Raikeswood Camp and Skipton UDC

Skipton UDC, or Skipton Urban District Council to give it its full title, was one of the forerunners of today’s Craven District Council. The minutes of the council and committee meetings provide some interesting insights into a small town trying to cope with the monstrosity that was the First World War.

2 August 1917                 From the Minutes of the Gasworks Committee

Item 11               Tar: An application from the Military Authorities for 1500 gallons of tar to be supplied to Raikeswood Camp for the purpose of tarring roofs.

Resolved: That the tar be supplied at 35/- per ton subject to the Manager satisfying himself as to the carriage [and] any sanctions from the Ministry of Munitions.

(Note: at this time town gas was prepared by the dry distillation of coal. Tar was a by-product of the process.)

20 November 1917         From the Minutes of the Full Council

Item 7                 Raikeswood Camp: On the motion of Councillor F(?)rey, seconded by Councillor Hartley it was resolved that whilst the Council regret the Camp at Skipton has been selected as an Internment Camp for German Prisoners of War, under the difficult circumstances existing objection will not be offered provided the prisoners of war are securely fenced in, and kept within the bounds of their camp.

13 March 1918                From the Minutes of the Baths and Washhouses Committee

Item 2                 Soldiers: An application from the O.C. Detachment of the Royal Defence Corps at Raikeswood Camp for the facilities for baths on 3 afternoons per week for about 40 men each day, was reported.

Resolved: That the matter be left in the hands of the Chairman and Surveyor to make the best arrangements possible.

(Note: one of roles of the Royal Defence Corps was to guard prisoner-of-war camps. The R.D.C. was made of men who were either too old or too infirm for front-line military service abroad.)

13 March 1918                From the Minutes of the Baths and Washhouses Committee

The Chairman reported that arrangements had been made for the men from Raikeswood Camp attending the baths in the early morning  ̶  the charge to be 2d. per man, the men to find their own towels and soap; also that a labour unit from the Camp may attend on Wednesday evenings on the same terms.

Resolved: Approve and confirm.

24 September 1918        From the minutes of the Streets and Buildings and Health Committee

Item 10               Raikeswood Camp  ̶  The Inspector reported that he had visited the Camp by permission of the Camp Authorities, and inspected the scavenging arrangements there, which were satisfactory.

(Note: scavenging means retrieving anything useful from the discarded waste.)

16 April 1919                   From the Minutes of the Full Council

The Clerk reported a letter from the War Office offering to the Council captured German trophies for care and safe custody.

Resolved: That the trophies be accepted  ̶  it being suggested that they be placed in the room over the Public Library.

19 August 1919               From the Minutes of the Full Council

Councillor Wilson suggested that the Camp Authorities should be approached with a view to the Council obtaining the huts at the Camp for the purposes of a temporary means of dealing with the housing question, and the matter was referred to the Housing (new) and Town Planning Committee for consideration.

26 August 1919               From the minutes of the Streets and Buildings and Health Committee

Item 6                 Raikeswood Camp  ̶  The Inspector reported on the question of the removal of refuse from Raikeswood Camp and that he had offered to remove it at cost price plus 5%.

Resolved: Approve.

9 September 1919          From the minutes of the Streets and Buildings and Health Committee

Item 16               Raikeswood Camp  ̶  The Inspector reported a request from the Camp Authorities to find a place for Refuse Tins.

Resolved: That the Inspector inform the Authorities that the Council cannot deal with the tins unless they are first crushed.

1 November 1919           Joint meeting: Streets and Buildings and Health and Housing (new) and Town Planning Committees

Item 1                 Huts at Raikeswood Camp: The Committee met in Salisbury Street and by permission of the Camp Authorities inspected the huts there.

The Skipton UDC records are kept in the North Yorkshire Archives at Northallerton. Unfortunately a search for references to prisoners of war in the surviving records of the quarry company, Skipton Rock proved fruitless. The minutes of the Skipton Board of Guardians for the actual war years are also stored in the County Archives. Sadly the records for the following year had not been preserved. And that brings us onto another topic which is Raikeswood Camp and the influenza epidemic of 1919…

Finally, the collection included a photograph of informal groups of exceedingly well-turned out German officers chatting with each other in the snow at the prisoner-of-war camp at Colsterdale. The first batches of German officers to arrive at Skipton camp had previously been interned at Colsterdale (pages 28 to 30 of Kriegsgefangen in Skipton).

My thanks are due to the extremely knowledgeable and patient staff at the North Yorkshire Archives.

Alan Roberts