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Photo-a-day 253: Hamsterley Forest

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This is a bit of Hamsterley Forest, County Durham’s largest forest.

It was planted in the 1930s, and housed one of Britain’s work camps – formally an “Instructional Centre” – where unemployed men were forced to do heavy manual labour. At the time, unemployed men were seen as “soft and demoralised”, and were forced to attend these camps to be “hardened and reconditioned” for twelve weeks under threat of their dole payments being stopped. Conditions were grim: the men were unpaid, lived in wooden huts, and did heavy manual labour for twelve hours a day. They were subject to military-style discipline under the guidance of retired police officers and sargeants major. The camps were so reviled that some newspapers of the day called them concentration camps.

In all, 200,000 men were sent to these camps – only 10% secured employment afterwards. It is, perhaps, surprising from our point of view that these camps were introduced by Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour Government.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, some of the camps – including Hamsterley Forest – became prisoner of war camps.

Perhaps surprisingly, part of the Hamsterley Camp still exists – though these days, it’s been converted into a Visitors’ Centre for the forest. The forest offers a range of activities for visitors these days, including mountain biking, the RAC rally, and fell running. I wonder, though, how many visitors are aware of the forest’s dark past?

This 1,802nd post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , .

Photo-a-day 220: Scenic bit of the Tyne

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Today’s photo is another from the Tyne Riverside Country Park, which I’ve previously featured here and here. I guess featuring the same place thrice starts to push the boundaries of acceptable repetition, but it is a very pretty place…! If you’re ever in the area and fancy visiting, all the details you need are here – though if you’re able to go a bit further afield, Kielder Water and the surrounding forest are even nicer: that area’s nothing short of stunning.

This 1,755th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , .

Photo-a-day 190: Ouseburn and a foxglove

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Today’s photo shows another bit of the Ouseburn, on its meandering path from somewhere near Newcastle Airport to the Tyne.

I’ve featured various bits of the Ouseburn in the last 190 days, and Wendy reckons it’s now become boring and repetitive. She suggested I photograph and feature this foxglove:

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So two for the price of one today: the Ouseburn and a foxglove!

This 1,715th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , .




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