FULLY BOOKED Knockaloe Conference

Knockaloe, a local, national, global perspective.

A conference to launch the “Centre for WWI Internment”

28th – 30th March 2019

We are delighted to announce that the long-awaited Centre for World War I Internment (Knockaloe Visitor Centre) and Internee Database, collating and detailing information on enemy aliens interned in the British Isles, will be opening at Knockaloe in Patrick Village on the Isle of Man in Spring 2019. 

The project will be launched with a conference on the 28th – 30th March 2019, at the Knockaloe Visitor Centre situated at Patrick Old School, Knockaloe Farm in Patrick Village on the Isle of Man. We are delighted to have Professor Panikos Panayi of De Montfort University as our academic adviser, helping us to introduce our distinguished speakers who will be discussing the experience of civilian internment in WWI.

We have chosen to hold the conference at the Centre itself, however space is limited and so we wanted to ensure that we offered tickets to those descendants who have previously contacted us and kindly shared their family’s story before publicising the tickets on social media and locally. The event is subsidised by a kind donation and tickets are priced to contribute to costs rather than to cover them.

Our Community Charity project first launched with the website www.knockaloe.im on 17 November 2014, 100 years to the day that the first internee moved into Knockaloe. Our aim being to create a Visitor’s Centre and interpretation of Knockaloe Internment Camp, and a Database bringing together the stories of the men who lived in our small village 100 years ago.

Since then a phenomenal amount of work has been done by the community, volunteers and grant/donation funded staff and we are delighted to confirm that the “Centre for WW1 Internment” at Knockaloe will be launching in March 2019 with a conference, its timing to coincide with the centenary of the end of “Knockaloe Internment Camp” whose final internees only departed in 1919.

The conference and launch of the Visitor Centre will be the culmination of 4 years work which has “at times” been an uphill battle. In Autumn 2017 we received confirmation from the Isle of Man Government that the site would be preserved and not developed, and that the Charity would be allowed to create a number of interpreted walks around the site utilising an “app”, as well as a traditional guidebook. Building work on the old village school commenced and we are well on the way to having a bright and informative Visitor Centre for descendants to visit for many years to come. The old school is the perfect venue, being directly opposite the camp, adjacent to the graves of the internees who never left our village, and the location of so many court cases and inquests relating to the Camp a century ago.

Although the development of the Visitor Centre and walk went on hold whilst we ensured their future, work continued apace on the Internee Database, we focussed our work on bringing together what was a huge amount of fragmented information about the civilians interned in the British Isles from sources all over the world. We were thrilled to work with Professor Panikos Panayi and have received the support of major UK universities via the “Centre for Hidden Histories: Community, Commemoration and the First World War” Project at the University of Nottingham, developing our initial framework for the database and getting the tens of thousands of internees listed. Fragmented information from all over the world has been collated to allow us to digitise internees’ experience of internment, as well as their movements between camps during their internment.

This is far from a story just of Knockaloe, or the Isle of Man. As time progressed and descendants shared their stories, we started to realise that internees moved around and spent time in many camps, and that one family’s story may involve one brother in Alexandra Palace and another on Knockaloe. We realised that, whilst Knockaloe held up to 24,000 internees at its peak, many thousands more spent time there as they moved from other camps. We realised that we needed to be methodical and thorough and painstakingly incorporate all of the civilian internees interned in the British Isles to provide a central point of reference for descendants.

This collation process will always be ongoing, but with so many internees listed, our work now focusses on adding the records from archives and private collections from all over the world to piece together an individual internee’s movements and experiences. We are so grateful to the archives and collectors who have given us specific permission to collate this information. Because we are a Registered Charity without paid staff, nor do we wish to monetise our work, everyone has been phenomenally generous in sharing their information and it is by bringing it into one place that we can really start to link stories and understand the experiences of the individual internees. In turn our work will raise awareness of these fabulous records and point descendants in their direction.

The aim of the conference in March is not only to launch the Visitor Centre and Database but bring together, academics, historians, descendants and the community in one place to commemorate the civilians interned in the British Isles, the vast majority of which spent some of WW1 in Knockaloe Internment Camp in our village of Patrick on the Isle of Man and to place the story of the internees within the context of what was happening beyond the island’s shores.

The cost to attend the conference is £100 per person, this includes attending the 2.5 day conference and a buffet lunch plus tea/coffee on the first two days. Your place can be booked by E-mailing events@knockaloe.im. Places are extremely limited and will be reserved on a first come first served basis but priority will be given to descendants and those sponsoring a bed at Knockaloe, we would be grateful if upon booking you could confirm if you are a sponsor or descendant. For those who are kindly sponsoring one or more internee beds on an annual basis the 10% discount of course applies. For further information on bed sponsorship please visit http://www.knockaloe.im/page_346182.html.

The conference will commence first thing on Thursday 28th March and will finish early afternoon on Saturday 30th March. For those travelling from overseas we have attached a number of recommended hotels and guest houses but you may also find the Visit Isle of Man website useful for accommodation https://www.visitisleofman.com/where-to-stay. For those unfamiliar with the Island the closest city to Knockaloe is Peel and the capital of the Island is Douglas, which is approximately 25 minutes by car to Peel.

Thursday and Friday will involve contributions from our specialist speakers, then Saturday morning will formally open the Visitors Centre, allowing attendees to view the exhibition and tour the Knockaloe site as interpreted by the Charity via its new “app”.

Our speakers are experts upon various aspects of WW1 internment including German immigration before WW1, what life was like for “alien” families, life as an internee within the camps, the process of internment, and/or other camps which fed into Knockaloe.

Professor Panikos Panayi, a specialist in WW1 internment and German immigration, and Alison Jones, Trustee and Senior Researcher at the Knockaloe Charity, are delighted to be joined at the event by the following speakers:


Peter Towey, Anglo German Family History Society

Dr Jennifer Kewley Draskau, Hon. Research Fellow, University of Liverpool

Dr Maggie Butt, Middlesex University

Dr Claudia Sternberg, University of Leeds

Zoe Denness, University of Kent Gateways to the First World War

Dave Stowe, Historian, Lofthouse Park

Dr Tim Grady, University of Chester

Colin R Chapman, Social & Family Historian, c/o Lochin Publishing

Andrew Jepson, Archaeology Scotland

Dr Stefan Manz, Aston University

Anne Buckley, Lecturer in German Translation Studies, University of Leeds

Rob Freeman, Craven and the First World War Project Officer, Craven Museum

Professor Matthew Stibbe, Sheffield Hallam University

Tom Krasny, Artist, Glasgow School of Art (Graduate: Master of Fine Art Programme)

Corrina Meiß, Historian, Woeteragentur

            Yvonne Cresswell, Curator, Social History, Manx National Heritage

Ivor Ramsden, Manx Aviation & Military Museum

Kerry Kemp, Isle of Man Postal History Society