War camp project gets £8,500 grant

Summerdown Camp
Summerdown Camp

Eastbourne Heritage Service has received a £8,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a project exploring the role of Summerdown Camp during the First World War.

Working with local volunteers, the project focuses on the stories of the people who worked and convalesced at Summerdown Camp and its impact on local life during the period.

The project will offer a vital opportunity to reflect and commemorate the lives of the soldiers briefly resident in Eastbourne during the First World War.

Councillor Carolyn Heaps said, “It is very exciting that this project will be coming to life, offering a vital opportunity to reflect and commemorate the lives of the soldiers briefly resident in Eastbourne during the First World War.”

The camp opened in April 1915 and was the first, and at the time the largest, of three purpose built convalescent camps designed for rehabilitation of the wounded from the First World War.

The camp was dismantled in 1920 and most of the land has since been redeveloped as housing.

The only existing reminders of the camp are in the street names Summerdown Road and Old Camp Road.

The soldiers being cared for at the camp were known as ‘Blueboys’ because of the coloured uniforms they were required to wear.

They became a familiar sight around Eastbourne and brought home the terrible realities of war as well as some much welcomed soldierly cheer to the town’s residents.

Eastbourne Heritage Service is looking for any information about Summerdown Camp and the people who convalesced and worked there.

So if you have any stories or objects from Summerdown Camp or would like to get involved in the project, email Katherine.buckland@eastbourne.gov.uk or 01323 415641.