Author Topic: WW1 Internment Camp at Knockaloe  (Read 79330 times)

Offline knockaloe.im

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Re: WW1 Internment Camp at Knockaloe
« Reply #108 on: Thursday 21 May 15 23:02 BST (UK) »
Many thanks for the questions. Let me deal with each in turn:

Firstly Patrick village.  The Old Schoolrooms (which will house the Visitors Centre) and Patrick Church are the hub of the village and both played a unique role in the Knockaloe Internment Camp story. The Schoolrooms in their current form date back around 150 years, replacing the previous school, and there has been a church in Patrick Village since 1719. Yvonne Cresswell at the museum made the point about the mystery of the Patrick village population which peaked at just under 3,000 in 1851 but she has long felt the need for the story of what happened in the 1800s to halve the population. You will see on our website that we aim to do just that. But at the start of WW1 and for much of the 20th century, the village still had a shop and two churches  - and about 4 pubs incredibly!

As the Knockaloe internees began to arrive, Patrick Village was full of people. If you look through the newspapers of the time, there were many stories about the pubs needing to shut at certain times and regarding the Guards use of them, the Schoolrooms themselves were used for the court hearings regarding the camp inquests into deaths and any other legal cases such as petty theft by internees etc. The Patrick Church graveyard adjacent to the Schoolrooms became known as “Camp 5”, the resting place for those internees who sadly died. Whilst the German and Austro-Hungarian internees were reinterred to Cannock Chase, the graveyard has remains “Camp 5” for two Jewish and 7 Turkish internees as well as a number of guards. The Jewish graves are well visited with the stones atop marking a visit. Only this year planning permission was granted for a flag to be erected by the Turkish Government for the Turkish internee graves.

The ribbon of houses facing the camp are interesting themselves. I believe that along here is where the Quakers were based, JT Bailey being so fundamental to the internees in developing the industrial aspects, the woodwork and craftwork (he organised the beef bones for carving and when there were insufficient on the island he actually imported them to the camp).  In addition, you can still see clearly one of these houses utilises a hut in its construction.

The Schoolrooms themselves are the ideal spot for the Visitors Centre. They directly face the camp entrance and you can clearly see the four camps laid out before you as the Knockaloe land slopes gently upwards opposite.  Having researched and visited Somme and Omaha Visitors Centres, the Knockaloe Visitors Centre will provide an introduction to the camp and a self guided walk will take visitors from the Schoolrooms and graveyard, up through the camp area along the route of the railway, past the walls made of the foundations of all of the huts and past the buildings which housed the butchery etc and up to the train shed which was specifically built for the camp train, a Caledonian (indeed we have been offered a 2/3 sized replica Caledonian by a Patrick resident should we wish to reinstate it) towards the administration buildings and isolation hospital. On either side are the fields which are still in the formats of Camps 1,2,3 and 4 and actually, whilst they are just fields, it is this that the descendants really want to see - where their relative actually lived. I have not yet failed to be moved by the emotion felt by the descendants in seeing where their Grandfather, or Great Grandfather’s compound would have been. Despite seeing lush green fields in front of you, you can get a real sense of how packed it would have been. We will be using technology (via smart phones and iPads) and traditional information boards to help people to visualise what it would have looked like. For the more active the walk will be circular past the tennis court and allotment areas to the far side of camp 4 to show the view of the camp from the hill towards the see the view shown on the engravings done by the internees.

For the second question see next post

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Offline knockaloe.im

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Re: WW1 Internment Camp at Knockaloe
« Reply #109 on: Thursday 21 May 15 23:03 BST (UK) »
Continuing from the previous post regarding the Knockaloe Visitors Centre

In terms of the Visitors Centre Archive, we have agreed that it will link through to the Manx Museum (“imuseum”) archive and, in the same way we are currently doing via e mail, we will help people find out from the “imuseum”, the International Red Cross and other sources, including some excellent private collections, as much as possible about their family’s World War 1 internment story. It does need a fair bit of knowledge to understand what such information means in terms of telling the internment story of each internee. That aspect is time consuming but fascinating, and our volunteers will be there to help, either face to face or online .

