The housing of prisoners of war was long overdue for improvement. The Royal Navy Transport Board was in charge of prisoners of war. Norman Cross Depot aimed to improve their living conditions, and though it could house only some 5000 men, it was intended as a model for all such prisons to follow.
|a museum model of Norman Cross Depot|
|Model, now in Danish museum, created by prisoner of war|
It occurs to me to wonder what the residents of Peterborough and area thought when plans were unveiled for the building of the prisoner of war camp in their area. Was there a 'nimby' (not in my backyard) reaction?
|from Google maps - red balloon marks the site of Norman Cross|
Norman Cross Depot was mentioned in several of the magazines of the time. Cobbett's Weekly Political Register reported in 1802 that 1000 prisoners were moved from the Depot, eventually to be transported to Dunkirk. The Criminal Recorder remarked on the gambling prevalent among the prisoners. The Medical and Physical Journal, volume 12, contains "A Short Statement of the Result in the Practice of the Hospital for Prisoners of War at Norman Cross. Communicated by Leonard Gillespie, appointed Physician to the Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea."
Norman Cross Depot was an important development in the history of war and its effects. It was also a major factor in the social history of the Peterborough area. Given that senior French officers were allowed more freedom in their captivity and sometimes married into local society, detention centres like Norman Cross frequently fire the imaginations of storytellers!
'Til next time,