Canteen staff, Drake Hall, near Eccleshall

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Date:1942 - 1945 (c.)

Description:Canteen staff at Drake Hall during World War II. On the right is Veronica 'Ronnie' Martin from Edinburgh who started work at Drake Hall aged 22. As well as the canteen at Drake Hall, she also worked at ROF Swynnerton munitions factory. She was born in the United States, but her Irish parents moved to Scotland when she was 6 months old. While working at the canteen she met her future husband, Jimmy Monteith, who was in the RAF and based in Staffordshire.

Drake Hall was built by the Ministry of Supply to accommodate munitions at nearby R.O.F. Swynnerton and opened in 1942. It was named after Sir Francis Drake. There were 15 residential blocks, each with a male name, arranged alphabetically. At the centre of the site was an assembly hall, games room, canteen, kitchen, sick bay and administrative block. Many of the residents came from Ireland and Scotland and the Manager was Mr J.H. Damms. The Manageress and Welfare Officer was Mrs D.H. Damms. A wide range of activities, entertainments, talks, lectures and dramatic productions were put on for the residents, as well as a wide range of indoor games and sport, including netball, hockey, tennis, badminton, cricket and football.

Towards the end of the War Drake Hall hosted 132 evacuees, all of whom were old age pensioners. It closed shortly after the end of the Second World War but reopened in shortly after as an Emergency Teacher Training College for Men. During the 1960s it became a male open prison. In 1974 it became a female open prison. Most of the accommodation blocks were rebuilt in 1994-95 and in 2009 it became a closed prison.

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Creators: Mrs Maria Montieith - Contributor

Image courtesy of: Mrs Maria Monteith

Donor ref:MariaMonteith#1 (55/39945)

Source: Miscellaneous Collection

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