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Warsaw Hamlet.

When the RAF left Elsham Wolds in 1947 the site was used for several years as temporary accommodation for displaced persons from Europe. These were mostly Polish ex servicemen and their families. Many found work at the at the Iron Ore mines and steelworks at Scunthorpe. Work at the Scunthorpe steelworks was booming - 3 plants employed 18,000 alone so work was plentiful and there was a labour shortage.

Some families were forced to live in air raid shelters before graduating to a Nissen Hut. This squatting was done normally on a Friday so that a 48 hour settling in period passed before Monday morning when they had to sign in at Brigg Police station, a required procedure for Poles at that time.Elsham Wolds Warsaw Hamlet 1

There was a healthy black market at Warsaw Hamlet with families keeping chickens and geese. Pillows out of the feathers and traded these for paraffin for the cookers. Eggs were swapped for butter in Barnetby village and some of the men kept pigs. The bacon was cured in the shelters and traded for produce with the locals.

Heating was free as there were plentiful trees near the site and also lots of the derelict buildings were wood.  Whilst it sounded poor the family fared better then many of the indigenous town's people. This was still a time of severe rationing and many people had to rely on the most basic weekly foodstuffs, fuel and household commodities. At harvest time there was plentiful farm work for those on the camp.

 A doctor used to visit regularly and there were regular Catholic services. Also baptisms and several weddings. A travelling cinema visited the site and there were occasional dances and celebrations. Easter Jajko, Oplatek at Christmas. The 3rd of May was Constitution Day, 11th November Polish Independence/Armistice Day and St Silvester’s Day at New Year.

The local Elwes family of Elsham Hall had positive input on the community. Captain Elwes had a Polish grand mother. He employed several Poles and allowed the Polish Scunthorpe Community to use his land for fetes, picnics and Polish Boy Scout camps.

For the children Elsham Wolds was a marvellous playground full of interesting places and things to explore. In the early 1950s responsibility for the site was placed with the local Council and conditions improved.

Although life must have been difficult up there in those difficult post-war years and particularly in the cold weather Warsaw Hamlet is remembered with fondness by at least some of the former residents

Warsaw Hamlet finally closed in 1952 and the residents moved on to better things. Some settled in the area and some moved away. This was the final chapter in the Elsham Wolds history and the site reverted to agricultural and commercial use. Item written by David Fell with input from a gentleman who remembers living at Warsaw Hamlet Post War.

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