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St Joseph's Early Memories of Carlton Camp

Compiled by Margaret Hodgson

Carlton Camp was a great experience for the children. Mrs. Ursula Mary Craig (nee Knight), Richard Court, Hartlepool wrote this account for the Hartlepool Mail.  

Memories of Carlton Camp: Straw from the farm for sleeping mats.

With reference to the letter in Memory Lane about Carlton Camp Outdoor Centre school visits (November 20), I was there in 1935, the second week after it opened.  I was 13 years old, I am now 82 and I can remember nearly everything about it.

I was with St. Joseph’s School; St. Cuthbert’s School was there at the same time.

Usually the visit was Saturday to Saturday but as the two schools were Catholic we had to go to Mass on Sunday so we went Sunday to Saturday.

We were told to take two blankets, a pillowcase and pocket money of not more than three pence.  I had one penny as I was from a big family and my dad was unemployed.

We set off at 11 o’clock and arrived for Sunday lunch.  We ate lunch, moved the tables, washed up the dishes and then were given bags made of Hessian; they were long and about 36 inches wide.

We were told to take them down to the barn belonging to the farm and fill them with straw.  These were what we were to sleep on, on the floor with our pillow cases on the pillows; they were all placed close to the walls stacked on top of each other.

We were then told we could go out to play, but ‘not outside the field.’

There were seesaws – and a rush to get to them.  We spent the rest of the afternoon playing games, and then it was teatime.  After tea we had to put our ‘mattresses’ on the floor in a line and put one blanket over it, then the other blanket was to cover over us, we all slept well.

When we awoke we went to the annex where there were six wash sinks and six toilets.  The towels were provided – two roller towels for all of us – did the job.  After breakfast we were given a small task each – housework – washing up and sweeping the floors.

After lunch Miss Anderson and Miss Corcoran, the teachers, took us all for a ramble up into the hills, they were beautiful.

On Tuesday after lunch we were given a sheet of writing paper and an envelope, we had to write a letter to our parents.

On Wednesday we walked to the village to post the letters.  At that time a stamp was one penny, and that is all I had.  All the other girls were buying sweets, I did not want to be left out so instead of sealing the letter I put the flap inside and bought a halfpenny stamp and then I got a halfpenny-worth of marzipan teacakes so I wasn’t left out.  As we walked further into the village there was a stream in the middle of the road and we heard a clip-clop, out of a lane came a party of hunting men and women, they looked fantastic in their red and black outfits.  We did a lot of walking at Carlton Camp.  It did not cost our parents anything, perhaps some organisation paid, I don’t know.  But we had a great time!

 In 1937 Carlton camp was certainly eventful!! On the 26th of September 113 boys set off to camp with 4 teachers. Two days later Jas. Charlton is brought back and admitted to isolation hospital. Seven boys were taken out to the camp and a further two sent home, one with tonsillitis. Paul Knox stabbed William Myers in the eye with a pencil!’ Can you imagine a trip where 113 children are accompanied by only 4 teachers? I wonder if any of the boys on the eventful 1937 trip are in the Carlton Camp photos which were taken sometime in the 1930s.

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