Pingley PoW Camp – Lincolnshire

During WWII, a prisoner of war camp was built on the outskirts of Brigg, in Lincolnshire. It was used to house around 750 Italian and Germany prisoners. There were 35 huts on site – 23 for prisoners and the remainder for guards.

During the 1950s, the role of the site was drastically changed – it was used as a holiday camp. Well, a farming-holiday camp for the local farm. People would book in for a week, have a bit of a holiday and work on the farm. It closed during the 1980s. Some parts are still used by the farm to store machinery, but it is in a rather bad state.

Water Tower

The first thing you see when entering the camp is the huge water tower. It was also used to store items like towels and boots.

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Buildings

The huts were of a standard pre-fab design and built by the prisoners in 1942/1943.

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Interiors

Inside them was unusual. Some had been totally stripped. Some in original condition. And some covered with gaudy wallpaper from the 1970s. It was unusual to see the contrasting interiors!

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A few baths, beds, toilets, chairs and other fittings remained.

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Bits

There were lots of old bits lying around. Books from 1943. Suitcases. Old shoes. Egg records. Allsorts. It was like a minature museum.

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Art

Several rooms were covered in prisoners’ art – ranging from Goofy to Nazi chickens, via raunchy ladies.

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45 Responses to Pingley PoW Camp – Lincolnshire

  1. CopySix says:

    Great location – quite pleased to see some effects still at Pingley.

  2. Tania Hodgson says:

    Fabulous art – has anyone contacted the local museums to let them know it’s there, maybe it could be preserved?

  3. Björn Björnsson says:

    A superb site, a must for evry military historian.

  4. joao franco says:

    I happen to have spend around 6 months there, in 1965, as a foreign student on holiday, staying at the so called then Pigley Farm Hostel, do farm work to pay for my board and lodge and learn the language, visit the country and just be among other teenagers from around the world.
    Those 6 months have helped me tremedously in the slow process of learning a foreign language and certainly have contributed a lot to the professional career I have followed.
    I have great memories of this camp, and I have visited it again in 1998 and again in 2004.
    Is there anyone out there that has also spend a vacation there in that year?
    By the way I am from Portugal and my name is Joao Franco

  5. Harry Thorpe says:

    Just out of curiosity I typed ‘Pingley’ into google tonight and found all these references to and photos of pingley farm pow camp. Amazing. My name is Harry Thorpe and the camp was built on my fathers farm in 1943. In 1981 my brother and myself took on the farm and in 1986 I farmed the farm and the camp with my wife.
    In 2006 my wife and I sold the bulk of the farm and moved to the Lincolnshire wolds. I still own the camp and some land each side of it. A developer was granted planning permission in June 07 and will v shortly take ownership of the camp’s core site and plans to redevelop it.
    I am sorry that some will find this upsetting but the camp has become v derelict and is dangerously dilapidated.
    I do have though many photos of the camp and some of its people taken by myself since about 1979 and some others from the mid 50’s on, that I found after my father Jim Thorpe died in 2004 the day before his 90th birthday.
    My plan one day when work and time allows is to try and put a photo history sequence of the camp/farm together in a photo book but in the meantime if anyone cares to contact me by email I will try and forward some copies of yhe more intersting photos, either by email or hard copy to a postal address.
    Some names of residents from the past:
    Major Charley Spasic, Warden, cruelly murdered in 1974
    Johnny Dunne, camp handyman
    Louie Carotti, worked on the farm, lived on the camp
    Dragoslav Antic, as Louie
    Stacko Dziedic, cook (poss suspect spelling of name!!)
    Zabo, joiner
    Bert Bryers
    Harry Watt (glaswegian)
    Jack Mitchell
    Ken Binns, worked on the horse drawn coal cart of my uncle Jonny Thorpe
    Arthur Binns, brother to Ken
    ps, greetings to Joao Franco. Iremember you calling in at the camp in 98 on uk tour on your black honda goldwing! You were from Lisbon?
    pps, I have a list of names and addresses that were left by about half dozen visitors mostly ex german pow,s/ postwar refugees

