Luzborough Camp, Romsey

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Luzborough Camp Memories

by Mike Thomas

Hi Romsonians, Mike Thomas here in the USA. I would like to ask anyone that has pictures and/or information on LUZBOROUGH CAMP from the late 40's and early 50's to send them to me at Photo Uploads  I am preparing to write a memoir and would like to add pictures and to possibly jog my memories of those early days when I lived there.  Luzborough camp was located at the corner of Luzborough Lane and Botley Rd, just south of Baddesley. Thank you in advance for your help, Regards ... Mike

 

Quite a few families lived at Luzborough Camp.

Some of the names were as follows

 

Mr & Mrs Bell:- Vernon

Mr & Mrs Ronald Brett

John & Win Burnett:- Linda, Rosemary

Mr & Mrs Cleary:- Michael, Julie

Frank & Mary Drake

Mrs W. G. Gambling

Mrs Farrer

Mrs F Furby

Mrs F Garland

Ernest & Mrs Russell

Mr & Mrs Thomas:- David, Sid, Tony, Danny, Mike

Mr & Mrs Turner:- Don, Len, David

Ronald and Dot Sillence:- Philip

Mrs Vanderplank

Muriel & Bert Young:- Mick, Peter



How the site would look today

 

Aerial view in 1945

 

 

Dot and son Philip Sillence who lived at No. 12 Luzborough Camp

 

Dot Sillence Ration book and Identity Card

 

Philip Sillence Ration book with Luzborough Camp address

 

Romsey Advertiser reports on early days at Luzborough and Nursling Camps

Advance party out to stake first claims and all this week those who were fortunate enough to secure accommodation there have been settling in. The decision to “invade” was made on Sunday by Mrs F. Garland of 83, the Hundred, Romsey, who told an “Advertiser” reporter that she had been contemplating the move for more than a week. Inspired by the success of Squatters in other parts of the country, she had suggested the taking over of the camp to friends she knew to be also sadly in need of accommodation. “We were rather loath to take the plunge at first,” she said, “ a few agreed to come with me and then some backed out at the last moment, but on Saturday my mind was made up. On Sunday Mrs Farrer came and called for me even before I was up, and we came and looked at the place.”

Mrs Garland chose Hut No. 9, which had been used as an officers’ dormitory and Mrs Farrer selecting the hut next door, chalked “Hope Villa” on the door together with a notice to the effect that she had reserved it. Other squatters were not slow in following suit once the word had got around and by Tuesday the whole of the camp had been taken although by then only two families were in residence.

Like a palace.

Mrs Garland remarked that the hut she had taken seemed as large as a palace after the single room in which she and her husband had been living since he had been demobilised, and she thought that if it could be properly divided it could perhaps be shared with another couple who were without children. All the other squatters, she said, had children and could quite easily make use of a whole hut per family. Of course the huts would have to be partitioned to make rooms she said, and the small slow combustion stoves with which the dormitories were equipped would be.

My husband was a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy she said

Mrs Furby’s husband Petty officer John William Furby lost his life when H.M.S. L? was sunk at Salerno in March 1944

Mrs Burton who had taken over what was store explained she had been living in rooms, but had been given notice because the man of the house was returning from the forces. She was setting up a home for herself and two children.

From indescribable conditions.

Perhaps the most necessitous case of all was that of Mr & Mrs Sidney William John Thomas and their five children. After six years in the Royal Engineers, four of them abroad, Mr Thomas came home to share a house with another married couple who had five children. This house which is the property of the Town Council in Winchester Road is barely big enough for one such family and the cramped conditions in which four adults and ten children had been described by Mr Thomas’ mother to have been indescribable. “My son and his wife and family have had to sleep all in one room,” Mrs Thomas sen., told an “Advertiser” reporter. “It has not been fair to the kiddies. If one of them went down sick, they all caught it. My son has not been at all well since he got back from the Army either. Our lads did their bit. They deserve better homes than that. This fresh air will do the children a world of good.” Mrs Thomas explained that her son was a drayman at the brewery, and while he was at work she and her other son who was home on leave from Italy, were helping to move the furniture, the majority of which had been stored.

Another person thankfully getting furniture out of store was Mrs Farrer who had been living in two rooms in Middlebridge Street and whose furniture had been stored in two chicken houses.

