German prisoners of war homed in Crich

The view of Crich Quarry from the top of Crich Memorial Tower.
The view of Crich Quarry from the top of Crich Memorial Tower.

A bakery in Crich was home to German prisoners of war during the winter throughout WWI, as they worked in the Quarry.

Still a bakery today, The Loaf was used by the prisoners, who slept in tents near to the site where they worked during the summer, as a place to stay during the colder months.

During the war, what is now The Loaf was still a bakery and also a candle factory, and it is claimed that some local residents at the time were kind to the prisoners.

Patrick Cooke, from Crich, said that his mother and her parents befriended the prisoners at the time, baking for them.

He added: “German prisoners of war were assigned to work in the quarry during the war, they camped there in the summer and were housed in what is now The Loaf, my grandma used to bake scones and cakes for them.”

In a 1998 interview Olive Cooke, Patricks mother, told of how the prisoners of war used to push ‘threepenny bits’ under the doors of the bakery for her and her siblings.

She said at the time: “I remember German prisoners of war working in the quarry, and my father befriending these young men.

“They would often confide in my father that they missed their families and friends in Germany, my mother used to bake scones for them and they became friends.

“First of all they lives in tents in a field near Hilts Quarry where they worked, but the cold and rain of winter time forced the authorities to find them somewhere else to live.

“Some then went to live on Crich Market Place.”

It is also understood that three of the prisoners died and were buried in Crich churchyard.

Between the wars, the bodies were taken back to Germany, the men were Otto Gehrhardt aged 23, Franj Kaminski aged 28 and Franz Koyub aged 31.

Speaking of the prisoners. Mrs Cooke added: “The P.O.Ws would push threepenny bits through gaps in the woodwork for me and my brothers and sister.”