Lancashire At War.co.uk
Exploring the hidden history of War sites in Lancashire
Stanhill / Knuzden WW2 POW Camp
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 elsewhere on this site). 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. Above is a model of the camp (built by J. Whittaker 1997). It is on display at Oswaldtwistle Mills - along with other fascinating Local History displays from the Prehistoric to WW2.
The various source documentation in the display say that this was an Italian POW camp, which after the war housed German POW's waiting for repatriation (1946-47). But we wonder whether it could have been an Internment Camp for Italian nationals who lived in the UK at the outbreak of the war?
The aerial photos to the Left are coutesy of Mario Maps (used by kind permission of Lancashire County Council). They are from the 1940's, the 1960's (showing a new housing estate) and a modern view showing the M65 motorway ploughing through the site. Fortunately the site was recorded by the Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit before the motorway destroyed the site. Much of these records can be seen at the Oswaldtwistle Mills display.
There is mention in the displays that before the anti-aircraft guns, the site might have been a searchlight battery.
If anyone knows anything more about this site we would love to hear about it.
There are more photos of the model of the site below.
Below are some photos from the Oswaldtwistle Mills display of the GMAU report which recorded the site before it was destroyed by the M65 motorway.
A site visit in September 2013 - Below Left: The site is now part of the M65 motorway.
Below Right: The edge of the site today - underneath the large trees at the right hand end are the two bases of buildings from the site, right next to the M65.
Still standing in 2013
Right: Building 24?
Left: Building 25?
Below: Building 24?
More soon AND we think there is a pillbox still in existence!
Further below: The GMAU description of these buildings.
UPDATE: October 2017
The photographs below are courtesy of Lewis Gregory of the Hyndburn Heritage & Community Group.
More details below.
The six photos above are part of a small display made by Lewis Gregory and can be seen at the Hyndburn Heritage Museum in the Arndale, Accrington. We do not know when they were taken but obviously pre-date the building of the M65. Sadly, Lewis Gregory died this year before we had a chance to ask him about his photos and knowledge of the site.
RIGHT: A sketch of the site by Lewis Gregory. It contains an interesting piece of information: "adjoining area covered with camoflage netting raised on posts for vehicle park".
Please visit and support the Hyndburn Heritage and Community Group's display in the Arndale Centre in Accrington. It has lots of artefacts, displays, books and information on show and the volunteers there are very friendly and knowledgeable.
They also have some interesting World War One and World War Two displays and artefacts.
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