The School Rooms

Patrick Old Schoolrooms, a former parochial school built in 1877, is owned by the Department of Education subject to a reservation to the vicar and wardens of Patrick Church. The School has not operated as a local primary school since the mid 1980s. However it is still used for a variety of community activities.

Patrick Old Schoolrooms is situated opposite the entrance to Knockaloe Moar Farm, the location of the internment camp for “enemy aliens” of the British Government under its Aliens Restrictions Act of 1914, passed the day after the World War I broke out. General internment of all Germans of military age began in May 1915 following the sinking of the “Lusitania”. Knockaloe Camp ultimately held “nearly 24,000 prisoners in 23 compounds inside barbed wire, with 4,000 old soldiers acting as armed National Guard, and 250 civilians attending to their wants and comforts…..The camp at Knockaloe was three miles in circumference; 695 miles of barbed wire surrounded the compounds” Samuel Norris “Manx Memories and Movements

Patrick Schoolrooms is adjacent to the Camp location which is denoted only by a small sign

Panikos Panayi, Professor of European History at De Montfort University, Leicester,  writes that “….. quite astonishingly the story of the First World War prisoners of Britain has only just been written, almost a century after the conflict. Blink when walking past Knockaloe Farm and you will miss one of the only physical signs of this history. It seems high time that a more permanent memorial to these victims of the First World War now emerged in Britain.” Forgotten Prisoners of the Great War Published in “History Today” Volume: 62 Issue: 11 2012

The day to day running of the building is managed separately from the church by a committee from the local community (“the Committee”), and the costs of the building are met by income generated by periodic lettings. The Isle of Man Department of Education makes no contribution towards maintenance or running costs, and has been supportive of the continued use of the building for public, parochial & educational purposes over the twenty five years that have elapsed since the school ceased to operate as an educational establishment.

Generating sufficient income to fund the routine maintenance & periodic repairs required at the Schoolrooms has always been a challenge, and the Schoolrooms face local competition from more recently improved and more modern facilities (such as Dalby, Glen Maye, St Johns and Peel) for the rental income which is the only source of revenue for the buildings upkeep. Sadly the income from lettings only just cover the on-going maintenance, and will never generate enough funds to finance the refurbishment which is now becoming critically overdue.

The Schoolroom building comprises three original rooms: a large central Schoolroom with two rooms off it at each side. It is stone built in an exposed position and the large number of broken and slipped slates and hotchpotch of old guttering are causing large areas of damp, causing the lime plaster to crumble from the walls. The entire Schoolrooms area is exposed to the extremely high eaves with no insulation under the roof. Similarly the floor is wooden with no insulation under it which is extremely drafty. We assume the rodents must get in through holes in the walls under the floor level. This original building is semi-detached to the old Schoolmaster’s House which is now in private ownership. In the past an extension to the old Schoolrooms has been built to accommodate the current kitchen & toilet facilities. The outer walls of the extension were unfortunately built directly on top of the old stone and rubble three foot high stone school yard boundary walls, hence dampness is a problem.  The extension is dark with out-dated facilities. The kitchen is not only rudimentary, but it is arguable whether it complies with modern hygiene requirements with its open sewers. Sadly its current condition, compared to competing facilities in the area, make it an unappealing venue.

During a recent community event in the Schoolrooms in October, supported by over 80 local residents, there was literally water running down the inside of the newly ‘community painted’ walls which also had areas of stone exposed from where the plaster on the walls had fallen off. There was also evidence of rats within the kitchen together with their distinctive smell. Significant refurbishment is essential if the building is going to continue to survive and be financially viable into the future.