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Remembered Today:

HANDFORTH INTERNEE CAMP


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Hi

I am looking for photos and info about the Handorth Internment camp in Cheshire.

This is where my Grandfather was interned in 1915.

I would be grateful for any info at all.

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This is a hotchpotch summary of what I know so far...

It was opened in early November 1914 from a converted factory. It had been built for the Bradford Dyer's Association, but for some reason they had never completed it or moved in, so engineers converted it into a camp. There had been a plan to use it as a training camp for reserve battalions of the Manchester Regiment, but the War Office overuled this and used it to inter enemy aliens. It was a big event for local people, and people coming to try to get a look at the prisoners was a problem to the guards, with large crowds gathering at weekends. There were obviously nerves amongst the guards, as in November 1914 one guard bayoneted another who did not respond to his challenge. By early 1915 there were almost 3000 held there, with around 250 guards. Internees were mostly civilians, with some merchant seamen. A large contingent were brought over from West Africa.

That's as far as I've got so far - only been reading accounts up to early 1915 so far.

There is a picture of prisoners being marched from the station I've seen in a few different places that you can probably find online somewhere...

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Welcome to the Forum, Pearl Jam.

I'd rather hoped Jon would have had the full story on the camp. Handforth falls neatly through a hole between our two research patches. And, I'm afraid, I have no idea where it was.

A quick Google suggests that the Local Heritage Library at Stockport has some information, although I don't know what it might be. Just from some reports in the Stockport papers, I think that 2/6th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment provided guards at the camp - and often seem to have sent firing parties for funerals of Stockport soldiers.

Sorry not to be more helpful.

John

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Jon

I'm guessing here - but do you reckon that photo is showing them lined up on the road outside the station? In the background, the road rises which may be the bridge over the railway line. If so, then the column is faced to march away from the village.

I wonder if that gives a clue as to where it might have been. The only "industrial" site I can think of down that road was/is the CWS warehouse. Just speculating if that could have been it.....

John

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I have a book of photographs published in 1918 which includes 20 of Handforth as follows;

Handforth: General view of the barracks

Parcels arriving from home

The Unter-Offiziers' gardens

In quarters

An unter-offizier in his garden

The sailors' afternoon nap

The reading room

The football team

The football team: a good dribble

The lending library

Physical drill, taken by one of the prisoners' own officers

The office (note the war map on the wall)

Behind the scenes: preparing for amateur theatricals

The rehearsal

The chapel

An artist at work

An unter-offizier at needlework

A model ship, built by a marine

The kitchens: Clearing up

General quarters

These were taken by the RFC c1917 and the originals are more than likely in the IWM, certainly others in the book are. I could scan them if you want but you would need to PM me with an e-mail address. The scans will not be fantastic but will give you an idea of what the camp was like and if you want good copies then I would try the IWM. They may even be available to order on line but I don't know.

Doug

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This is the best description I have of the buildings and where they were, although to be honest half a mile from the station and could cover nearly anywhere in Handforth, and visible from the Manchester to Crewe line only limits it to the eastern half...

The Advertiser, 9 October 1914

"The print works buildings at Handforth are being converted into a place of internment for Prisoners of War. Huge sheds a quarter of a mile in length, with a block of offices at one end and a large red brick chimney, erected four years previously by the Bradford Dyers Association, who for some reason abandoned the scheme to establish works at Handforth. The buildings are complete except for some internal details. It is situated in a hollow half a mile from Handforth Station, a by road leading to it with only occasional traffic, and is visible from the Manchester to Crewe line. It will be spacious and healthy, if rather comfortless, with a clamour of rooks in the trees outside. A team of engineers arrived on Monday evening, and were later joined by fifty more men. The War Office overruled the scheme to house the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the Manchester Regiment there, and stepped in and took it over. It will house 2000 to 3000, possibly both military and civilian prisoners."

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From this description, and working on the assumption that a dye works would need a constant supply of water, the most likely area I could think of is about here, roughly where Welland Road and Finsbury Way are: http://streetmap.co.uk/newmap.srf?x=385750...p=newsearch.srf

This is right on the river, in a hollow, roughly half a mile from the station, and, if you travel into Handforth from the south by train, you get an excellent view into the estate that has been built there now.

All complete guesswork, mind, and liable to be wrong. I'd speculate the estate must be 10-15 years old, but as a johnny come lately to the area I have no idea what was there before that...

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According to the Prisoners of War information Information Bureau the camp address; Rubber works, Handforth, Cheshire.

The general view of the barracks shows a very impressive building more akin to a stately home, brick built with stone mullioned windows, but there is a hint that this is just the frontage with industrial behind and which is either next to a large pond or a river but probably a river. There is no church spire or tower in view but on one of the views there looks like a railway embankment running alongside the fence.

