Washington Hall, built to house munition workers at Chorley ROF, resulted in ‘German Lane’ being re-named Washington Lane in 1942. KAY TAYLOR finds out more.
Before becoming Lancashire’s fire training centre, Euxton’s Washington Hall was used by the United States Air Force during the Second World War, by the Ministry of Defence, and even as a rehabilitation base for prisoners of war returning home.
According to Lancashire Fire Service records, the farmland was acquired on the outbreak of war and developed as an accommodation centre for the Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) in Euxton.
Although it was estimated that accommodation would be required for about 400 munition workers and provisions made accordingly, it was soon discovered that the centre would not be required for such a purpose, due to the availability of a large workforce in the local area. It was used for a short while as a feeding and amenities centre instead.
In 1942 it was occupied by the 127th Replacement Battalion of the United States Air Force, who further developed the buildings to suit their particular needs, adding a cinema and hospital block.
It was during this time that the establishment was given the name Washington Hall. The lane leading to the site was, at that time, called German Lane, which was quickly changed to Washington Lane.
On cessation of hostilities, the American Forces were demobilised.
In 1946, repatriated troops from Japanese Prisoner of War camps were accommodated there for the purpose of rehabilitation and recuperation.
This continued until 1948, at which time the premises were acquired by the Ministry of Education for use as a teacher training college, to re-train teachers returning from service with the armed forces.
From 1954 to 1958, the centre accommodated the training of Royal Air Force mobile fire columns as part of a Ministry of Defence emergency programme, and it was during this time that drill towers and open water dams were provided.
The Auxiliary Fire Service continued to use the centre until 1964, at which time the premises were bought by Lancashire County Council to replace the Fire Brigade Training School located at Morecambe.
In July 1964, Lancashire County Fire Brigade took up occupation of the Washington Hall Training School, offering training in all aspects of firefighting and fire safety, which is still its purpose today.
The new Chorley Community Fire Station is also based there now.