killed in an ammunition accident.

Visiting the garrison with his wife, Jennifer, Mr Gould was guided by historians Major Tony Hill and Judith Williams around the commandant’s house where Col Fox Strangways lived, the officers’ mess, the location of the accident and the Families’ Hospital built in Campfield Road, as a memorial to those who died.

They were also able to visit Garrison Church whereamemorial plaque listing the names of those who died, as well asamemorial cairn, are housed.

The tragedy happened on February 26, 1885, when a shell exploded while being prepared for loading, sending shrapnel flying at those in the immediate area.

The colonel was seriously wounded and had to wait nine hours for a surgeon to arrive from London, after which his legs were amputated. He died hours later.

Major Tony Hill said: “As a researcher, it is very satisfying to meet someone with personal family links to one of the early commandants.”

It is hoped when the Shoebury Heritage Centre opens in 2015 other people with links to ranges will come forward to share their memories.

Anyone with memories, information or artefacts they wish to share with the Shoebury Archives can contact Tony Hill or Judith Williams at shoeburymemories @live.co.uk