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Summerdown WW1 camp

Over the last few months the BBC World War One project has been capturing stories about locations around the UK and their connections with the Great War. In February this year the recording team visited Eastbourne to work with Katherine Buckland from the town’s museum to tell the story of Summerdown Convalescent Camp. This was situated on the site that is now part of the games facilities of Eastbourne College

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 many horrific theatres of the First World War. The camp was dismantled in 1920 and the only existing reminders 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 (and often ill fitting) uniform 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.

The BBC programme about Summerdown Camp was aired on BBC Sussex on Sunday 1 June and included interviews with several College pupils and Anthony Lamb, Assistant Head, Co-Curricular. The programme may be heard via this link: BBC World War 1 – Summerdown Camp