Friday, June 04, 2021


Brigg Heritage Centre is keen to mount a permanent exhibition remembering a major local feature of the Second World War.
It is now appealing for information and memorabilia relating to Pingley Camp, off Bigby High Road, where German and Italian prisoners-of-war were housed during and immediately after the hostilities.
Post-war the camp was a base for agricultural workers over many years, including students who came here from the Continent to undertake seasonal summer work while they improved their grasp of the English language.
The huts and the camp's landmark water tower near the A1084 were eventually demolished and the site cleared, but not before some of the surviving contents had been taken to the north-east to be used at a WW2-themed visitor attraction. They included a dentist's chair!
Some of the PoWs, following release, settled in Britain - a few remaining in this area.
There are also people still living locally whose families which at Pingley Camp post-war.
The Brigg Amateur Social Historians group was given special permission to tour the huts, and take photographs, prior to demolition, site clearance and redevelopment for housing.
Messages written in German were still evident inside some of the huts, and this visit allowed Brigg Blog to take some pictures for our archive.
Pingley Camp was the subject of a very well-attended monthly meeting of BASH, held in the White Horse pub (pre-Wetherspoon's).
One of the PoWs, Gerhard Moerbe, then living in Scawby, who married and stayed on in this country, shared his memories as part of a question and answer session.
Gerhard revealed there had been a drive to return all prisoners home before the 1948 Olympic Games were held in London.
He was due to be repatriated by March that year but volunteered to stay on to do farm work - important due to the UK's financial difficulties in what was known as The Austerity period.
In the early 1980s while working as a reporter with the Brigg-based Lincolnshire & South Humberside Times, we interviewed another former German PoW from Pingley Camp who returned to the town with his family and met up with people from Westrum Lane he had known in the 1940s.
He was keen to revisit the long-established fish & chip shop on Coney Court which he remembered with affection.
From our site statistics, Brigg Blog is aware of considerable interest aboard in Pingley Camp.
In decades following the war, many former Pingley PoWs revisited the camp where they had lived.
Brigg Heritage Centre - now open again following lockdown - is based in the Angel building off the Market Place.
Anyone who has Pingley Camp pictures or memorabilia they are willing to share for the planned exhibition is being asked to email or call 07394 960396.
If sufficient information is forthcoming, this will prove to be a very popular display - perhaps one which will attract visitors from Germany and Italy.