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Knockaloe bone desk tidy

Date made: 1917

Description: A carved desk tidy made of beef bone, with a plain dark wood base, made in Knockaloe Civilian Internment Camp by an unknown internee. The desk tidy is designed as a water pump and a water trough. The water pump is similar in design to a small carved vase with a tree or bark pattern carved along stem with a wall pattern around the base. A three legs design is carved on with ''Knockaloe ' in a decorative panel on reverse. A small water spout and pump handle has been carved from bone and inserted in front and on side of the pump. A thin piece of dark wood is attached to the top and the pump is screwed to a matching polished dark wood base. The water trough is a hollowed out section of bone with a tree or bark pattern carved on outside and '1917' on front. The ends of the bone are capped with thin section of matching polished dark wood.

The carved bone desk tidy belonged to the donor's grandmother Mary Ann Watterson nee Quirk, Glen Maye area.

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 organization) 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: 16.5 cm x 15.5 cm x 9.5 cm

Materials: mammal bone, steel, wood

Object name: desk tidy

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 1992-0164



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