Heritage Open Day 2016: Lofthouse Park’s forgotten history, 1900-1919

HOD1_WB_4WEBCommunity event explores why time stood still for hundreds of Germans and Austrians in a Yorkshire village during the First World War.

Heritage Open Day Sunday, 11 September 2016

Lofthouse Gate Working Men’s Club, 12 Canal Lane, Lofthouse, Wakefield, WF3 3HN

11-16.00 Display, refreshments and children activities
11.00 and 14.30 Guided walk (c. 45-60 mins)
12.00 Mapping workshop (45 mins)
15.00 Performance (c. 20 mins)

Free event and open to all

LofthouseStreetSign_SternbergPeople from South Leeds, Rothwell, Lofthouse, Outwood and Wakefield are invited to discover what went on in the now vanished Lofthouse Park between 1900 and 1919. Historical documents and a guided neighbourhood walk reveal why and how the park was turned from an aerodrome and place of popular entertainment to an internment and prisoner-of-war camp for German and Austrian civilians and officers in World War One.

Lofthouse Park Camp © IWM (Q 56595)

Lofthouse Park Camp © IWM (Q 56595)

Visitors find out about ‘enemy aliens’, individual internees, life in the camp and the odd escape, based on ongoing research of In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time, a project that brings together historians, descendants, residents, students and pupils from Britain and Germany.

But the camp itself is not the only focus of the day. This Heritage Open Day is an opportunity for anyone to come and share knowledge, stories and documents relating to the local area in the first two decades of the 20th century. Perhaps people living around Park Avenue, Park Square and Park View or working for Peter Duffy Ltd. have even found objects that could be dated back to the time of the camp.

The project team is also searching for descendants of the German and Austrian internees at Lofthouse and of British camp guards from the Royal Defence Corps. Indicative names, addresses and other points of reference are provided on a separate page. Family members and family historians are invited to get in touch with Claudia Sternberg (c.sternberg@leeds.ac.uk).

In addition to looking at documents on display and going on a walk led by independent historian David Stowe, visitors can try their hand at reconstructing Lofthouse Park Camp in a mapping workshop. A short creative presentation by Heritage Corner’s Joe Williams and Leah Francis puts Lofthouse Park Camp in the wider context of civilian internment during the First World War, which affected tens of thousands of families in Britain, Germany and beyond.

The venue and guided walks are child-friendly and fully accessible. Advance booking is only required for groups, but signing up for the walk on the day is appreciated. Children’s activities are offered throughout the day and refreshments are available.

More details: https://goo.gl/BYr19I

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