LOOKING BACK: Summerdown display extended by popular demand

A theatre group at Summerdown Camp
A theatre group at Summerdown Camp

The highly emotive Summerdown Camp exhibition which has been open at the Pavilion, Royal Parade, since March, is being extended until December 13 due to its popularity.

Originally the free exhibition was due to end on November 15, but since having more than 20,000 visitors through its doors, the Eastbourne Heritage Service has decided to continue the exhibition to give visitors one more month to discover the fascinating and heart-warming stories of the World War One convalescent camp.

Summerdown Camp opened in Eastbourne in 1915 and was the first and largest convalescent camp in the UK during the First World War, treating more than 150,000 wounded soldiers in the five years the camp was open.

he exhibition uncovers some of the pioneering medical treatments and occupational therapies which were used to treat injured soldiers, tells the stories of the astonishing and valiant women who worked at the camp, as well as the endearing stories of some of the soldiers who rehabilitated at the camp, and also displays star finds such as an extraordinary ring made by a Summerdown Camp solider.

Eastbourne Borough Council lead cabinet member for culture, tourism and enterprise, Margaret Bannister said, “The exhibition, which commemorates 100 years since Summerdown Camp opened, has received such positive feedback from visitors this year. They have commented on how moving it is, as well as the brilliant interactive elements of the exhibition and extensive content on display; which has collectively helped in gaining an understanding of what life was like for all who stayed at the camp.

“With a story like this to tell and one which demonstrates Eastbourne’s strong heritage and brings so many visitors to the town, it seemed imperative that we kept the exhibition open for a little longer. I urge anyone who is yet to visit the exhibition to ensure they do before December 13.”

Since the Heritage Lottery Funded project opened, it has attracted family members of both Summerdown Camp soldiers and women who worked there who have come to share more stories about their relatives with Eastbourne’s Heritage team

The Eastbourne based family of Dorothy Boys, a pantry maid, shared the story of how she met her future husband, solider Richard Nelson at Summerdown Camp who eventually settled and raised their family in the town.

The end of Summerdown Camp exhibition leads the way for a brand new exhibition in 2016.

Living on the Edge: Eastbourne’s Prehistoric Mystery is an innovative exhibition revealing the previously untold stories of Eastbourne’s internationally important Bronze Age discovery.

For the first time, the ground-breaking discoveries in Shinewater Park will be explored, giving visitors a chance to travel back in time to walk alongside the astonishingly rare Bronze Age trackway built by Eastbourne residents in the distant past.

Next year’s exhibition will uncover the mysteries of the incredible people living in Eastbourne more than 3,000 years ago, reveal some of their treasures, and help visitors to piece together a prehistoric puzzle, enabling the discovery of tales of international visitors and human inventiveness. This exhibition will be at the Pavilion on Eastbourne seafront from March 21 to November 13 2016.

The Summerdown Camp exhibition is open at the Pavilion daily from 11am-4pm until December 13. Entry is free.

n Visit www.eastbournemuseums.co.uk

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