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Douglas Camp tray

Date made: 1914-1918

Description: A small wooden tray made up of four lengths of wooden moulding screwed together to make a frame and a wooden backboard screwed into the frame. The inside of the tray has been lined with a sheet of 'ox-blood' red linoleum. The linoleum has been decorated with a geometric and stylised floral chip carved design in a diamond pattern with the three legs design and Latin motto incised in the centre. The tray is made of scraps and reused pieces of wood with the back board covered in scratch marks and drawing pin holes. Some of the holes go through the paper label, which may indicate the back of the tray was used as a work top. The remains of a handprinted paper label is still on the back of the board with 'Prisoners ... Art...D...' on the label. The original label would indicate that it was made in Douglas Internment Camp. The tray is of basic construction, having been fastened together using screws.

The tray was made by a Douglas Camp internee and originally belonged to the donor's great uncle, Andrew Kleiser, a jeweller from Holyhead, Anglesey. It then passed to the donor's great aunt, Nellie Kleiser and then her sister, Blanche Bateden (grandmother) and Barbara Kenrick (mother). Andrew Kleiser may have collected it in payment for debts.

During the First World War (1914-1918) the Isle of Man was used as an internment base for civilian ‘enemy aliens’. They were held in two camps, a requisitioned holiday camp in Douglas and a purpose built camp located at Knockaloe near Peel on the west coast of the Island. These held at their peaks over 4,000 and 23,000 men in some cases for nearly five years between opening in 1914 and final closure in 1919. Over 30,000 men passed through Knockaloe between 1914 and 1917, more than the population of Douglas. Other historic names referring to the camp include Knockaloe P.O.W. Camp, Knockaloe Prisoner of War Camp and Knockaloe Alien Detention Camp. The confinement of the prisoners led to specific behavioural issues known as ‘barbed wire disease’. Receiving its name from the aimless promenading of inmates up and down the barbed-wire boundary, other symptoms included moroseness and avoidance of others. It was decided that providing practical stimulation would help. The Friends’ Emergency Committee (a Quaker organisation) based in Great Britain was invited to the Island from 1915 onwards with the aim of providing books, tools, equipment and materials for the inmates to work and establish workshops.

Measurements: overall: 4 cm x 24 cm x 37 cm

Materials: Processed Material, steel, wood

Object name: Tray

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 1998-0111



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