National Camps Corporation
The National Camps Corporation was a British government-funded non-profit organisation established under the Camps Act 1939. The role of the corporation was to construct and administer camps in the countryside that could be used for educational experiences.
In the context of preparations for war, a Camps Act was passed in April 1939, which provided for the construction of government-financed camps for use as educational holiday centres for children during peacetime, and as camps for evacuees during war. The Act prompted the creation of the National Camps Corporation to oversee these camps. Lord Portal was given the task of chairing the Corporation. The initial funding given to the Corporation was £1.2 million, half of which was as a loan.
Construction of the camps
The government's expectation was that the corporation would construct fifty camps, but in reality only 31 were built in England and Wales, with a further five in Scotland. The cessation of the construction of new camps was mainly due to the increased costs as a result of war, and the realisation that such camps were not a completely adequate solution to the problem of evacuation. The sites were chosen by Lord Portal and members of the board, out of an original short-list of 155, although some of these sites were taken by the Royal Air Force before the Corporation could decide on them. The design of each camp was similar, consisting of huts made out of Canadian cedarwood, designed by architect Thomas Smith Tait. Each camp was designed to accommodate approximately 350 children. The average cost of each camp was £25,000.
Wartime and post-war use
During the Second World War these camps were used as schools for evacuated children, run by local education authorities. The first camp to be used in this way was at Kennylands, near Reading. Some modifications were required for this purpose, as the camps had been intended for temporary holiday guests, rather than a semi-permanent population. This had the obvious consequence of reducing the number of evacuees who could be housed at such camps to over 9000 nationally. Nevertheless, in November 1940 the Minister of Health Malcolm MacDonald described the camps as "one of the most significant pieces of work that Parliament has lent its hand to in recent times".
In the decades following the war, most of these camps were sold to county councils and education authorities for use as schools.
List of National Camps Corporation sites
|Name||Location||Initial Authority (WW2)||Users after sale/lease||Subsequent Users||Current Status|
|Brownrigg Camp School||Bellingham, Northumberland||Newcastle||1945, Northumberland Education Committee||Co-educational boarding school||Caravan site|
|Colomendy Camp School||Loggerheads, Denbighshire||Liverpool||1957, Liverpool Corporation||Residential secondary school||Outdoor activity centre|
|Finnamore Wood Camp||Marlow, Buckinghamshire||Redbridge, Greater London||1960, Home Office||HM Prison||Derelict/Disused|
|Sayers Croft Camp School||Ewhurst, Surrey||Catford||1946, Greater London Council||Rural Studies Centre||Outdoor and Environmental Learning Centre|
|Sheephatch Camp School||Tilford, Surrey||Leyton||1946, Surrey County Council||Co-educational boarding school||Owned by Ahmadiyya Muslim Association|
|Stokenchurch Camp School||Horsleys Green, Buckinghamshire||Disabled children||1947, Lancashire County Council||Horsleys Green School, an all-boys boarding school||UK headquarters for Wycliffe Bible Translators|
- Morris, Clifford. "The National Camps Corporation" (PDF). Old Derbeian Society. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- Dent, H. C. (2007). Education in Transition. Read Books. pp. 96–98.
- Cole, Margaret (1940). Evacuation Survey: A Report to the Fabian Society. Taylor & Francis. pp. 279–280.
- "About Brownrigg School". Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- "All change for Colomendy". BBC. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- "Camp Schools".
- "Camp Schools". Screen Archive South East. University of Brighton. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- "Horsleys Green School: Old Boys and Staff Website". Archived from the original on 7 May 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
- "Stokenchurch". Radnage.net. Archived from the original on 7 May 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011.