THIS is the ghost town locals left but never returned to.
The eerie village of Imber, on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, has stood empty for nearly 80 years.
Imber village is now strictly guarded by the British ArmyCredit: SWNS
Imber, on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, was abandoned during WWIICredit: Alamy
Abandoned houses stand in a once thriving village that now sits emptyCredit: Solent
An abandoned church, homes and town hall are all that remain of a once bustling village – locked securely behind metal gates.
But it had its heart and soul ripped out at the start of WW2 when residents were told to collect their belongings and leave.
It followed orders that the area was to be turned into a military training ground for the British Army ahead of the Allied invasion of mainland Europe.
Residents were dispersed to nearby towns and villages, understanding the evacuation would be temporary.
But even when the war ended, they were not allowed to return.
Ever since then, Imber, once home to 150 people, has stood empty bar visits by soldiers and the occasional tour.
That is until an exceptionally rare ceremony granted a fascinating glimpse into life inside the ghost town.
Raymond Nash’s remains were returned to the tiny settlement on Thursday for his funeral.
The great-grandfather and former mechanic, who died at the age of 87 last month, moved with his mother from his first home in December 1943, when he was just a baby.
He left Imber after his father died aged just 31 but always hoped to be buried alongside his father at St Giles Church in the village.
To be buried in Imber a person needs to have been born in or to have lived in the village.
Following special permission from the Ministry of Defence, Raymond’s funeral went ahead, the first of its kind since 2012.
Around 110 mourners attended Thursday’s service at St Giles Church to pay their respects.
Kelvin Nash, Raymond’s 63 year old son, said the family have only been able to visit the village on select, restricted-access visiting days run by the MoD.
Addressing mourners , Mr Nash – a councillor who lives in Devizes – said: “He told us all about his village life, nearly getting run down by the army trucks.
“It can’t have been easy growing up without a Dad but he made the most of life.
“Wherever his journey took him, he made new friends and always managed to lend a helping hand.”
There are still two or three people alive who were born in Imber who could qualify to be buried in the ghost town.
It means Raymond’s funeral could be the last ever to be held at St Giles Church.
Ray Nash’s family home at Imber after they were kicked outCredit: Solent
Imber is now used as a training ground for the British ArmyCredit: Alamy
Houses are boarded up in the ghost townCredit: PA:Press Association
Abandoned houses stand in a once thriving village that now stands emptyCredit: Alamy Live News
Raymond Nash’s remains were returned to the tiny settlement on Thursday for his funeralCredit: SWNS
Around 110 mourners attended Thursday’s service at St Giles Church to pay their respectsCredit: Solent
Raymond’s funeral could be the last ever to be held at St Giles ChurchCredit: Solent
The area is used as a live firing range by the armyCredit: Alamy Live News