Searched whole County for accommodation.

“This will be nothing new to me
Is engaged in the rebuilding of Botley Road Bridge, had been living with relatives at 112, Winchester Road, Romsey. “We have three children and we have been terribly handicapped for space,” she said. “It isn’t for the want of trying, I have gone all over the County of Hampshire looking for a place, and when I heard squatters were moving in here I came too. You can hardly blame us people for doing this. There are shiploads of Polish airmen’s wives coming over here and being given accommodation. I know our women are going over to Germany but that doesn’t solve the problem and I expect German women feel as we do. If they let us alone we can make these into comfortable homes.” Mrs Gambling who hails from Northumberland, said that her father and mother went to live in a former Army hut after the war of 1914-18, and her brother and his family were mow living in the same hut. She thought that there was no reason why the huts into which the squatters had now moved could not be made equally as comfortable and last equally as long, or at any rate until sufficient permanent homes could be built. Mrs Gambling explained that she, too, had furniture stored and the cost of storage and insurance had proved a big item. Her husband was demobilised from the R.A.F. Regiment two months ago, and he too was very glad to get a place of his own. The children were very excited. Mrs Gambling’s sister-in-law and husband, Mr & Mrs Ronald Brett, who had also been living with her parents at 112, Winchester Road, have taken Hut No. 3 at the camp. Mr Brett who is a plasterer, was abroad with the Royal Marines for four years and he was demobilised recently. They have two children, and they are now going on holiday happy in the knowledge that they have a home of their own to which to return.

THE ROMSEY SQUATTERS
WILL THEY BE ALLOWED TO STAY?

The eleven Romsey families who last week solved their housing problems by squatting at the Luzborough Civil Defence Camp have been discovering this week some of the joys of “a place of one’s own,” even though that place might not provide all of the amenities and comforts for which one can wish. Starting as it were from scratch, there has been not a little friendly rivalry in home making and “come and see how we have fixed up our place” has been a frequent invitation to fellow squatters and to visitors to the camp. Already there is evidence of some comfort in these one room homes and if the respective “householders” are able to carry out what they have planned in the way of dividing the huts into rooms there is no doubt that the winter will see them snugly and happily accommodated. Clothes were hung out to dry on half a dozen newly erected lines and children were playing a happy game on the grass and picking blackberries in the hedgerows when I visited the camp this week, writes an “Advertiser” reporter. A baker’s roundsman was making deliveries and a neighbouring smallholder with a small pony waggon was collecting pig swill. Smoke came from a number of chimneys and there were bright curtains at most of the windows.

At Hut No. 1, which she proposes to name “Stanton” I met Mrs W. G. Gambling jun., and young Master Gambling who, playing on the mat before the fire, showed that he had at least adapted himself to his new home. With furniture in and linoleum on the floor of those parts of the hut that had been set aside for bedroom and dining room there was indeed a transformation. The small slow combustion stove in that part of the hut which now serves as the kitchen had given place to a kitchen range, and although it seemed a bit unusual to walk right round a kitchen range it was to say the least extremely convenient and very warming.

Helping one another.

“Of course we have a lot to do to make these places really cosy,” said Mrs Gambling, “but already I feel much better since I have been up here, we are all very happy, and especially the menfolk. It does you good to see them setting out for work so carefully in the morning, and they all work hard to get things straight at night. My husband has put me up a clothes line and I have let my neighbours use it until they can get lines of their own. That’s what we have been doing all the time we’ve been here – helping one another, and we all get on very well together.”

Mrs Gambling explained that a Committee had been got together so that the camp could be run on a proper communal basis, and she herself had been elected its President. At the first meeting it was decided each household should pay into a central fund five shillings a week in lieu of rent. “If we are then asked to pay a rent for the place from the time we came in we shan’t find it do hard,” she said. “If it were not needed for rent there would be no doubt a water rate to meet, and there would obviously be other contingencies,”

The matter of sanitation was obviously something of a problem and the squatters were hoping some move would be made by the local authorities to provide facilities. At the moment there were now proper conveniences, only the buildings in which some kind of bucket lavatory had been in use. There were, however, no buckets and the squatters were managing the best they could, the menfolk setting up a rota system for the emptying of these and burying. Water was laid on only to the kitchen premises and this meant a lot of carrying, but this did not worry them unduly.

