OSW-NP-P-30-36 – St Barbara’s Church, Park Hall Camp

A customer sent this inforamtion:

Your photo “OSW-NP-P-30-36 – Park Hall Camp” shows the Garrison Church, St Barbara’s, (C of E). St Barbara is the patron saint of artillerymen and quarrymen – anyone who uses explosives, basically, having called down a lightning strike on her father (!) who was not a Christian. For a while I was a choirboy there. It looks scruffy from the outside, but it was furnished inside in beautiful limed oak.

My father was an officer in the camp in around 1958-9 before being posted to Manorbier in Pembrokeshire. I went first to Woodside School and later after passing the 11 plus to Oswestry Boys High School where I spent less than a term before also moving to Pembrokeshire. We lived in No 2, Park Hall Mews, just a short walk from the swimming pool (OSW-NP-P-30-35 – Park Hall Camp Swimming Pool) which allegedly was “Olympic size”, and I swam there regularly. In the evenings it was reserved alternately for Officers’ families and the families of ‘Sergeants and other ranks’. Occasionally while I was at Woodside we had school swimming sessions in the town baths, where the water was cloudy from the chemicals – it was clear in the camp baths. The town swimming pool had a 1d (old penny) ‘Brylcreme’ dispenser!

There were 2 Mews flats over stables, but I see these stables have been converted into apartments.

I used both a bus service and the branch line train from Tinkers Green Halt to go to school.

The soldiers ran a Cub and Scout group out of the huts. If my memory serves me, it was the 6th Oswestry (Park Hall) scout group.

Park Crescent was Officer’s Quarters. On Google maps I see that the gardens all meet in the middle, but back then there was an open space with swings etc, and there was always a bonfire there on Guy Fawkes Night.

The Park Hall I remembered was brick-built. I see that it isn’t there any more. It was empty when I was a boy, and the last descendant of the family, an elderly lady, lived in what I guess was the servants’ quarters! We used to sneak into the ‘rock garden’ or ‘sunken garden’ to play: part of it had a pet cemetery which gave us kids the shudders, which is why we trespassed!

I see that you have a photo with a 25 pdr gun-howitzer. They had them when I was there, but there was also a Corporal missile battery. Memory plays tricks, but I seem to remember it was 42 Regiment RA. One day, the Kings Troop performed in the open area between the stadium (now the football club pitch, although it was athletics then) and the swimming baths.

Just north of the stadium was a weird feature, a sort of embanked island surrounded by a moat. I see it still on Google maps. I never did discover what it was.

Picture from Whittington Village folder