    My email address is he,thorpe@googlemail.com

  6. LEE ROBINSON says:

    i have just done the same as you harry googled pingley camp this place looks amazing im from scunthorpe myself i might just pop down and have a look at it before it gets redeveloped
    if you could email me some of those pics harry it would be great
    leerobinson1975@ntlworld.com

  7. joao franco says:

    Harry
    Nice to hear from you and the news about Pingley Farm camp future.
    I have a few pictures myself and will be glad to contribute to the work you have in mind to accomplish.
    What I would love to do is to be able to get in touch with some of the boys and girls that spent time there as foreign students or permanent residents during the summer of 1965.
    After my visit on a black Honda (by the way a VFR800 not Goldwing) in 1998 I visited you again in 2004 this time driving a car, with my girl friend and met you briefly at home and you were kind enough to give me some copies of old phtographs of the camp and people there.
    I remember you mentioned your plans to, one of these days, get yourself a good Jaguar and drive down to the Southern Coast countries with your family for a long deserved holiday. Make sure you call on me while in Lisbon when you accomplish that.
    All the best Harry

    Joao

  8. betty says:

    Spent 2 weeks in 1954 on a farming holiday with 3 friends. What fun we had. We would have good meals made for us that we ate in the dining room. We slept in huts. we were all English. In those days you could go to places all over England, Scotland and Wales to go on farming holidays. As I had done a potato picking holiday with my school in 1948 that is why we decided to go back to Lincolnshire.

    I went back in 1999 to visit Pingley Camp and it was sad to see it all in ruins.

    Nice to see all the photos taken of it.

  9. kennypingley says:

    how did pingley camp get called pingley camp…….im a pingley

  10. carol moore says:

    Hi harry iam a 47year old women who passes the camp every day as i live in howsham i dont know why but it intreges me as i have heard so many storys from people i worked with one was when howsham got snowed in in1947 an prisoners from the camp started digging a road throught to hosham is this right ,photos very intresting.

  11. Harry Thorpe says:

    In answer to Green Tiger’s query: the ‘records’ in the photo are egg production records. When I was a small kid Dad kept chickens in about 8 huts at the top of the camp. Poultry operation probably finished in about 1966.

    Answer to Kenny Pingley: Pingley Camp was called as such because it was built in ’43 on Pingley Farm. I came across a farm near Sleaford once called ‘Pingle Lea Farm’; which I thought had to be a variation on the name of our farm. Looking up ‘Pingle’ and ‘Lea’ in a big dictionary I discovered (if memory serves) that both words meant pretty much the same thing- basically, they were a small holding enclosure for stock, such as might have been used to hold stock overnight on the outskirts of a market town prior to driving them in to the livestock market on market day. And as our farm was situated right on the outside edge of the town it was obviously used in previous centuries in part for that purpose.

    Dear Carol, I had heard something along those lines but I know no details. The only person I can think of who might know this and other stories is a man called Eggy Bramall who started work on the farm aged 16 for my dad many years ago leaving the farm about mid 60’s and going to work for Cherry Valley at Caistor. He’s been retired some years now and lives in North Kelsey.

  12. David says:

    Hi Harry,
    I was wondering who owned this camp now.
    I was down by the camp a few days ago, I took some pictures from the footpath.
    Do you still own the land or has it passed over to the developers? As I’d love to get a bit closer to take some better pictures.
    Also do you happen to know what they plan to do on the land? Houses?

    Im 22 by the way, my interest in the camp is purely a wish to take pictures and curiosity!
    When I was there on saturday, I couldn’t help feel the history of the place, it is very eerie!