Planning for Christmas.

Tradesmen were now calling regularly, Mrs Gambling went on, and she had even had two visits from the postman. She thought it would not be long before they were all well and truly settled in and she already had visions of a really happy family Christmas. There was already talk of a large party for the children at least, “and I hope to get my mother to come and stay with us for Christmas,” she said, commenting that it was the first time since she had been married that she was able to invite guests to her home.

Next door Mrs Vanderplank’s 12 months old daughter had been playing contentedly in a playpen. “This fresh air is doing her a world of good,” remarked Mrs Vanderplank, “and she is so happy and contented.” The hut, too, was looking extremely cosy and there was evidence that hubby had been making himself handy in the construction of shelves and other fittings. Fresh flowers and bright cushions and curtains gave a homely touch to the sitting room section of the hut and robbed it of some of its spaciousness. Mrs Vanderplank, too, was impressed with the friendliness of her fellow squatters.

“I’m just going to lend someone my bath” called out Mrs F. Garland, who was obviously very glad that she made the first bold step in taking over the camp. “I am happier now than I have ever been and everybody else here is very happy too,” she said. Although her new home was not yet fully furnished Mrs Garland was entertaining her first visitor, her mother. She explained she had been elected Treasurer of the camp. Mrs Farrer who was with her as the first to move into the camp was Secretary, and Mr Doyle was Chairman.

Like Heaven.

In the end hut, Mrs Sidney Thomas was happy to find a home for her husband and five children. “This is like heaven after what we’ve had to put up with,” she said. Her hut had been curtained off into separate rooms and her children were having a grand time with somewhere new and safe to play.

“We shall almost need a special bus when all the children start school again next week,” was the comment of Mrs Ethel Furby, who has made a comfortable home for herself and six year old daughter in two adjoining rooms in the kitchen block. “It was fortunate that the camp was on a bus route and it would be nice for the children to go to school together,” she said. She, too, thought the surroundings were ideal for children and she and her little girl were already feeling the benefit of a place of their own.

Squatters at Nursling

Romsey folk sore pressed for housing accommodation now that menfolk have returned from the Services, have followed the lead given by people in other parts of the country and have taken to Squatting. This weekend saw a move to occupy two camps that have been vacant for many months, and for the most part those who have thus taken the law into their own hands are people who have had to put up with considerable privation. Once the first bold step was taken there was something akin to a gold rush. Accommodation was soon filled and many would-be Squatters disappointed.

The first camp to be taken was at the Nursling Heavy A.A. Gunsite which is on War Department land. Here the Squatters found the huts badly knocked about as the result of wanton destruction and they had to effect certain renovations to make them weatherproof. At the Civil Defence Camp at Luzborough whither the great trek began on Monday, however, all was found to be in excellent order, except there was no sanitation. This camp, that belongs to the Ministry of Works, has been the subject of considerable correspondence between the Ministry of health and the Romsey and Stockbridge Rural District Council who have asked that they might convert it into civilian accommodation. Repeated applications have been turned down and the Ministry of Works are stated to have earmarked the camp for other purposes.

The presence of Squatters might cause for another change of policy. It is understood that the respective Ministries have the matter in hand.

A thin whiff of smoke which was quickly dispersed by the almost wintry drizzle was the only thing outwardly unusual on Monday morning about the derelict cluster of huts that were once the camp of the Nursling Heavy A.A. Gun site, but it signified that there was someone in residence at quarters that had been untenanted for nearly a year. The Squatters were in, and this fact was at once confirmed by a notice chalked on one of the huts near the entrance which read “Keep Out, Taken Hard Pressed!”

There was little sign of life, apart from the smoke, however, until one reached almost the other end of the camp to be attracted to children’s voices coming from a hut which bore the label “Officers’ Mess” as well as the more recently added “Wun.” The children it transpired, were the son and two daughters of Mrs Anne Cameron-Knox, who were still a little thrilled by some of the features of their new home. Mrs Cameron-Knox herself and two friends were engaged in making habitable the best of a badly knocked about collection of buildings, and in an interview with an “Advertiser” reporter she explained why she had chosen this particular building and why she had become the first squatter in the Romsey district.

