Government Work Camps

John Field

I would be interested in hearing from anyone who remembers the Ministry of Labour's camps for unemployed men in the 1930s. One of these Instructional Centres was based at Fermyn Woods, close to Kettering. It was originally opened in 1928, to 'test' unemployed young men who were planning to emigrate to Canada, where they worked as harvesters. It was then formally opened as an Instructional Centre in 1929, after the economic crisis put paid to emigration. It housed up to 200 young men, mostly from the midlands, who worked on land clearance and similar heavy labour. It closed in 1937.

There were several similar camps in Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and other areas. They formed part of a government programme, which came to an end shortly before war was declared in 1939. I am currently completing a book about the camps, which will be published by Manchester University Press. It would be really interesting to hear what local people thought of them, and how they are remembered now that we are once again in a time of mass unemployment.

This page was added by John Field on 29/04/2013.

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MLA Department for Education and Skills DCMS Learn with museums Kettering Borough Council