  13. Georg Pachernegg says:

    Hi Harry, I’m glad I found this!
    My father was a pow on Pingley farn camp between 1945 and 1948, he is talking much about this time and is very emotional about it. He remembers a certain Peter and Gordon and Andrew and I’m very much interested in ANY sort of information about the camp.
    I come to Yorkshire every now and then as a courier driver and always take him with me, and we simply must see the area one last time, if this is possible.
    Are there any documents left of that time, mentioning him? His name is Hans Pachernegg from Recklinghausen, Germany, he was light blond and slim at the time and might have been called Lazy Hans by nickname. Any help is extremely appreciated! Time is moving fast, and there might not be too much left for him, being 81.
    Please everybody who reads this and has got news for me contact me via email: g.org@gmx.de

    Cheers!
    Georg

  14. Emma says:

    Don’t ask me why or how i came upon this, i am Harry’s daughter and since i know first hand his lack of ability to use any form of technology, this means he has almost certainly forgotten all about this page, since everyone is asking questions recently, i’ll make sure he takes a look at it this week!

  15. TikTok says:

    We checked this out today. A couple of huts are completely flat, and several more and without walls, but the vast majority are still standing. There was a redevelopment sign at the road entrance though.

    We couldn’t find the drawings in the photographs above!

  16. Paco says:

    Harry, I worked on Pingley Farm during the summer 1963, I was a medical student. My memories from that time are fantastic, years later I met several guys from Pingley in Israel and in Spain. I have visited Birgg several times, very nice town, I have a close friend living in Brigg. I remenber your father, now I`m 65 and retired, I was a paediatric surgeon.
    I whould like to get pictures from the Pingley Camp I live in.
    Sincerely yours
    Paco (my nick name)

  17. Markakos says:

    I spent three months or so there in the summer of 1966 picking potatoes, factory work (a cannery in the center of Brigg, putting cans of green peas into big vats to be cooked or something – a backbreaking work, had to take breaks every 10 minutes), unloading heavy sacks of “fish flour” and storing/carrying them onto a big pile huge warehouse, wokring under lights all night levelling piles of green-peas husks in a little valley, hoeing up sugar beets, and/or doing extra work in the kithcen for Charlie (peeling potatoes, making jam sandwiches …). Farmers would come early in the morning to pick up those who wanted to work. Everything I did was the toughest work and time in my whole life … especially lifteing with pitch forks hay onto a tractor … two of us were needid to lift over our heads a bale high up to another guy up there … no water to drink, dust and pieces of hay/grass/dirt/thorns falling all over me, itching like hell … no stopping for a break or anything … BUT, it was, as I see it now, character building time … I was 18 at the time, a student, from the same country like Charlie/Dragan … he liked to talk to me in his native tongue – that’s how/why I also got kitchen jobs too … We used to watch “TOP OF THE POPS” shows on TV, go to pub(s) in Brigg, hitchhiking to Hull, Liverpool, Leeds, London … I was skinny like a dog from all that exertion … Many guys could not stand it and did not like it at all – but I did, I was a boy scout before that and served in the army later – Brigg was worse/tougher than a real brig on a ship … I was a city guy, but tough … my only problem was that I was much, much slower than country kids when picking potatoes on “accord” … kids from Portugal, smaller than myself but from farms/villages were twice as fast and full of stamina … Does anyone have any photos of the place as it looked then? With people in them – I, unfortunately have none … I also remember a young guy Patrick who used to come pick up farm hands in the mornings … maybe Mr. Thorpe’s relative?

  18. graham says:

    Camp flattened a week ago.

  19. Desanka Antic-Wraith says:

    I lived at Pingley Camp from birth untill i was abt 13yrs old.
    My father was Dragoslav Antic from Serbia, his health deteriorated shortly after leavin the camp in 1987 and sadly he died in nov 1988 aged 77. He worked on the farm and in the kitchen.
    We lived there with my mother and sister in numbers 21 and then 11.
    We have so many, many happy memories to treasure, we met some lovely people and made some lifelong friends.
    We all loved livin there and didn’t want to ever leave.

