The Centre for World War One Internment opens

After six years' work, the Centre for World War One Internment (Knockaloe Visitor Centre) and Internee Database, collating and detailing information on the experience of enemy aliens interned in the British Isles, is set to open. Alison Jones, a Trustee of the charity behind the project, tells the story so far.

This project has always been about two things: our village and Island community today and our village and Island community over 100 years ago.

With more than a million internee descendants with a special reason to visit the Island, and its relevance to those with the events surrounding World War One (WW1) history, we are looking forward to encouraging new visitors to enjoy what our Island has to offer.

The Knockaloe Exhibition and Patrick Community Centre project launched its website on the 17th November 2014, 100 years to the day after the first internees moved into Knockaloe Internment Camp in Patrick village.

Six years of incredibly hard work has gone into creating a visitors' centre, interpretation of the site and database collating the experience of 'enemy aliens' interned in the British Isles during WWI.

Its opening is timed to coincide with the centenary of the end of Knockaloe Internment Camp, whose final internees only departed in 1919.

The Centre has been funded entirely by our community and the many descendants and people of this Island who have supported us.

Special mention must go to the Gough Ritchie Trust, which has continually supported a small community with a vision to preserve this special building - both for public use and to remember the experiences of those imprisoned in the village over 100 years ago.

Our registered charity is grateful for the support of the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA), through which it has opened 'The Garden of Barbed Wire' on the site of the former camp.

It serves as a place of reflection for descendants of the men interned there 100 years earlier and is part of a walk, interpreting the area and the site of the camp, which starts at the Centre, complemented by the charity's app.

These are just the first stages of a phased plan.

The Centre for WW1 Internment provides a secure future for the former Patrick Village School, directly opposite the entrance to Knockaloe Moar Farm, adjacent to the graves of internees who never left the village.

The building itself was the location of many court cases and inquests relating to the camp just over a century ago.

Accommodating 23,000 internees at its height, Knockaloe was by far the world's largest WW1 internment camp.

More than 30,000 internees in all spent some or most of their internment at Knockaloe.

Some internees spent time at different camps, but the Knockaloe Database brings together all of these stories in one central location.

The charity has been overwhelmed by the generosity of the archives, collectors and descendants for sharing their information and allowing it to bring the information together in one place.

The Centre for WW1 Internment is delighted to be UNESCO Biosphere partner, welcoming and educating visitors to the Island from all over the world with an interest in the Island’s history.

In creating the centre, the project also retains its community focus.

Patrick Old School therefore provides a venue for community and cultural events today as well as a focal point for the descendants of those who lived in our village 100 years ago and all of those interested in this incredible piece of Island history.

The Centre for WW1 Internment will be open from 10am-5pm Wednesdays to Saturdays from 10th May to 29th September, housing a vast array of artefacts.

The exhibition, database and app tell the incredible story of a great wooden town created in one little village and the lives of those it impacted over 100 years ago.

For more information, visit, email Vicky Crellin, Events and Communications Coordinator - - or ring (Mondays and Wednesdays) 01624 648484.

Posted up on 27th April 2019


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