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Douglas or Knockaloe Camp decorative smoker's cabinet

Date made: 1914-1918

Description: A wooden cabinet with marquetry decoration on front and sides, creating a crazy patchwork' effect with section of detailed marquetry inlaid work within the overall pattern. The basic wooden (pine) carcass is covered with marquetry designs all over to give impression of random patchwork pattern with smaller geometric designs within the pattern. The cabinet has one large drawer at the base with two cupboards above flanking a central smaller drawer and open alcove. There are two smaller drawers above the doors. The drawer fronts are decorated in detailed geometric marquetry designs with cross and cross patterns on the large drawer and polygonal (tumbling blocks) pattern on the top two drawers. The central alcove, open cupboard has three oval inserts in base but no indication of what they held. The cabinet may be a smokers' companion made to hold pipes and personal items etc. and appears to have been made in Douglas or Knockaloe internment camps.

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: 35.7 x 36.2 x 15.5 cm

Materials: wood

Object name: cabinet

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 1998-0390



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