    Dear Harry, hope ur all well, thx 4 mentionin my dad, remembering ur dad, Jimmy, with love.
    Markakos thx for remembering my dad. 🙂
    This has really cheered me up no end, thank you.

    It breaks my heart to think its all gone now as the odd now and again a visit down the camp was like goin back in time to when we lived there.

    I’m sure in the future Harry will get his photo book put together and i will most definatly be purchasin afew copies for my 3 sons, whom have all visited the camp with me on a number of occasions.

  20. Indy500 says:

    A friend and I took what are probably the last pictures of this site before it was demolished.

    Please have a look at http://www.midlandsheritage.co.uk, find ‘MILITARY’ section and Pingley is there under ‘BRIGG POW CAMP’.

    These really are the last shots of this site…my best ever explore. ;-(

  21. Ed Straatman, Dintelstraat 18, 2987 TB Ridderkerk (Holland) says:

    The first time I see this website. I stayed nearly half a year on the Pingley Farm Camp, in the year 1963. I remembered Mr. Charley very well, however he did not like to be called Charley by the students. I was 18 years of age at that time. I did met a lot of people there, also in the pub (nearly every night after visiting the cinema, where I picked up the bad things in the moovies and ask explaination afterwards in the pup.
    I am now nearly 65 years and I `ll never forget Brigg.

  22. Richard Brosenitz says:

    i have just recieved a copy of my grandfathers marriage certificate and it states he was a german prisoner of war at Pingley Farm in 1948 i never new him and have no information as he left my grandmother and father soon after he was born to return to germany his name was Claudius Broesnitz if any one has any information please contact me on richard@urbanconstructioninteriors.co.uk any info would be very welcome

  23. TREVOR HOLMES says:

    I lived at Somerby Top during the war and 3 prisoners of war stayed there and worked on the farm . My mother used to cook meals for them and washed clothes. Their names were Eric, Henry and Hammond. Cant remember their surnames, but have a photo of mother and all 3. They were billeted from Pingley Camp. I used to go there on open days. Prisoners did help to dig out Howsham road also Somerby Top lane during 1947 before the big american diamond T with snowploughs came.

  24. Andy Lawtey says:

    My late father-in-law Mr Wasyl Tataryn was a POW? at Pingley, I believe that he came to Scotland in 1947 from a POW camp, some where in Italy. All that we really know of his past that he was from the Ukraine. Does any one have any info and or other names of any one who was at the camp at this time. He married a local girl and settled in the area.

  25. Francisco J. Pizarro says:

    I was at Pingley during 1963 summer holidays, my memories are fantastic. I picked potatoes as tall of us, worked in a factory in brigg. Charlie was a nice fellow. I would like to get news fron Margie Thompson, Sheila Winters, Anne Grimsby from Liverpool, Mario from Italy and so many others.
    Paco

  26. Christine says:

    I went to Pingley for two weeks in the summer of 1967 to do farm work and then again the following year to visit Charley, the warden, with a girl called Elaine whom I made friends with there. I remember the girls hut (set away from the others) where there was a small bedroom at the end for about three or four girls and a longer dormitory where I stayed. I think it looked out towards the water tower. We had to go to find the list to see who was working the following day, collect our packed lunch early next morning and wait for the farmer’s van to pick us up. I remember potato picking, pea stacking and beetroot picking but no idea where! Hard work in the heat of the sun but great fun! Other people were taken to work in the frozen food factories in places such as Grimsby and Scunthorpe. Most of the time we just stayed around the camp or went into Brigg.
    I was surprised to see that the place still existed until recently and disappointed that it is no longer there. I would have liked to have seen it again had I known. You can still see it in its derelict state on Google Earth.

