Lancashire At War.co.uk

Exploring the hidden history of War sites in Lancashire

Lowercroft Camp - an interview with a local boy on the spot during WW2 - Mr Roy Turner

Roy Turner was a boy when World War Two started. He lived in Lowercroft within view of the Lowercroft Army Camp. He still lives in the area and in 2017 we interviewed him asking about his recollections of Bury during WW2 and the camp in particular. We have a seperate page about the camp HERE.

 

The following page is based on our interview with Roy in his own words.

Where the camp was:

“A lot don’t realise how big that camp was. As you went down Lowercroft Road, there was a row of stone houses, Woodside Terrace it was called. Opposite that there was an edge and then there was a wall carried on to the first detached house coming from The Bull. About the middle of that row, the fence went down the fields right to Dow Lane, fencing it off. And then it carried on the other side down to the bottom Lodge, up to the path that comes right round to where Haslam Hey was. And it must have come down, round under the gardens of Haslam Hey to the top of Dow Lane."

(See Roy's Map for his outline of the camp further down the page)

 

"There was a guard at Lowercroft end and a guard at Dow Lane end at the top. We couldn’t go through. If we wanted to go to Four Lane Ends where my Grandma and Grandad and Uncles lived we had to walk over the fields or the long way round. The only time I came through was in the Summer of 1946 when I had been to the Palais with some of my Uncles and we got off the bus at Walshaw, and there were some of the Army there in their civies. And they said “Where do you live?” and I said “Other side,” and they said, “How you getting there?” And I said “Walking all the way round,” they said “Walk through with us!”."

 

"I was born in the first house of Woodside Terrace (No.1, later Renumbered No.41).  Then we moved a bit further down. We moved back into the house I was born in, I’ll never forget, it was D-Day."

 

See No.1 (now No. 41) Woodside Terrace, Lowercroft Road Below: The original black & white photo at the top of the page is taken from the house at the other end of the row (No.63).

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Above: The only known photo of the camp in operation (courtesy of Roy Turner). Below: The same view today. According to Roy there was a sentry box and guard on this corner.

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The perimeter of the camp followed Lowercroft Road then on the bend, went straight on (BELOW) following the course of the Roman Road

Below: the camp's most western perimeter.

Below: The Middle Lodge - its bank was used as a firing range. On the horizon in the trees - the water tower  - where the Bren Gun carriers practiced.

Those that used the camp:

"Before that, the first lot I remember coming through were the Yeomanry. It seemed to be that it was all different lots coming in and out after they built the camp. They had paratroopers there once. And there were ATS down there at one time.

 

There were Bren gun carriers all over the top, training near the water tower. It all used to be heathland that, heather, and it set fire to it. Fire brigade was up all night.

 

There was a lot of talk about them [the Army], they’d been out the night before going away and I think they shoved a few garden walls over, things like that, coming from Bury.

 

But I never really took much notice of what went on in the camp. You could see in but you couldn’t see a great lot of what was going on. I know they had a firing range and they used to fire into the bank of the middle lodge.

I can remember them building the huts they seemed to go up quick and then there were the air raid shelters they built, they were like tunnels – dug down then dug it over. They were dotted amongst the huts. There were buildings both sides (of Lowercroft Road) as you went down. The old buildings are on the left at present – for the mill. On the other side there was old buildings too. There was a fire hole on the left hand side too with a big chimney and there was a fire hole where the garage is on the left hand side with a big chimney. And I am sure there was a walkway across at one time from side t’ t'other. They seemed to use the mill at the beginning. They must have put them in there while the camp was being built. The mill had been closed for a long time.

 

We did have one or two of the soldiers coming in sometimes for supper. And we had one come in regular. He lived in St Helens. He always seemed to be on guard, but off duty he used to come in."

 

Other recollections of the war in the area:

"I remember they dropped incendiary bombs (August 31st 1940), my wife’s father was in the Home Guard and they were at Heights Barn and he rushed down. They [Roy's wife to be's family] were in the cellar because the cottages where they lived before you get to the cross roads used to be part of the pub, the Dog and Partridge. And they’d left the trap door open and they thought there was one coming in and it was her father – he dropped straight in!"

 

Ref:Tottington V1 rocket and the threat of bombs generally:

"You could hear the flying bombs coming and you would see them shut off. ... But being young you never thought much about it. We stood on the banking, saw Manchester blazing away, but you didn’t just realise there were folk there that had been killed."

 

Our thanks to Roy for taking the time to talk to us and to our Uncle Jim for suggesting and then organising the whole thing.

Lowercroft camp map final

Above: A map showing the rough area of the camp according to Roy's recollection. The red circles mark where the sentry box and guards were.

The base of this map is reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland - SEE LINK HERE 

It is an excellent FREE resource.

More of Roy's recollections:

"The army dug us out in 1940 when we had that very bad snow. Then one Sunday morning we were going up to my Grandmothers and they fetched them back from Dunkirk. And I remember there were still some acting the fool at night, having fun, even though they’d been through all that. And I think that people were bringing them cups of tea and that. And I am sure my mother had a Seargent’s wife staying with her. I don’t know if it was anybody who had relatives near …some of the people seemed to take them in. Only for a couple of days."

Many of the soldiers who came back from Dunkirk were housed in the mill (Right and Below)

 

Top Left photo - The Sentry Hut would have been just above the lamp post on the right hand side at the crossroads of Dow Lane and Lowercroft Road.

Bottom Left photo - Part of the stone for the Fire Hole can still be seen (to the left of the yellow skip), outside the modern garage.

Bottom Right photo - the lodge behind the mill.

Below: The cross roads of Dow Lane and Lowercroft Road where one of the two sentry boxes and guards would have been.

Alice Graysharp has written a book which features Lowercroft Camp in it.

It is called The Keeping of Secrets and links to it are below.

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Above & Below: The North Eastern perimeter.