For the ‘Ruhleben - Lofthouse Park Civilian Internment Project’
Please click here for Part 1 of the blog.
The above image is of the new estate, which according to the developers is actually called Lofthouse Park, which is interesting since that was also the name of the internment camp, so maybe not thought through too well (the roads in the new estate mostly begin with ‘Springfield’ so this may have been a better name). However, from our calculations it is possible that the new estate does overlap the old camp to a very small degree, although it is the older estate to the south that seems to cover the ground that was the camp, along with the Peter Duffy field mentioned in the last blog. The older estate looks, predominantly, interwar and has a variety of different housing, quite a lot of which looks like ex-public housing.
The above images are on either side of the road that separates the two estates. There were a couple of telegraph poles on this road, but none on the new estate, since they are not needed any more. Opposite one of the telegraph poles (the one further on from the disturbing UKIP one shown above) there was the junction box, which you can just see in the other image. Tim Waters was interested in this infrastructure in relation to the old camp. I tried to find some information about the telegraph system that may have existed at that time, and interestingly came across this document, from The Rothwell Courier and Times, that discusses the escape of prisoners from the camp on July 3rd 1915: ‘How Two Men Got Away’.
I’m afraid I didn’t take enough photos of the old estate, as we didn’t know during the walk itself that this was the area that would have been the camp itself. However, I did get a picture of this lovely old shed. It’s pretty dilapidated (and made of corrugated metal, like the Nissan huts would have been) and we wondered if it could possible date back to the time of the camp.
The image above, while not on the camp site, is not too far away in the area called Lofthouse Gate and is a memorial for the Lofthouse Colliery There was a mining disaster there in 1973, although the memorial does not mention that. There is a memorial that does honour the dead in Wrenthorpe, which is not far from Lofthouse. The colliery would have also been there in WWI since the dates on the stone say 1871-1981. The border for the administrative districts of Leeds and Wakefield are in this area somewhere between Lofthouse Park and Lofthouse Gate.
Above I have included a super map by Tim Waters, which overlays the old camp on the current space. This map shows the area of the camp as an amusement park, which is what is was before it became the internment camp. You can just see there is a slight overlap at the north of what was the camp on what is now the new estate (see Springfield Rd and Springfield Ave). The area on the south-west of the new estate is the old estate (see Park Ave – maybe referring to the previous amusement park) and the field to the east of that is the scrubland owned by Peter Duffy.