  27. Ed Straatman, Dintelstraat 18, 2987 TB Ridderkerk (Holland) says:

    Francisco J. Pizarro (Paco) would you please mail me, because we must have met in 1963.
    Ed Straatman from Holland
    familiestraatman@gmail.com

  28. Richard Simmance says:

    My late father-in-law, Staff/Sergeant Cecil Hore, was at Pingley Farm Camp during the war, working in the Intelligence Corps as an Italian interpreter, from the camp’s opening until the beginning of 1944. I have a letter thanking him for his work there from (presumably) the commandant

  29. Delia says:

    I recently discovered that my grandfather was a prisoner in this camp. He was Italian and his name was Salvatore Puzzovio (pow number 825612). If you have information about him in that period (presumably around 1944-45), I’m interested, since I never met him.

  30. Joao Franco says:

    My name is Joao Franco I am a 63 year old Portuguese living in Lisbon. I spent about 6 month at Pingley in 1965 as a foreign student doing farm work to pay for my board and lodge.
    I was called Franco because nobody could pronounce my name right. I met practically everybody that spend a vacation there in that year and would love to hear from anyone reading this.
    I went back in 1998 and 2004.
    I have pictures taken in 1965 and on both my visits.
    But I also have something else. I have Charlies Attendance Record sheets from May to October 1965 with the names of the 4 or 5 staff members and the so called “residents”.
    I am now sure whether the names of several older men that had been there for many years (we were told they were basically war refugees) were included on the list.
    Any resident from 1965? Questions about names, just let me know.
    joao

  31. Julie Czornenkyj says:

    I am so glad I have discovered this site. My father in law was at Pingley Farm camp after the war, he was Ukranian and came over from Rimini in 1948. Having looked at the pictures I think we have some pictures of men in what looks like a hall having a celebration dinner. How do we send them to you. If ayone has any other information my Father in law was Stefan Czornenkyj

  32. nuccio scumaci says:

    Dear Harry ,
    My father was a italian POW at Pingley camp ,

    I was very lucky to be at the Brigg nursery in 2008 with my sister how had come to visit when we plucked up courage to knock on your sisters door to ask about the camp ,
    she showed us around the camp and said it was being pulled down in a few weeks ,
    what luck as I have lived in Lincoln since 1958 and didnt know that my Father [Giovanni Scumaci ] was at Pingley .
    I think he out worked for a farmer Edmond Brown but not sure he spoke about Crowle ,Epworth but not sure , If anyone can put any light on his working life before he was sent back to Italy,I would be very grateful .
    The feeling my sister and I got walking around the camp will stay with us forever .I know that progress is progress but what a gem ,so sad it’s gone

    Nuccio Anna

  33. Andrea Qudah says:

    My grandparent’s family were friends with Italian POWs based in Lincolnshire during WWII. I believe that they worked at the Scunthorpe steelworks and were housed at camps in the area – possibly Pingley Farm. Does anyone have memories of working at the steelworks or on farms around the steelworks?

    Andrea Qudah

  34. Patty Waddington says:

    I just found this web-site today. My Grandfather was a POW here for awhile. I found a piece of paper with his POW # and Pingley Farm Camp Brigg Lines & the date 1 July ’47 on it. Looking at the pics here was very emotional for me, I’m trying to find out as much as possible of his time in the military. And looking at these pics knowing he was actually standing there is great!
    If anyone can give me more info about the camp during this period, or actual info on my Grandfather – Hans Roth, POW # B102 686 – it would greatfully appreciated. Thank you. Patty wetsu@rogers.com

  35. David Armitage says:

    65 years ago I lived with may parents and two sisters (3 and 7) in Greenways, a bungalow, on the edge of the Camp I remember German soliders marching out in the morning under escort to work in the fields, and ambling back in the evening. My Dad said the guards had spent the day in the pub. One German soldier used to do our garden in the evening, and look after us if my parents went out. There was an aerodrome near by. My Dad got shouted at once by an air raiding warden for drawing back the curtains and putting all the lights on. He’d heard a plane circling, and thought it must have been “one of ours” looking for the runway. It wasn’t! We used to go to Mass at the RAF camp – we were once turned back because the camp hadf been bombed. My mother’s four brothers were in the services. One was in the infamous Stalag Luft III, the others had been in North Africa, Anzio and Normandy….

