A RE-ENACTMENT of the Battle of Mudeford will feature at a new festival in Christchurch this autumn.

The Christchurch Heritage Festival will take place in October celebrating the town's smuggling past.

It is hoped if successful, the event will become an annual one, focusing on different periods of the borough's rich history.

This year's focus will be on the impact of smuggling on the town in the 18th century and titled, “Watch The Wall – Smugglers” taken from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “A Smuggler’s Song”.

Local historian Michael Andrews said: “We are looking for people who would like to get involved, whether to make a contribution or help with the planning and development of the festival over the coming years. It is hoped people from across the borough, including schools, businesses and individuals, will get involved.”

The organisers are represented by Christchurch Library, the Red House Museum, The Regent Centre, Christchurch council and local historians, writers and artists.

The events planned include walks, talks, competitions and re-enactments, including the 1784 Battle of Mudeford.

Unique for this year’s festival is to try to trace descendants of local smugglers and revenue men.

“We would be very pleased to hear from anyone interested, especially for our descendants' event,” local writer Julie Ratcliffe said.

“The scope of the festival is as wide as we can make it, for example we would like representatives of the town’s sailing fraternity this year as knowledge of the sea and harbour were intrinsic to the smuggling trade, so there is scope for water-related activities in the festival.”

In the 18th and early 19th centuries the smuggling of highly taxed goods was rife and Christchurch was the epicentre for these activities due to its beaches, harbour and two rivers – and lack of law enforcement.

Anyone interested in getting involved should contact the Regent Centre either by phone on 01202 499199 and ask for the Christchurch Information Centre, or call into the centre on the High Street where staff will be happy to take details.