Tuesday, 12 June 2012

We’re all going on a summer holiday…

Glancing out of a window in Manchester its not often you see the sun. This may be a Manchester cliche but unfortunately for us residents it’s regularly a true fact. On the Together Trust site in Cheadle where our central offices are now resident, the buildings are surrounded by countryside, making it a beautiful place whatever the weather. In fact when we first moved here in 1920 we had 22.5 acres of land for the children to enjoy. Previous to this however, when we worked in the centre of Manchester, the city slums of old must have been a dismal place in the frequent rain.

Typical city slum in Manchester

There were many children in these slums who, although were living in poor conditions, had a permanent home and consequently no need for the residential services provided by the charity. What they did need however was a chance to be away from the doldrums of city life and the opportunity to play. They needed a holiday!

Games at the summer camp c.1920 (Together Trust ref: PH/3/2/1)

In 1883 two second-hand tents were bought and 20 boys accommodated for a fortnight in Morecambe. These few tents, a cooking stove and rough lavatory proved primitive arrangements, but allowed the boys to be out in the fresh sea air away from the city slums. The small experiment proved a great success and by 1888 a more permanent site at Ansdell near Lytham was chosen with accommodation provided for around 120 boys per week.

By 1893 the camp had moved to Birkdale, on land lent by Charles Weld-Blundell, Esquire, where it remained until its closure at the beginning of the Second World War. Here the site turned into a permanent encampment more than doubling accommodation to 300 boys per week. In 1913, at its highest peak, 3,186 boys were given a week long holiday here, where they played games, bathed in the sea and were given wholesome food. Children were recommended by City Missionaries and Ragged School Teachers amongst others. 1s 6d was contributed by the children towards the 7s it cost to accommodate them.

Summer camp at Birkdale c.1920s (Together Trust ref: PH/1/2/3)

“If I am mistaken about the educational value of a visit to camp (and I don’t think I am), and if a week or a fortnight is too short to have much physical value, one thing is certain, and that is the unadulterated delight and happiness of the children." Canon Peter Green, in a letter to the Manchester Guardian about the summer camp at Birkdale.


  1. Another fascinating insight into why the work of the trust was so important and what wonderful pictures

  2. I'm wondering if the boys that were admitted into care on a permanent basis had access to the summer camp (1896 - 1908 in particular)? Wonderful blog, very informative and interesting!


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