Langdon Hills Westley Heights: The Essex country park which was once a WWII prisoner of war camp

It is laborious to consider a extra vital occasion in British historical past to have formed our id than World Struggle Two.

For many years, tales of the warfare have been handed down from technology to technology, and there are fixed bodily reminders of how the warfare affected the nation.

Unexploded ordnances nonetheless pop up throughout the county on occasion, because of the barrage of missed assaults on London.

Pillbox air raid shelters nonetheless stand in a few of Essex’s fields, and naval defence posts exist off our shoreline.

However there are some items of WWII historical past that have not stood the take a look at of time.

One among these was the previous Prisoner of Struggle camp which was once located in Laindon, Essex.

Hutted Camp 266

The cooks on the camp, who would all be Prisoners of Struggle themselves

After the warfare, enemy prisoners of warfare had been despatched to a camp which was located on the high of Langdon Hills.

Recognized at present as Beacon Subject and located on the nook of Dry Road, prisoners labored, slept and lived on the positioning for quite a lot of years.

In line with Laindon Historical past, it was often known as Hutted Camp 266 and was a working and transit camp which housed German prisoners of warfare earlier than they had been despatched onto different bigger camps elsewhere within the nation.

The navy had been located on web site and lived in a home in a area reverse the camp.

First constructed within the early Nineteen Forties, prisoners began arriving on web site in April 1945 earlier than being despatched to work on close by fields to restore injury dealt by previous air raids.

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There was reportedly sufficient room to accommodate as much as 800 prisoners, and though they had been prisoners, they had been in a position to dwell a group way of life.

The camp had its personal cooks, musicians and medical doctors, and native residents are recognized to have been pleasant with lots of the prisoners.

Some even invited them round for dinner, and in some instances, married them.

As soon as a number of the prisoners had been launched, quite a lot of them travelled again to their residence international locations, however others began households in Essex.

The camp housed prisoners till 1948 when it was shut down.

What’s it at present?

This field in Langdon Hills is where the camp used to be situated

This area in Langdon Hills is the place the camp was once located

For some time, the camp was saved largely the identical and used to accommodate employees on the close by Shell Haven Oil Refinery in Corringham.

At the moment, that refinery is the London Gateway Port after the oil refinery closed on the finish of the Nineties.

The camp solely belonged to Shell Haven for about three years, with the corporate leaving in 1951.

The Laindon Council contemplated reusing the positioning, however finally determined towards it.

Within the mid and late-Fifties, the Basildon New City was being deliberate and the Basildon Company – the Authorities-led firm created to supervise the Basildon undertaking – additionally considered utilizing the positioning.

However finally, they too determined to not and the camp and all of its amenities was demolished on the finish of the last decade.

To see outdated images out of your space, take a stroll down reminiscence lane beneath:

It briefly turned the brand new residence for an area cricket membership, earlier than being transformed into what it’s at present.

The realm the place Hutted Camp 266 stood was changed into a picnic space for the Westley Heights Nation Park.

At the moment, the picnic space has been transformed into an open area, with a small automotive park referred to as the Beacons Subject Automotive Park.

The park nonetheless attracts loads of guests to at the present time and has remained largely undeveloped for many years.

It implies that those that come to park within the automotive park to take pleasure in a canine stroll via the woods won’t ever know what was as soon as located there.

It is only one clear instance of the massive quantity of historical past hiding away in Essex’s previous.

To search out out extra about Hutted Camp 266, click on right here.

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