Fundraiser launched to preserve prisoner of war camp and part of Bridgend's history

By Corrie David

A volunteer group that cares for a World War II prisoner of war camp are fundraising in an attempt to preserve the town's history.

The group have been generously loaned a building adjacent to Hut 9 at Island Farm, Bridgend, for the last eight years. Now, however, the owner has informed the group that he intends to sell.

The owner had intended to knock down the old BT building in favour of housing, however he was unable to achieve planning permission.

While his appeals were rejected, he allowed the history group to use the building to host lectures, store artefacts, and much-needed open days for the Prisoner of War Camp.

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Volunteer Brett Exton set up the fundraiser to ensure the future of their open days can continue.

He explained: "If we don't raise the money, I'm not saying the group will diminish altogether, but it will drastically change what we are able to do.

"We currently host open days on weekends of over 1,000 people, all to learn about Island Farm, without that building those open days become impractical."

The building hosts lectures, memorobilia, school trips, and open days for the historic site (Island Farm)

The camp, named Island Farm, was originally used as a dormitory for factory workers, however, in the 1940's the dorm was transformed into a prisoner of war camp which housed around 2000 Germans.

Today, only Hut 9 remains. Brett explained how Hut 9 "housed 70 prisoners who escaped, making it the largest escape of any prisoner of war camp in Great Britain."

Now, the historians share the hut with bats, which are protected.

Because of this, the external building is essential to continue running such large-scale tours and open days.

Brett praised the volunteer team, "It's incredible how much time we devoted to the site.

"We're often literally from early evening till after midnight. That's how passionate we are.

"That building helps support school visits, open days, things like that which we currently do with the use of that building.

"If we lose it, then you know we can't do that anymore."

Unfortunately, the group must raise £40,000 if they would like to officially take over the building.

"I appreciate that it's a lot of money, and I do appreciate that, and I know it's probably going to take a lot of time unless a very generous person makes a substantial donation," Brett shared.

He assured that should the fundraising not go their way, the money will be invested in continuing to purchase memorabilia for Hut 9.

The Island Farm fundraiser can be found here.

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