Ejected from her home at 30, Portersbridge Street, Romsey by a County Court Order, Mrs Cameron-Knox toured the area in search of somewhere to live and the inspired by reports of the activities of squatters in other districts she turned her attention to camp sites. She chose the Nursling one because she felt that because of the neglected state she would be doing the least harm and she chose the Officers’ Mess in particular because it had a brick fireplace.

Staking a claim.

Having decided on squatting she persuaded a van driver returning to Southampton with an empty vehicle to make detour and convey a few necessary pieces of furniture that she might stake her claim, and the weekend saw her and her three children and her dog and cat more or less settled in. There was a certain amount of coke lying about in the neighbourhood of the various kitchens and fireplaces of the camp to provide her with fuel, and there was water for washing, if not for drinking, in the large underground tank which had provided the supply for fire fighting. Drinking water Mrs Cameron-Knox explained was kingly provided by the people at the farm opposite. She went on to detail her plans for the conversion of the premises that she had taken over and said that she had already approached the authorities with regard to the provision of water and sanitary services.

Husband’s two accidents.

Mrs Cameron Knox’s husband Mr Robert Cameron-Knox, is at present in the Royal County Hospital, Winchester recovering from serious injuries sustained when he was involved with a tractor fourteen weeks ago. Demobilised from the Royal Engineers early this year (1946) after 5½ service, a long period of it overseas. Mr Cameron-Knox began work with Messrs. Domestic Distributors of Totton and had not been there long when he met with the accident that nearly cost him his life. In addition to the compound fracture of the right leg and severe burns he suffered injury to his spine, and his remarkable, if slow recovery is stated to be due in no small measure to his will power. This was the secong serious accident he had suffered in a year. He had been back in Germany three weeks after V.E. Day when he sustained a compound fracture of the left ankle and other injuries and was in hospital for a considerable period.

Five homes in three weeks in Blitz.

But these were not the only misfortunes Mr & Mrs Cameron-Knox have suffered in recent years. Early in the war they were blitzed out of two homes in Southampton and sought refuge in the Romsey district. Mr Cameron-Knox was then posted to Plymouth and as things were fairly quiet ther he persuaded his wife and children to join him there. Soon afterwards Plymouth was subjected to repeated raids and Mr & Mrs Cameron-Knox had five homes in three weeks. Returning to Southampton Mrs Cameron-Knox had to spend some time in hospital and late in 1942 she came with her children to Romsey for a second time. And now she has found it necessary to become a squatter and is fired with a determination to make a comfortable home for her children and for her husband when at last he is able to leave hospital. Admitting that it was a bit eerie living in the camp alone, Mrs Cameron-Knox looks forward to the arrival of other squatters who have already staked their claims and envisages the organisation of communal cooking in the camp kitchens, and a communal nursery for the children in what was once the camp dining hall. A hut labelled “A.T.S. Sergeants” has already been earmarked by the Allen family who have fitted the door with a Yale lock and nailed up the name “Lorina” taken presumably from their former home. Mr & Mrs Allen and their four year old daughter hail from Kingston and are coming to the camp from a furnished flat. Mr Allen has just been demobilised and is employed in the locality. Another hut formerly occupied by A.T.S. Sergeants has also been earmarked, as has a hut near the entrance. The latter will be taken by a man who has an attic room in Southampton.

Wanton destruction.

As was stated at the outset, this camp is little more than a collection of derelict huts, although before it was vacated in September of last year it was well laid out: well appointed and rather attractive quarters, Wanton destruction by irresponsible people has reduced it to its present dishevelled state. There is hardly a whole pane of glass left, hardly a door which will shut. There are no electric fittings whatever and precious little wiring apart from the overhead wires. The majority of the water pipes have been wrenched away from the walls, all the taps, valves and other fittings have been taken and lavatory pans have been smashed. It is presumed this damage has been done since the place was vacated, but the presence of some hundreds of rusty razor blades, not to mention toothpaste tubes and packets, in what were once the washrooms is evidence that the camp was not left in the best of condition. It is understood that no action is planned by the Garrison Engineers’ Department in whose province the camp is situated, while the attitude of the Local Authority is expected to be determined by the recent instructions with regard to Squatters issued by the Ministry of Health. The Ministry has been informed of squatters on this site.

 

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