Norman Cross Depot

map-overlayNorman Cross was the site of the world’s first purpose-built prisoner-of-war camp or “depot” built during the Napoleonic Wars.

Design and construction of prison camp

The Royal Navy Transport Board was responsible for responsibility for the care of prisoners of war. When Sir Ralph Abercromby communicated in 1796 that he was transferring 4,000 prisoners from the West Indies, the Board began the search for a site for a new prison. The site was chosen because it was on the Great North Road only 76 miles (122 km) from London and was deemed far enough from the coast that escaped prisoners could not flee back to France. The site had a good water supply and close to sufficient local sources of food to sustain many thousands of prisoners and the guards. Work commenced in December 1796 with much of the timber building prefabricated in London and assembled on site. 500 carpenters and labourers worked on the site for 3 months. The cost of construction was £34,581 11s 3d.

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Time Team Norman Cross dig

Source: Channel 4 The field behind an A1 hotel may not sound like the most glamorous location, but Norman Cross hides an astonishing past. This was the location of the world's first custom built prisoner of war camp, home to 7000 inmates during the Napoleonic War. All...