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Knockaloe Camp wooden chest of drawers

Date made: 1914-1918

Description: A small rectangular chest of drawers, a decorative table-top chest of drawers with marquetry and inlaid decoration on a mahogany base. The chest has a triangular pattern border around the top, the veneers have lifted at one end of the top. There are 9 drawers of varying sizes from large to small with wooden turned handles or knobs and the drawers are surrounded by a fine decorative course of string banding. The chest was made in Knockaloe Camp and was collected by the Society of Friends as an example of the ingenuity of internees in making objects from scrap materials.

During the First World War (1914-1918) the Isle of Man was used as an internment base for civilian ‘enemy aliens’. Its biggest camp was known as Knockaloe Camp, Patrick, situated in the west of the Island (other historic names referring to the camp include Knockaloe P.O.W. Camp, Knockaloe Prisoner of War Camp and Knockaloe Alien Detention Camp). Originally designed for 5,000 people, at its peak it housed up to 23,000 men and as many as 30,000 men may have been interned in total. 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: 13 cm x 41 cm x 19 cm

Materials: mahogany, wood

Object name: chest of drawers

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: L22135/5



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