Featherstone Park Prisoner of War Camp
Building Haltwhistle Northumberland

Featherstone Park Prisoner of War Camp

Building In Haltwhistle, Northumberland

A former POW camp located behind Featherstone Castle for Italian and German prisoners of war.

Nestled between Haltwhistle (which claims to be the centre of Britain) and the stunning Lambley Viaduct is the former Featherstone Park Prisoner of War Camp or 'Camp 18' as it was known. The remains of the camp are situated behind Featherstone Castle and feature on the Daft as a Brush Tyne Trail.

The former entrance to Camp 18 is marked by a plaque, the River South Tyne flows past.

The former POW Camp sits beside the river South Tyne and is unique in that save for the areas which have collapsed into the river its layout has remained unchanged since it was built. The River Tyne Trail footpath leads right through the middle of the Camp where different structures and remains can still be seen. The residents now though are a mixture of cows and sheep who use the buildings for shelter.

It was originally opened in 1944 for American soldiers in advance of the Normandy invasions. It was later used for Italian and German prisoners of war until it closed in the summer of 1948 with its contents sold in 1950. The camp held many senior German officers and Nazi SS officers who were required to undergo a course of 'denazification' prior to release. It was considered to be successful.

Some of the remaining buildings are quite large in size and striking in style.

Camp 18 is a large site stretching across a mile of Featherstone Park. Indeed, it was one of the largest camps in Britain, at one time it housed 4,000 German officers and 600 orderlies. On the approach from Featherstone Castle a memorial stone marks the sites former entrance. The plaque reads:

“Here was the entrance to POW Camp 18 where thousands of German officers were held in the years 1945-48. The interpreter since January 1946 was Captain Herbert Sulzbach O.B.E. who dedicated himself to make this camp a seedbed of British German reconciliation. Our two nations ow him a heartfelt thanks. The friends and members of the Featherstone Park Association of Former Inmates of Camp 18, 1982”.

Captain Sulzbach stated that he considered his time at Featherstone Park to be "the most satisfying years of [his] life".

Once you approach the camp you can see various brick buildings including a cell block. There are also lots of foundations and less obvious ruins which serve as a reminder of the area's history. The camp itself consisted of a guard's compound, two prisoners' compounds and a sports field.

Life at Camp 18 was generally good. Prisoners would work in the local community (such as helping at nearby farms) and received lectures from academics from Newcastle, Durham & Oxford. The camp had a bakery, a theatre, a library, chapel, classroom and not one but three orchestras! Prisoners were even allowed to attend the local village dance on a Saturday night.

Old concrete posts mark obvious foundations.

The camp also had its own newspaper Die Zeit am Tyne (The Time on the Tyne) which ran between June 1946 and March 1948. It's historically an important resource as it was uncensored and as a result gives an insight into the life of German POWs in Britain.

The Northumberland Archives detail that there was only one escape attempt from Camp 18 where 8 prisoners attempted escape, unfortunately one died whilst attempting to cross the river South Tyne which was in flood at the time. The remaining seven followed the South Tyne Railway to Alston (travelling 12 miles in one day) but the group were ultimately all recaptured. Joseph Kirchdorfer, the Luftwaffe pilot was one of the escapees, the Northumberland Archives record that he was particularly of interest as “he carried with him a letter from the world's first female test pilot, Hanna Reitsch.”

Featherstone Castle, not the expected entrance to a former POW camp!

Rich in history and a unique survivor from WWII, this former Prisoner of War Camp is well worth a visit. Whilst in the area you can also see Featherstone Castle (now a conference centre and hostel style accommodation) by the former entrance to the camp and the nearby Lambley Viaduct which is on the South Tyne Trail and can be followed all the way from Camp 18.

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How To Find Featherstone Park Prisoner of War Camp

Where Is Featherstone Park Prisoner of War Camp?

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54.94126, -2.513537

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Where To Park For Featherstone Park Prisoner of War Camp?

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54.944548, 54.944548

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Limited parking on the road on the approach to Featherstone Castle or by Featherstone Bridge (please park considerately) or for the more adventurous plentiful parking either in Haltwhistle or the Lambley Viaduct South Tyne Trail car park where you can follow the waymarked South Tyne Trail!

Contributed by Sean Linley

A keen walker and wildlife enthusiast and dog dad originally from Leeds but a Newcastle resident for 10 years with a passion for history and heritage. Always curious about my local area and always on the lookout for something new. You’ll often find me studying the OS map for new places to explore!

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Sean Linley

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