Doug

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It's a while since I've been down Dean Road (since the bypass, Jon) but isnt that just about where the CWS was?

There's gotta be some old maps somewhere. Wilmslow Library?

It has to be the right spot - but I can't recall what used to be down there before. I only really ever went to the CWS circa 1980(I used to work for another division briefly).

John

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According to the old map (1882) on www.old-maps.co.uk, there was a works to the left of the railway and north of the river called Handforth Bleach Works.

Doug

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OK. I think we can be certain where it was. The modern and old maps agree that it was in the area adjacent to the small river. It's the River Dean (and the road that now runs past the site is Dean Road.

I am certain that the printworks will have been printing on cotton and calico, not paper, and will have worked in conjunction with the bleaching and dying works.

Kelly Directory for 1914 mentions the Handforth Bleaching Company.

John

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There might be some mention of this camp in the fourth booklet listed here:

http://www.genfair.com/shop/pages/ang/page05.html

Then again, there might not, as most German civilians ended up on the Isle of Man.

It might be worth an email to the "Anglo-German Family History Society" anyway. Some people descended from the other internees might be members. Also, photos and notes etc might still be in the family.

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I actually have a copy of that book and it is what it says on the cover ie entirely devoted to the Isle of Man but it does cover both wars. They have another publication, one of their own, re internees which is very useful but it does not cover Handforth either (listed on page 2).

Doug

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The Anglo - German FHS book has a map of the main camps at the back and describes this camp as a military camp, which is in fact all that the photographs show. Presumably all the civilians were moved out at some time.

Doug

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I actually have a copy of that book and it is what it says on the cover ie entirely devoted to the Isle of Man but it does cover both wars. They have another publication, one of their own, re internees which is very useful but it does not cover Handforth either (listed on page 2).

Doug

If you email them with details of your interest they might put you in touch with fellow members who have researched this camp.

There are bound to be members of the A-GFHS who had family in that camp at some stage. It is quite likely that they kept a diary, and that photos, memoirs etc exist.

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Well, I've been for a nosy, and apart from the mill pond shown on the map at post #13, there's nothing "industrial" left in the area - modern housing on the area that was the print works, as Jon said earlier.

I still reckon Stockport Library may be Pearl Jam's best bet for information

John

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I have done a lot of research into the 'Brummie Germans'. 101 Brummie German males were sent to Handforth for internment - the vast majority in May and June 1915 i.e. part of the post-Lusitania hysteria. The most common occupations were electrician, hairdresser, clerk, waiter, tailor, pork butcher, music hall artist.

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Hi Jon Armstong

Wow I am overwhelmed at the response.

Thank you so much.

I will look into all replies.

It is so frustrating as I saw only one photo of my grandfather who died in 1942.

My cousin had this and has now disappeared to Texas.

I look at all photos of internees and wonder.

:)

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Hi John Hartley

Thank you for the welcome.

I phoned stockport heritage library after seeing your reply and they have kindly copied all they had in the Handforth internee folder.

The camp was 1/2 a mile from the station.

I will sit and go through it tonight.

I was surprised and very thankful for all the info everyone has supplied.

Thank you so much.

:)

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Hi Beppo sapone

Thank you so much for your reply.

I will try the Anglo German History Society.

I wonder how to find out if my Grandfather was transferred to the I.O.M.

I know in the second world war that he had to go to a tribunal and was excused because of failing health and the fact that he had 4 sons serving this country in the Royal navy and R.A.F.

Once again thanks for the info much appreciated. :)

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Hi Beppo sapone

Thank you so much for your reply.

I will try the Anglo German History Society.

I wonder how to find out if my Grandfather was transferred to the I.O.M.

I know in the second world war that he had to go to a tribunal and was excused because of failing health and the fact that he had 4 sons serving this country in the Royal navy and R.A.F.

Once again thanks for the info much appreciated. :)

Finding details of transfer to the Isle of Man might not be easy. One crucial source if it exists would be the police aliens register. I have 900+ 'aliens' (Brummie Germans) on my database from the Birmingham Police District from 1914. It details where they were sent; any that ended up on the Isle of Man had usually been sent to Handforth, Newbury Racecourse or Queensferry first. I used to be a member of the Anglo-German Family History Society and their publications and back mag issues should be helpful.

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Hi Alan Tucker.

Thank you so much for the reply.

My Grandfather was sent to Handforth in 1915.

He married my Nan and lived in Salford Gtr M/cr. His trade was carpentry.

I think I will try and contact the I.O.M. records library to see if he was transferred to there.

Thank you :)

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