On Thursday 1st August, The Springtown Camp Historical Group invited former residents of the Camp and the wider community to the unveiling of their specially commissioned art installation in honour of all those families who were housed in Springtown Camp between its opening in August 1946 and its closure in October 1967.

Springtown Camp, was formally an American navy base built during the Second World War, however, after the U.S. Navy had evacuated the camp at the end of the war, local people living in over-crowded terraced homes, sometimes three families living in one small house, broke into the camp and ‘squatted’ into the huts in August 1946.

 

Despite no electricity, running water or any means of heating, the huts were still viewed as being an improvement on that what the families had, as they afforded them more space. At its peak there were 304 ‘Nissen’ huts - about 90% corrugated tin and 10% wooden, housing over 400 families, with some huts being portioned into several rooms, housing generations of the same family.

 

The Art Installation is a scale replica model of the huts in which the families were housed, in huts measuring no more than 16ft x 36ft, on the old site of the Springtown Camp, which is now home to amongst others, the North West Regional College.

The project has been driven by former camp residents Willie Derry and Hugo McConnell. On the inspiration behind the project, Willie explained;

The desire to keep the history of the Springtown Camp community alive, was derived from my memory of the Mothers of the Camp, and a belief that their plight whilst rearing a family should be told to younger and future generations.

The legacy of the Springtown Camp is not confined to its initial ‘temporary’ nature, housing American navymen during WWII and subsequently the post-1945 ‘social housing’ residents, but became a milestone in the prolonged struggle for proper homes in the city and further afield.