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Jigsaw in original box hand-made in Knockaloe Internment Camp

Date made: c.1918

Description: Jigsaw puzzle of a train in a hand-made wooden box. The printed image is dated 1907 and the wooden box has handwritten inscription "The Overland Express 118 pieces Sectional Puzzle'. Hand made by an internee in Knockaloe Camp. The donor's grandfather was J.T. Baily, Industrial Superintendent of Society of Friends. One piece missing.

It has been suggested that the three pieces on the left of the picture in the shape of the letters 'CJF' are in fact the initials of the prisoner who made the jigsaw.

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 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. On this Committee was James Thomas Baily (1876-1957), a Quaker relief worker and professional carpenter and craftsman. After the outbreak of the First World War, Baily was approached by St Stephen’s House (the headquarters of the Friends’ Emergency Committee) with regards to the perceived problem of civilian internees. It was proposed that Baily would go to the Isle of Man and become an Industrial Advisor, using his skills to create productivity within Knockaloe. Under this scheme there were improvements in living quarters, equipment for games, libraries, gardening, theatre productions and various craft workshops. Baily’s influence stimulated a fairly large-scale production of toys, ornaments and furniture (including furniture created by designs of Charles Rennie Macintosh 1868-1928) with sales in Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Holland, Denmark and the United States. Baily’s role became so essential in the running of Knockaloe that in 1918 he became the Industrial Superintendent, transferring him to the Manx Government Service.

Materials: wood

Object name: jigsaw

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 2021-0071



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