  36. Paul C says:

    Unfortunately the water tower, the last remaining bit, seems to have been demolished in the last few days. The site will eventually have luxury-style housing built on it.
    There’s nothing there now.

  37. Enzo Puzzovio says:

    Could you please put me in contact with Delia who posted her message on 10 February 2010? I might be able to help. Thanks, Enzo Puzzovio

  38. irene perez says:

    I was at Pingley in 1962 and shared a room with two girls from Manchester called Barbara and Cynthia (I cannot remember their surnames) – I would love to know how they are now. I met my first husband there, Florencio, a Spaniard from Tenerife – if anyone remembers him. I also remember two girls from Liverpool, one called Margaret, I cannot remember the others name and also a Spanish boy called Raphael.

    We all loved it there and none of us wanted to go back home – in fact, I never did – we went to London when the weather started to get cold. We loved Charley who was like a father to us and was devastated when I heard that he had been murdered (by someone from his own country).

    I have also been back in the last few years and was sad to see a place at one time being so full of life so desolate now.

    It will remain in my heart for ever.

  39. I have just found this web regarding Pingley and I am astonished because I did not imagine that memories could back come so. I have not heard anything since I was there as student in the summer of 1957 and I would be very happy to hear of someone that was there in that time. I am spanish, my name is Javier and I keep some fotos from that time

  40. Andrea Qudah says:

    I posted a message some time ago trying to trace Italian POWs who worked in or around Scunthorpe Steelworks. I am also interested in Italian POWs who lived at a camp in Low Santon and worked at the farm there. Can anyone help?

  41. Atilla Hitay says:

    I was there, in the Pingley Farm camp, in the months October to December 1963, as a Turkish student, trying to develop his English abilities. Unfortunately my memory is so weak or weakened that the only traces in my mind are:
    1-I remember I had great difficulties in picking potatoes.
    2-There was a lady kitchen worker who everybody were delighted teasing her.
    3-I watched the notorious assassination of JF Kennedy on TV there.
    4-I remember the cute and very dear English girls in the camp.

    To all friends I met there, I send my salutations and my best regards…

    Atilla Hitay

  42. Jenny says:

    I also stayed on the camp for about 10 days in 1966 until, unfortunately, my friend became ill and we had to return home. I couldn’t remember the warden’s name but remembered how kind he was to us and how useful his advice was “1 blanket underneath is worth 2 on top”. Despite it being summer, we needed the warmth in bed! Picking potatoes was hard work but worse was picking the green bits out of the tops of strawberries in the canning factory – my finger nails were quickly worn right down. Don’t remember if I ever managed to pick any bad peas out before they were canned as once you started looking at them on the conveyor belt, everything just became a blur of green.
    I have great memories of the truly international group of young people who were there at the time. I kept in touch with one for some time.

  43. David says:

    Sad to see that the camp has been demolished in 2009. I just got hold of a lot from a Belgian PoW during WW2, in it was a letter from a German prisoner (after the war) who was held at POW Camp nr 81, Lincolnshire…this camp. His name was Karl Meyer.

  44. Josephine Pepper says:

    I just came across this website, so interesting to read everyone’s experiences at Pingley. I went to Concordia farm camp in summer 1963 as a 15 year old schoolgirl earning some holiday money picking potatoes and stacking peas. I was very fond of Charlie Spasic and knitted him a cardigan that I took him the following winter. Never saw him or the camp again as I later went to work abroad and have lived in Chile for the past 37 years. Thanks for awakening sleeping memories!

  45. im maria lambert now,but was maria lukianczuk,daughter of stefan,p.o.w. at pingley camp.i was born and baptised at pingley camp in 1957,we continued to go to to sunday mass after we were living in bigby rd, i managed to visit the camp just days before demolition,it was a sad day,bringing back memories of my very early childhood.

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