First look at Springtown Camp commemorative public artwork

The new Springtown Camp art installation features a replica of the nissan huts.
The new Springtown Camp art installation features a replica of the nissan huts.

Those behind a public art installation commemorating the thousands of people who lived at Springtown Camp, hope to have it installed by the end of July, it has been confirmed.

Willie Deery from the Springtown Camp Historical Group, said they were planning to unveil the work in late July, to coincide with a former US Navy personnel Reunion in Derry at that time.

Fundraising for the installation is ongoing and the permanent artwork will take the form of a replica of the former US Army Nissan huts local families were forced to live in for over 21 years until the camp was closed in 1967.

It will be installed at the top of Springtown Road and there will also be two adjacent commemorative plaques/totems and a large steel panel mapping out the location of the huts and the families that lived there.

Springtown Camp was supposed to be a temporary base for the U.S. Navy before becoming home to over 400 local families, who, through their fight against discrimination and for proper housing, were the first to stage a Civil Rights march in Derry and a sit-in at The Guildhall.

Mr. Deery, who was born in Springtown Camp and lived there until he was 17, had to make several trips to London to source the information needed for the artwork. He said: “We designed it ourselves and we have been putting it together over the past 12 months. It should look well when it is finished. It will be very emotional and people whose grannies, mothers and families lived there will be able to point to the hut.”

Speaking on life in the Camp, he said: “There was such a stigma. Some employers and business people thought us young people had to be bad because the conditions were bad. Few people know that over 25 per cent of people shot on Bloody Sunday lived in Springtown Camp.

“The population of Derry was 62,500 and nearly 5,000 came through the Camp. The community spirit was unbelievable - I never remember a door being closed in Springtown camp in my life. Everybody was the same social standing, everybody helped each other.”

The total cost of the installation including fees, is just under £20,000. To date the Group have raised £14,000 through funding applications, leaving a shortfall of £6,000. To donate check out: www.facebook.com/donate/442306769853067/