7:30am Friday 6th June 2014
By Gina Bebbington
LONG summers of woodland exploration and bitterly cold winters with icicled windows are among the memories of an idyllic childhood living at a Northwich park.
Pauline Campbell was born at Marbury Country Park in 1950 and lived there until her family moved to Urmston in 1962.
The eldest of five children, Pauline was part of a surprisingly large community that inhabited around 200 former prisoner of war huts in the park.
“It’s only now we realise how incredible it was,” she said.
“When you grow up in a place like that you don’t think about its history or anything like that but when you leave and look back you think ‘oh my God’.”
The Campbells, including mum Kathleen, dad Paul and children Patricia, Christine, Caroline and Andrew, as well as Patricia, lived at the park when it was owned by ICI and used to house its workers.
The beautiful Marbury Hall was still intact and in use and the huts were split into two areas called East Park and West Park.
Now there is no trace of the hall or the huts but Patricia, who visits the park every weekend with her sister Christine, says it is somehow unchanged.
“It’s like I’ve never been away, even though the houses aren’t there any more, it’s really strange,” she said.
“Even the swimming pool is the same – in about 1954 there was a little board there where they would chalk up the water temperature and that’s still there.
“Nothing has changed at all, apart from the hall – they shouldn’t have knocked that down.”
The hall was the location for ICI Christmas parties and social events for the workers and their families.
“If you went to the side of the hall there was a door and if you went in there was a room on the right where I remember a massive TV, although it would have been one of the early tellies,” she said.
“There were lots of nice ornaments and vases and billiard tables further along.
“Mum and Dad used to go to the hall on Saturday nights for dancing.”
The Campbells lived at two huts during their stay at the park.
The first, 127 East Park, was small but brick built and the second, 100 East Park, was wooden but bigger to accommodate the expanding family.
It was also a former chapel for the German prisoners of war, with a view of the hall from the back door.
Pauline said: “I think we moved because the wooden huts were bigger but even the wooden ones were only two bedrooms.
“We didn’t have central heating then – we had a coal fire in the living room and used to have paraffin heaters.
“Winters seemed to be really cold back then and the windows used to be frozen with icicles.”
But it is the summers that Pauline remembers the most.
“In the summer we spent all day long in the pool – Dad worked at ICI so we didn’t have to pay,” she said.
“We played in the fields, played down by the mere and used to walk all the way down to where Big Wood is.
“We had a tree in our garden that they think the horse, the Marbury Dunne, was buried under and another tree on the other side by the front door.
“There were trees everywhere and the huts were built amongst them.
“I’m not sure if all together there were about 200 houses.
“I think that’s why it’s such a magical place, because it’s so peaceful and quiet and it was then, even with the houses.”
For more information about Marbury Park and the hall visit marburyhall.com
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