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Building Bellahouston Park Nissen hut camp

by CSV Actiondesk at BBC Oxford

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Archive List > United Kingdom > London

Contributed by 
CSV Actiondesk at BBC Oxford
People in story: 
Bill Harvey, Alan Jones
Location of story: 
Bellahouston Park Glasgow
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A5327723
Contributed on: 
25 August 2005

The company was sent to Bellahouston Park to erect fifty Nissen huts to provide the transit accommodation for reinforcements from the Empire. Alan Jones already had an affinity for the Park as much of the electrical cable for his first major project as a clerk of works on Bourlion Lines in Catterick had come from the world exhibition when the exhibition and its equipment was dismantled and re-cycled.

There was a trick to lining up the pre-drilled sheets of corrugated iron on the Nissen huts. Done correctly, the curved sheets came together easily. However, an overtightened nut or a bent sheet could turn the exercise into a wrestling match with tempers fraying. The whole structure was supported by 8 foot radius, curved steel ribs.

The huts had been designed to be simple to assemble. A crew of six could erect one in a few hours. With practice erection could become even faster although preparing the base and fitting electrical and plumbing took longer.

For Bill Harvey there was professional satisfaction in this work. “It went like clockwork. Separate gangs were allocated to perform various functions such as the footings and floors, assembly and erection. The bases were dug out and the floors concerted. Then the erection team moved in while the surveyors, excavators and concreters moved ahead putting in the next footings and floors. Finally there was the outfitting with doors and windows. We electricians moved in next. We could fit one hut a day. It was professionally most satisfying. The project went very smoothly as well as quickly”.

50 huts were erected and fitted in 42 days.

This story was submitted to the people’s War site by a volunteer from CSV Oxford on behalf of the late Bill Harvey. It is a transcript of his own diary and several interviews. He gave written permission for the material to be edited and published.

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