“Sorry to Detain You!” talk by Jill Quirk

report by John Slater

What a splendid start to the indoor season of Peel Heritage Trust – people who arrived at the last moment were searching for seats!

Jill Quirk, Blue Badge Guide, has made a name for herself with her husband Anthony, as resident specialists on Peel Headland. Conducted tours and visits to their relocated WW2 air raid shelter are recent successes.

The Peveril Internment Camp held men known or thought to be a risk during the WW2. Some of these were English and others Irish.

The effect on the local population was dramatic. Seeing barbed wire go up was bad enough but when their homes were confiscated, many lost their livelihoods as hoteliers, as well. They were ordered to leave basic furniture behind together with cutlery and other domestic items. No accommodation was offered to them or any compensation. Former residents became reliant on family and friends to give them shelter. All this had to be accomplished in a couple of weeks!

We were shown maps of the affected areas from the promenade to Peveril Road and Walpole Road. Mount Morrison was then added as Camp M.

Guards from the East Lancs. Regiment were housed in the building on the promenade, more recently, the Fun Palace!

Amongst the internees were many innocent Italians, Germans and Jews who had been caught up in Britain as residents or refugees. Naturally, the anxious British authorities needed to remove them to a secure place. This was partly for their own safety from the general public who, naturally, regarded them with suspicion and might well take matters into their own hands.

Each house was responsible for food preparation and cleaning. Musicians, playwrights, artists and writers were drawn together and entertainment became more organised.  Paid work became available at nominal rates tidying up the Brooghs and working at Knockaloe. Sports included bowling and sea swimming, all under guard, of course. The Peel ‘Albert Hall’ was used for film shows. We were reminded that most of these people were innocent but because of their nationalities, had to be kept secure.

Many of Peel’s businesses were boosted by the need to supply the camps with bread, grocery and clothing. Money earned could be used for buying various items within the camp.

When a tunnel was discovered beneath Peveril Road, those responsible were sent to Walton jail. The Metropolitan Police took over camp security and were billeted in the Creg Malin.

We shared a number of individual’s stories and recorded the return, in recent time, of some of the former internees to share their memories with family and friends.

We will have a gala evening at our next meeting on Wednesday, 16th October at 7.30pm in the Centenary Centre. Sue King will give us “An Evening of Wonder” with the 19thc. Circus! This is very appropriate as this will mark Peel Heritage Trust’s 30th anniversary. Party food and drinks will be served in the adjoining Atholl Room. As always, all are welcome!