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History of the Sighthill POW Camp in the 1940s and 50s.


The camp was situated on the North side of Calder Road about 300 yards east of the Union Canal just where the word ESTATE appears on the map of the old Calder Road.
It was built around the beginning of the war as a heavy anti-aircraft battery defending RAF Turnhouse, now Edinburgh Airport.
By 1943 it had four 3.7 static guns sites with a Command Centre and Radar unit. Each was equipped with ammunition lockers and crew shelters. Two magazines were located nearby.
There were 31 Nissen Huts and 11 larger Wooden Huts used for accommodation and admin etc. and a Electricity Generation station.

Decommissioned by May 1945, the site was then used for housing mainly Italian Prisoners of War, often seen shopping locally wearing a round patch on the back of their jackets.
It then became temporary housing for homeless families,
with very basic living conditions.

The accommodation was uninsulated with thin walls.
The windows were frosted glass and wire mesh.
The rooms, either one or two, were small with thin partitions.
There was a cast-iron fire on a brick base with a steel chimney which was the only heating.
There was no oven or hot water and cooking was on a two-ring gas cooker on top of a cupboard.

There was a Communal Toilet block, and Laundry and a General store.
The Warden was called Mr Bowden.

It was demolished by the mid 1950s and the William Thynes and Burtons Biscuit Factories were built on the site.

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Stuart Laidlaw Added by Stuart Laidlaw

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    Archibald Ian HARRIS

    I lived in wooden hut n°15 at Sighthill Camp in 1951/52 with my parents and younger sister. I was 10 yrs old, and went to Wester Hailes School in 1951/52. I think the class teacher was Mr Rutherford. In the winter of 1951 the outside school toilets were frozen, and the pupils had to go to the toilets at home at playtime, but I couldn’t as the toilets at Sighthill Camp were also frozen!
    On 23 March 1952 there was a fire at the General Store at the camp, and my father was injured while trying to extinguish the blaze – he received a letter of thanks from the Edinburgh Police Chief Constable. (I still have this letter).
    I remember the camp Warden, Mr Bowden, known to us kids as Busty Bowden.

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