Gilling Labour Camp

Between the two world wars, that is between 1918 and 1939, there was established a number of camps for the unemployed. One such camp was created near Gilling, and called the Gilling Labour Camp. It was situated near High Lions Farm or house. Its exact position was at 579 756 expressed as an O.S. Grid Reference. Really it is in the parish of Yearsley and not in Gilling at all.

How many men were housed here and in what I do not yet know, but I would surmise they were in wooden huts on concrete bases. Villagers recall that they were wont to come in groups to Gilling or Ampleforth where there were pubs. They were armed with long stout staves. They had some difference with the Ampleforth policeman. One evening they came into Ampleforth and beat him up so seriously that he had to be taken to hospital. On his recovery he had his revenge when he gave seven of them a sound thrashing.

What these men worked at I do not know but one suggestion was that they worked for the Forestry Commission. It was also stated that they had been seen digging gardens on or near the camp-site. The name of the Ampleforth policeman was Lawson, and his son was still living in Ampleforth in 1987 but seriously ill. He is reputed to know a lot about the Labour Camp.

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