Usk tank school going great guns
TANK driving, tactical shooting and even car crushing are among the activities proving popular at a Monmouthshire farm.
Five years ago arable farmer Alastair Scott set up ‘Tank School’ offering an activity day learning to drive a tank across the 130 acres of woodland and rough terrain in Little Trostrey Farm, Kemeys Commander, near Usk in a bid to cope with the downturn in arable farming.
Today, he runs a thriving business attracting hundreds of visitors from across Europe and the United States and has added to his collection of tanks, created a tank museum and tactical shooting range, while continuing to farm.
The museum features five military vehicles, housed in The Tank Museum of Wales, on the farm.
It is free to visit by prior arrangement and proving popular with local schools.
“I decided to diversify because I can’t make a living from arable farming, especially after the worst harvest in 80 years in 2008,” said Mr Scott.
Mr Scott, who bought a 40-tonne Polish T-55 AM2 battle tank in 1998 began offering activity days and has since added to his collection by taking delivery of a 19-tonne armoured personnel carrier, and 26-tonne military truck built to carry around 30 troops.
“People come for a good day out from stag, hen and birthday parties to corporate organisaions who learn to drive one of the tanks or the truck which reach speeds of up to 40mph,” said Mr Scott whose family has lived on the farm for more than 60 years.
He also owns Kemeys Commander Airfield, which he built.
“It’s a unique experience along with car, washing machine and computer crushing – although nobody has taken that up yet,” he added.
Mr Scott has also taken delivery of a Humvee - a modern vehicle used by the American armed forces.
He hopes to use the high-mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle on the road.
“We are bucking the trend and expanding and bringing money into the local economy,” said Mr Scott.
“Those coming to activity days book into local B&Bs and hotels for the weekend, visit the pubs and nearby towns and use taxis,” he added.
Tankschool has been used for filming the BBC2 series Sherlock and the film Zombies from Ireland and a Sky TV prgramme called Safebreakers.
“Since opening Tank School we have had visitors from Sweden, Germany, France and the United States, all of whom found out about us through our website,” added Mr Scott.
Activity days cost from £129. For details, visit the Tank School website via the link below.