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Springtown Camp: Plans for naval base tribute gets go ahead

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  • World War Two
image copyrightWillie Deery
image captionAn artist's impression of the proposed model Nissen hut

Plans for a monument remembering Springtown Camp in Londonderry - a naval base where people squatted for years - have been approved.

The model Nissen hut will stand at the junction of the Springtown and Northland roads.

Springtown Camp was an American navy base during the Second World War

But locals who could not get adequate housing moved in when the Americans left.

image copyrightWillie Deery
image captionSpringtown Camp with Pennyburn church in the far distance

Willie Deery, who lived at Springtown, is behind the planned tribute to the people who called the camp home and is "delighted " planners have approved the tribute plans.

He said the art installation would remember both the history of the camp and those who lived there.

"One of the gables of the Nissen hut will be dedicated to the forces that were there, the other to the community of Springtown camp."

It will remember the "mothers and fathers who raised families in shocking conditions," he said.

image copyrightWillie Deery
image captionKitty Lynch waves goodbye to the media in 1967

The site had 302 Nissen huts, a chapel, gym, laundry, canteen, barber's shop, theatre and even a jail.

But the huts had no water, electricity or heating.

image copyrightWillie Deery
image captionInside Sammy Holden's hut in December 1955

After a public outcry, the Unionist Majority Corporation, which had obtained power through gerrymandering, granted temporary rentals to the new residents and charged rent.

That agreement was to last six months and the families were to be allocated housing. That didn't happen.

Actress Jane Russell sparked an international furore in 1951 when she adopted a child from a mother living in poverty within the camp.

The camp closed in 1967 and some of the residents reunited in October 2017.

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