A Heritage Lottery-funded project about a Second World War internment camp in Bury has partnered with Aksa Homes to create a lasting memorial to the men held captive as ‘enemy aliens’ in 1940.

The memorial, a concrete cast of suitcases – the type internees would have carried with them was unveiled on Monday 17 December at Aksa Homes’ Park Royal development in Bury, Greater Manchester as part of the Warth Mills Project.

(L-R) Bury Council Leader Cllr Rishi Shori and Jigsaw’s Katie Marshall, Peter Bacon, Garnet Fazackerley and Lee Williamson.

The Warth Mills Project has been running for over a year and has seen content agency Unity House tell the story of the Germans and Italians interned in the derelict cotton mill. They were regarded as suspected spies despite some having arrived in Britain as infants, and others as Jewish refugees.

Housing association Aksa Homes, part of Jigsaw Homes Group, is building 65 new homes at the Park Royal development off Warth Road in Bury. It is their first new build scheme in Bury and will host a permanent memorial specifically dedicated to those internees who never made it home.

Richard Shaw, from Unity House, said: “We’re hugely grateful to Aksa Homes for agreeing to match fund and install this memorial. In July 1940, hundreds of Italian men were taken from Warth Mills and placed on the SS Arandora Star. The ship was torpedoed en route to Canada with a huge loss of life. Memorials to the victims of the Arandora Star exist in the UK, Italy, Ireland and Australia. It’s a fitting legacy of the project to create a memorial near the Warth Mills site, where the men spent their last nights.”

Garnet Fazackerley, Jigsaw Group’s Operations Director of Development added: “We’re delighted to work with the local community on this project to help keep these historical stories alive for our residents and future generations. We already manage homes in Bury, but Park Royal is our first new affordable housing scheme in the borough and we look forward to opportunities to build more much-needed housing in the area.”

The memorial has been made by Ormskirk-based company, Scartworks and was unveiled at a ceremony attended by the Leader of Bury Council Cllr Rishi Shori, Jigsaw Homes Group, Unity House and volunteers on the project.

Bury Council’s Leader, Cllr Shori added: “Local history is an integral part of a community and this superb memorial, albeit remembering unhappier times, will add to our knowledge. It also reminds us of people’s need for a safe and happy home, which this development of affordable housing will bring to those in Bury who need it.”

The Park Royal development, which completes in January 2019, will provide a mix of homes for affordable rent and shared ownership with between one and four bedrooms. For those who are interested, there are a handful of shared ownership properties at Park Royal still available.

More information at Snugg Homes on 01942 267 819 / www.snugghomes.co.uk

About Unity House

Unity House is based at The Met in Bury and work on projects that engage communities in learning about the arts, sciences and local heritage. Clients include the National Trust, Public Health England and the Science Museum, London.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.