National Camps Corporation

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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.[1]


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.[2] The Act prompted the creation of the National Camps Corporation to oversee these camps.[3] Lord Portal was given the task of chairing the Corporation.[1] The initial funding given to the Corporation was £1.2 million, half of which was as a loan.[1]

Construction of the camps[edit]

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.[1] 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.[3] 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.[1] The design of each camp was similar, consisting of huts made out of Canadian cedarwood, designed by architect Thomas Smith Tait.[1] Each camp was designed to accommodate approximately 350 children.[3] The average cost of each camp was £25,000.[3]

Wartime and post-war use[edit]

During the Second World War these camps were used as schools for evacuated children, run by local education authorities.[2] The first camp to be used in this way was at Kennylands, near Reading.[2] Some modifications were required for this purpose, as the camps had been intended for temporary holiday guests, rather than a semi-permanent population.[3] This had the obvious consequence of reducing the number of evacuees who could be housed at such camps to over 9000 nationally.[3] 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".[2]

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[edit]

Name Location Initial Authority (WW2) Users after sale/lease Subsequent Users Current Status
Brownrigg Camp School[4] Bellingham, Northumberland Newcastle 1945, Northumberland Education Committee Co-educational boarding school Caravan site
Colomendy Camp School[5] 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[6] Ewhurst, Surrey Catford 1946, Greater London Council Rural Studies Centre Outdoor and Environmental Learning Centre
Sheephatch Camp School[7] Tilford, Surrey Leyton 1946, Surrey County Council Co-educational boarding school Owned by Ahmadiyya Muslim Association
Stokenchurch Camp School[8] Horsleys Green, Buckinghamshire Disabled children 1947, Lancashire County Council Horsleys Green School, an all-boys boarding school UK headquarters for Wycliffe Bible Translators[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Morris, Clifford. "The National Camps Corporation" (PDF). Old Derbeian Society. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Dent, H. C. (2007). Education in Transition. Read Books. pp. 96–98. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Cole, Margaret (1940). Evacuation Survey: A Report to the Fabian Society. Taylor & Francis. pp. 279–280. 
  4. ^ "About Brownrigg School". Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "All change for Colomendy". BBC. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "Camp Schools". 
  7. ^ "Camp Schools". Screen Archive South East. University of Brighton. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  8. ^ "Horsleys Green School: Old Boys and Staff Website". Archived from the original on 7 May 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  9. ^ "Stokenchurch". Archived from the original on 7 May 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011.