Event to mark centenary of Old Town camp

Summerdown Camp SUS-150225-161105001
Summerdown Camp SUS-150225-161105001

Eastbourne is holding a commemorative centenary event to mark the arrival of the first wounded soldier at Summerdown Camp – the UK’s first and largest World War One convalescent camp.

Taking place on April 8 (11am-3pm) at the Pavilion, the event will reflect on the lives of the people who worked and convalesced at the camp.

It also celebrates the new free interactive Summerdown Camp exhibition which opens at the Pavilion on March 16. The emotive exhibition uncovers the pioneering medical treatments and occupational therapies used to treat injured soldiers, as well as displaying star finds such as an extraordinary ring made by a Summerdown Camp soldier.

On April 8 visitors can step back in time and experience the daily life of camp soldiers and nurses. Visitors can take part in basket making and embroidery, two of the vital therapies undertaken at the camp; talk to a ‘wounded solider’; learn how a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps cook fed more than’ 300 soldiers each meal time; listen to relatives of camp soldiers talk about their ancestors experiences; try on a ‘Blue Boys’ uniform and have a guided tour of the exhibition.

Bringing a wealth of history to the town, Summerdown Camp opened in April 1915, designed to rehabilitate wounded and distressed soldiers from the front line. More than 150,000 soldiers were treated at the camp which closed in 1920. Housing has since been built on the land, and reminders of the camp can be found in Old Town street names, such as Summerdown Road and Old Camp Road.

The Heritage Lottery Funded project was undertaken by the Eastbourne Heritage Service, alongside project volunteers.

The Summerdown Camp exhibition runs from March 15-November 15.