With regard to the operational aspects of the Visitors Centre, it has been fantastic to see our village come together on this.  As a team we have a huge amount of expertise to draw on.  I am a Trustee of The Milntown Estate, the historic house and gardens in the North of the Island, former home to the Christian family so I am used to dealing with the responsibility of ensuring it has available staff and volunteers and is financially viable, whilst remaining true to what the Settlor wanted for the Estate, and will be using this experience for the Visitors Centre for Knockaloe. Our Board is chaired by a lawyer and former Clerk of Tynwald, it also has two Chartered Accountants, farmers, local tourist accommodation owners, a doctor to name but a few, as well as commitments of help from many others, all of this is voluntary. Indeed, the first person to approach us to offer to help man the visitors centre is herself a great granddaughter of an internee. This summer, I have a history student helping us with the archive and one of the Board's own staff members is also dedicated to assisting on this project.

It would be illogical to double up with what the Manx Museum is doing. Their resource is fabulous and we intend to continue to work with them. They fully supported the advantages of a site specific Visitors Centre. However, as a Government organisation with a public sector approach to overheads and construction, every site they have costs a phenomenal amount of money which is presumably why the “imuseum” is to close, and Knockaloe is not going to be sufficiently "mobbed" to be able to cover such costs, rather it will tend to attract those with a specific interest (although we shall be actively encouraging the schools). We shall of course encourage our visitors to visit their fabulous flagship museum in Douglas which provides an excellent explanation of internment across the island, similarly there is the independent Leece Museum in Peel, which has a superb collection of artefacts and we want to also work with them. Our "angle" is very much listening to the human stories and helping descendants fully understand their own internee's experience of World War 1, of which the Isle of Man formed one part, and, as part of this, we want to help descendants and others visualise what the rolling hills would have looked like 100 years ago, and how the families torn apart by internment would have felt, when our village became more populated than the island's capital!

It will be a lot of work for us all but we passionately believe that it is important, Our work has already started online, however the Visitors Centre will be a long process. Whilst the community has raised well over £100,000 to date, we have over twice that to go to set the exhibition up with appropriate disabled etc facilities. But this is not going to be a one off commemoration exhibition, rather a permanent, world class exhibition that gives a new purpose to the historic schoolrooms and preserves the stories of those internees for future generations. The initial Visitors Centre is just the start of the story. With the offer of a an original hut we have ideas a-plenty…

Any support anybody can give would be gratefully received – do look on our website
www.knockaloe.im for how to donate, for example by just sponsoring a bed – we have 23,000 to fill! The sooner we can get the Visitors Centre up and running, the sooner this legacy can be preserved and developed to help descendants around the globe.

Apologies for the long response, but hopefully this provides an explanation of what the registered charity is doing and why it is important, finally, 100 years later, to actually do something at Knockaloe itself to ensure it is protected for future generations. I am delighted to say the meeting last night went well. Government are looking to long lease the farm but committed to ensure that any lessee works with us so we can protect Knockaloe's WW1 heritage in a sympathetic manner.


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Offline Frances_mnb

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Re: WW1 Internment Camp at Knockaloe
« Reply #110 on: Friday 22 May 15 09:05 BST (UK) »
the 2928 persons in 1851 census were in the Parish of Patrick not the 'Village' (which is not even designated an area) - there were 18 families based on Knockaloe Moar (ie mostly farm workers) - the 'mystery' of the population is in the rise of mining in Glen Rushen from the 1840s and the fishing along the coast - the fishermen later moved to Peel (better harbour needed for the larger boats which started to dominate esp when the Mackerel fishery started in 1850s ) and the smaller mines mostly declined leaving the main site of the large Foxdale mines (hence the major growth in Foxdale Village and to a lesser extent Glen Maye) -  yes obvious the import of 25000 internees and the maybe 10% more guards etc would have had a major impact on the area requiring additional shops and pubs tho with an easy walk into Peel I suspect most growth in such facilities was there - not sure where your 2 churches come from - Manx parish churches were seldom in the centre of population (other than possibly Kk Michael) and Kk Patrick was there mainly because the Radcliffe's offered the land, the school followed later and the tiny Patrick Primitive Methodist chapel only appeared in 1873 - again Glen Maye + Foxdale had 2 chapels each - I'm afraid when I see somewhat exaggerated statements being made I begin to doubt the accuracy of much else.
any thing with a Manx Connection