Terry Hughes was only a young schoolboy when a new housing estate near his home in Huyton became an Internment camp for potential ’emeny aliens’ during World War 2.
But he does remember the camp – and even has fond memories of some of the people who stayed there.
Terry was one of those who came forward with recollections about Huyton’s role in World War 2 as part of a research project by Knowsley Archive Resource.
The Internment camp was set up in 1940 to accommodate German and Austrian civilians who were deemed a potential threat to national security. It was formed around several streets of empty council houses on Woolfall Heath, boarded by a high fence.
“I used to pass the camp going to school and coming home from school,” recalls Terry. “One main road separated the local people and the internees on the other side. The camp had double-barbed wire all the way around it.
“We mixed quite well with the internees, I remember. The people in there were quite pleasant. They had money to spend, so they used to ask us kids to go to the shops and get them things that weren’t on rations – like a loaf, cakes, vegetables, things like that – there weren’t many things that weren’t on rations at that time.
“We always brought the stuff back – and we brought the change back too, kids were very honest in those days!”
Terry recalls that, as well as people living in the houses within the Internment camp, many people also slept in tents in the open spaces between them due to overcrowding.
It must have been a remarkable sight to see on your doorstep as you were growing up, but until the recent research efforts by Knowsley Archive Resource – which resulted in an exhibition in Huyton library – many people living in the area today were unaware of Huyton’s fascinating past during World War 2.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some people living in the houses which were once part of the internment camp, who have no idea who the original occupants were,” says Terry.
Discover more fascinating history of Knowsley
Archive Resource Knowsley (ARK) is a collection of the borough’s historical records and documents that reflect the social and political history of the communities that make up the modern borough of Knowsley. The unique collection includes maps, photographs and documents; some dating back as far as the 13th century, which tell stories of real people living and working in the area.
The community history projects enable people to learn about Knowsley’s history and heritage, and participate in capturing more of these stories through different mediums such as oral histories, drama, photographs, film and artwork, which are then deposited in the archive for future generations to access.
The ARK collection can be accessed at the ARK in Kirkby Library.
Call in during library opening times or telephone to make an appointment outside of these times on 0151 443 4365.
Find out more about the ARK
You can also read the Archive Resource Knowsley blog