Blackshaw Moor Army Camp, subsequently Blackshaw Moor Polish Resettlement Camp, was occupied by US Army forces in 1943-44 and by Polish allied military personnel and their families from 1946 to 1964.
Blackshaw Moor Camp was built as four separate camps on the east side of Buxton Road opposite the Three Horseshoes Inn. The Camp was built at a crucial time in the nation’s history, and played a noteworthy role in the outcome of the Second World War. First the Camp was a station for US Army forces preparing for the Normandy invasion, then after the war it housed Allied Polish servicemen and their families who were refugees from Soviet-occupied Poland.
The site is part of former Camp 3 of the four Blackshaw Moor Camps. Originally there were a total of 77 buildings on Camp 3, 18 of which stood on our site, as shown by the 1954-55 Ordnance Survey map opposite. Today only 4 of the original buildings survive, in largely unaltered condition.
As a Polish Resettlement Camp, Blackshaw Moor has strong associations and memories for many first and second generation Polish immigrants in Leek and the Staffordshire Moorlands, as has been documented by the Polish Resettlement Camps in the UK 1946-1969 research project by Z & J Biegus and in the locally produced book A Long Way From Home edited by Sheena Barnes of Borderland Voices.
All four surviving buildings at former Camp 3 were functionally built in single-skin brickwork with angle section steel trussed roofs, or reinforced concrete stanchions, surfaced with corrugated sheeting. The largest of the four buildings is understood to have been the Army mess building, before Camp 3 was occupied by Polish families.
The buildings at Camp 3 are the best surviving examples of buildings at the Blackshaw Moor Camp still in their original form. Camps 1, 2 and 4 have been completely redeveloped and only a small number of other Camp buildings survive at Blackshaw Moor, but all of these are either in poor and unusable condition or have been radically altered to suit a new use.
The site has historic significance for its contribution to housing and training American forces in preparation for the successful Normandy landing in 1944, for its role in the resettlement of refugee Polish allies from 1946 to 1964, and for the establishment of the local Polish community in Leek and North Staffordshire.
Leek Cohousing has asked Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to add the four buildings on our site to the Local Heritage Register, as we wish to recognise their heritage value in our development and re-use the existing buildings as far as possible.