Lancashire had its fair share of POW and Internment Camps, some in the most unlikely places. The Internment Camps were a dark part of the war, whose story is rarely told (see more details below). Thousands of Italian and German POWs and Internees passed through Lancashire during the war and afterwards during repatriation. Some even stayed on afterwards and settled down here.
These camps could be anywhere - sometimes in old dissused cotton mills requisitioned by the Government. They were often not fit for purpose and many innocent people suffered great hardship in these places.
Stanhill Camp, between Stanhill and Knuzden, started as an anti-aircraft gun battery before expanding to become a purpose built POW camp made of wooden huts. Below is a model of the camp (built by J. Whittaker in 1997).
It is on display at Oswaldtwistle Mills along with lots more information and displays about the camp.
Above: Left: Burrs Mill, Bury Middle Left: Knuzden/Stanhill camp Middle Right: Warth Mill, Bury Right: Lowercroft, Bury
Warth Mill in Bury is known as an "infamous" POW Camp. The former Cotton Mill was adapted to house Italian internees and later German POWs.
We were first alerted to this site by Stefano Paolini's investigations into Italian internees. It was also mentioned in Tom Conti's BBC Radio 4 documentary.
The Ainsworth Village or Lowercroft Camp (near Walshaw, Bury) was on the edge of Ainsworth Village (on the Bury - Bolton border) and in part of what is now Lowercroft, Bury. This was a purpose built camp of wooden billets - but its function is a bit mysterious. What did the "School Of Electric Lighting" really do?
Another cotton mill in Bury, another unsuitable POW/Internment camp.
This mill, sat in a valley by the river Irwell, must have been a very damp and unwelcome place to spend the war.
Learn more about Internment Camps (a part of the war rarely mentioned as it sits uncomfortably with the common perception of WW2) in this interview with Stefano Paolini: