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Knockaloe Camp tray

Date made: 1915-1918

Description: A brown stained and unvarnished rectangular wooden tray with an decorative wooden rim. The tray has been made using steel screws and has folding wooden legs so that it can also be used as a breakfast tray in bed. The tray is made up of wooden boards and has hinged folding legs. The tray is a typical example of the space saving and multi-functional objects made by internees in the camps such as Knockaloe Camp.

The underside of the tray is stamped 3095, possibly the number of the prisoner who made the item. There is a Douglas Internee of this number, Carl Ahlfeld, possibly the maker.

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: 7.5 x 57 x 37.5 cm

Materials: wood

Object name: Tray

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 1996-0001



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