Its not like this is ancient history. Until recently there have been people alive who the question could be asked of. Excuse me Sir did you have any training in Trench Warfare? Yes. Well thanks that clears that up.
No different from the First day of the Somme stuff. "Why did they send the men in the first wave out burdened with all that kit?"
Maybe because that kit was needed to fortify the positions taken that had been smashed by artillery fire and built to face the opposite way?
I know that ScaleyDave is grumpy but the information given suggests that the content is based on aerial photos. How anyone can claim that the trenches were for research and development, rather than just practice, is beyond me if that's all the information they've got.
As I posted, there are more visible trenches near Rothbury and doubtless many more elsewhere. The sad thing is that there's a gap in the history books telling about the research that presumably went on - or did it, given that trenches weren't a new invention though WW1 France proliferated them.
There were trenches in the American civil war. And there were certainly trenches during the siege of Port Arthur in the Russo-Japanese war of 1905. So it shouldn't have come as a total surprise to the varying commanders that trench war developed in 1914.
My creaking memory says the trenches developed on an ad-hoc basis as the 'race to the sea' petered out and both sides recognised there was no open flank to exploit. They were also very variable in construction depending on both the soil and the height of the water table - indeed in some places the trenches were built of sandbags above ground level.
Given the extreme variability of trenches, it's difficult to see how research and development would have much impact on their construction. I could see trial trenches being constructed in order to develop information for a manual, but the big differences in the ground and the topology where the trenches were built in France, etc, would surely have prevented much standardisation.
Trenches have been dug by British squaddies since Cain and Abel were bickering in their prams.
The infantry and RE were both conversant with the need and theory in 1914, any shortfalls in equipment were down to a lying, hypocritcal Mancunian, pseudo-Gog Chancellor of the Exchequer called David (Lloyd) George...
There were trenches going back to medieval times and especially in the 17th 18th centuries, they were called saps (hence the name sapper) but they developed to an extraordinary level in 1915, from the simplistic trenches of earlier wars into intricate trench systems - the program uses aerial photography to map the remains via crop marks and promises to show how lessons from the end of the mobile phase of ww1 when the BEF and French halted the initial German advance and it settled into the stalemate of the popular view of trench warfare.
Whether it does meet that promise I will have to wait and see.........