My parents, Władysław and Władysława Hryciuk, came to Blackshaw Moor in the latter part of 1946 from southern Italy and were met by the cold and wet October weather. They were first housed at camp 4 but shortly moved into camp 1. The winter snows came early in January; as luck had it Mother went into labour with me. A foot of snow had fallen overnight so there was little chance of getting to a hospital.

Sgt. Maj. Polish Armoured Brigade Władyslaw Hryciuk with wife Władysława nee Romańska Italy 1945

I was born in the first aid barrack at Camp 1. For a little lad, growing up in the beautiful countryside on the edge of today's Peak Park, the setting was perfect. Lots of places to explore, let imagination run wild and pull legs and wings off "daddy longlegs" in the autumn. There were woods close by in which two pools were hidden. It was the ideal place for a spot of fishing or going on a picnic.
However, life for our parents was far from ideal. We were housed in family barracks i.e. one big one which had been divided into two. These were made of hardboard walls and asbestos roof on a concrete base and concrete skeleton. The living area consisted of a large family room containing a cooking range, where most of the daily activities took place; three bedrooms and a small room with cold running water and a scullery. Lino covered the floor so walking barefoot was not comfortable.
Toilet facilities were restricted to toilet blocks scattered around the camps. Our hut was on a hill above the other huts and in the summer when the water pressure was low I remember my mother having to carry  buckets of water  from taps that were lower down the camp.

My parents, sister Basia me and our next door neighbours 1947

My father, like all the Poles, wanted to work for his living but despite a willingness, many found it difficult to find work. Jobs were  restricted to mining and agriculture and, although there was a shortage of labour, Poles were greeted with prejudice and suspicion. The first work my Father was able to find was at a quarry in Buxton. His other choices were: the copper works at Froghall or the coalmines of Stoke on Trent. It was heavy work, but he put up with it for a couple of years and then found work at Adams Dairy in Leek where he worked until his retirement.
The camp was self contained, in that it had a chapel, the priest being Father Paweł Sargiewicz to see to our spiritual needs; a shop, run by Mr. Szpala and then by Mr. Dziurdzik; a club, run by Mr. Jurczenko to see to our other "spiritual" needs.  A large nissen hut became a meeting hall for shows, national day celebration  (akademie),  Nativity plays (Jasełka) and dances where people like my Parents could meet and for a while forget the bad times.
As the children were growing up a nursery school was established, run by Mrs. Kurjanowicz and then by Mrs. Szmuniewska. At the age of seven, the children were enrolled into St. Mary's Catholic School in Leek.
The late forties saw an exodus of soldiers to Poland and Argentina. As time went by, many of the residents left for other parts of Britain and the world. In the early and mid fifties many left for the USA and Canada. In between, others departed for different parts of the UK. By the time the camp closed in March 1964 there were only 50 families left on two camps. Everyone moved into the estate opposite the Three Horse Shoes Inn. Although it seems as if the community had broken up, the reverse had happened; we were brought much closer together and the community was strengthened as a result. Distant friendships were reinforced and a "second" community grew from them. In the late sixties and early seventies, as the young ones married and left the estate, the ones remaining were the original settlers some of whom are alive today.

Forgetting the bad times for a while Mr. and Mrs Korczyk  Mr. and Mrs, Hryciuk and  an unknown couple 1951

Thank you to Zbyszek Hryciuk for memories and photos.

More Photos of life in the camp

Growing up in the camp with the freedom of wide open spaces was great fun for the children but living out in the sticks did have some drawbacks. With the nearest shops some four miles away in Leek and with no buses on route it was necessary to have some form of transport. A bicycle was a must for many young and old alike.

Sharing a bike ; Zbyszek Hryciuk, Ryszard Krzywicki and Tadek Łazowski

Sylwester Jaworski and friend riding their bikes in the camp with a view of  the Roaches in the background. Sylwester lived in the camp from 1948 to 1958 when his family emigrated to the USA.

Szczepan Kapusta outside his hut.

Barbara Hryciuk and Tadeusz Łazowski


Zbyszek Hryciuk and ? Pawłowska

Basia Hryciuk and ?

Karol Szmuniewski


The White Eagles New generation  football team 1960/1

Kazik Sromek, Staszek Kapusta, Rysiek Widlewski, Rysiek  Bielicki, Janusz Dziurdzik, Rysiek  Krzywicki, John Williams Wojtek Milaszkiewicz Janek Barczewski

Blackshaw Moor youth club 1960+

Back row:- Tadeusz Łazowski, Elżbieta Markowska, Ryszard Milaszkiewicz, Barbara Szmuniewska and Wojciech Milaszkiewicz

Middle row:- Barbara Hryciuk, Danuta Markowska, Stasia Świeca, Halina Hryciuk

Sitting;- Danuta Hryciuk, Edward Kopeć, Zbigniew Hryciuk, and Teresa Krzywicka.


  Jan Budzyński with his wife Maria and sons   Jerzy and Waldek

Photo sent in by Waldek Budzynski

In the early 1960s the lower part of Camp 2 opposite the Three Horse Shoes Inn, was demolished to make room for a new council housing estate for the fifty odd Polish families still living in substandard barracks. In 1964 families from Camp 1 moved a few hundred meters down the road out of their leaky huts with no facilities on to the newly named Tittesworth estate with all the mod cons of the day.

From old to new:- Mrs. Hermit in her garden outside the hut which was home.

Mr. and Mrs. Hryciuk outside their new council house. The camp church, previously in a nissen hut, was moved to a  barrack close to the new estate and can be seen in the background.
The move to the new estate did cause one problem for the community, they had to leave their Nissan hut church on Camp1 which served them for the past 18 years. Luckily, the Ministry of Defence, which, in 1943 compulsorily purchased  the land from the Day family to build the  camps, still  owned what was left of Camp 2 and gave permission for one of the brick buildings, an  ablution block, which was situated  at the top of the new estate, to be converted into a new place of worship. Spurred on  by the camps priest Fr. Sargiewicz the Polish community of Tittesworth Estate raised funds for the materials needed to upgrade the old washhouse into a worthy place of worship, all the labour put into the conversion was given voluntarily.  

A view of the Tittesworth Estate against the back drop of the Roaches.

On October 4th 1964 the new  renovated  little church opened it's door to be blessed at a special Sunday service  by Monsignor B. Michalski from London. Sadly less then three years later Fr. Sargiewicz  died in a road accident, his replacement Fr. Serafin Potoczny O.F.M. and later Fr. Manswet Smalcerz and Fr. Franciszek Szpilka took over the pastoral duties.
The little church on the estate was in constant use serving  the Polish community of "Little Poland" for the next thirty years. In 1978 Mr. Day bought the buildings back from the Government and the Polish community then  paid a nominal annual rent of  £5 for the use of the building and every one was happy. As the years passed the generation that came to the camp as children or were born there, grew up and moved and the Tittesworth Polish community dwindled to a handful of mostly elderly worshipers using the little church.    

Polish youth outside the new camp church with the new houses in the background.

The lease of the little church expired in 1993 and the owner decided he needed the building for his own use.  In June 1993 the little church closed its doors for the last time with a Holy Mass attended by about 25 worshipers. Today the building still stands converted into a bungalow and the Tittesworth estate now houses mostly English families.

The unsightly huts on Camp 1 that spoilt the view of Staffordshire Moorelands were demolished and in their place now stand  a  caravan site serving visitors to the Peak National Park. If you look through the undergrowth around the perimeter of the caravan site you can still find remnants of the old camp.


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