Title ID 1645Collection ID200
TitleCamp Schools
Date[ca. 1948]
Genre/TypeProfessionalFilm/Video companyNon-fictionPromotional/Publicity
ThemePublic Services
KeywordsChildren Education Handicrafts Rural Areas Schools Urban Areas Youth
LocalTilford London
RegionalGreater London Surrey
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionBritish Films Ltd
CastMum is played by Hilda Fenemore
Format16mm Black & White Sound
Duration11 min. 22 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


This a part dramatised fiction, part non-fiction, film with commentary and voice-overs explores Sheephatch Camp School in Tilford near Farnham. It provides a record of the teenage schoolchildren taking advantage of the educational and boarding facilities on offer at the rural institution.


The films opens with a shot of three teenagers running along a street in an industrial town. Once inside his house, one of the children implores his mother to let him go to camp school. A long shot of the Houses of Parliament is followed by exterior shots of the buildings and facilities at Sheephatch Camp School. The indoor classrooms are empty - outdoors, the students examine history and geography in the countryside setting. In addition, the girls undertake lessons in domestic science whilst the boys develop their woodwork skills.

Sporting activities include football, netball and swimming - the children sustain their energy levels by eating healthy, nutritious food. The fresh food is grown on the school allotments by the Young Farmers' Club and reaches the dinner plates via a number of labour-saving devices including an automated bread and butter machine. An elderly man shovels coal into the boiler and a nurse supervises an all-but-empty sick bay. Leisure pursuits range from reading to ballroom dancing and to watching a film. Before retiring to their dormitories, the students wash in the communal bathrooms.
The film closes with a summary of the teaching and learning activities by the headmaster.


A still from 'Camp Schools' (ca.1950) - school children

Contextual information

Camp Schools (ca. 1950), which was most probably commissioned by Surrey County Council as a publicity tool, uses a combination of fictional narrative and actuality images to promote, and to provide information on, the facilities on offer at one of the county's camp schools. The film would have had a non-theatrical exhibition, being distributed to formal and informal educational bodies, institutions and societies.

The legislative history of Camp Schools, including Sheephatch Camp School, dates to May 1939 when Parliament passed The Camps Act. The Local Education Authorities, in conjunction with The National Camps Corporation in England and Wales (the Scottish Special Housing Association in Scotland) were allocated £1.2 million for constructing, maintaining and managing 50 camps in rural settings. In total 32 of the intended 50 camps were erected, each accommodating approximately 300 people. Although originally designed as camps for schools and holidaymakers, their role was dramatically redefined with the onset of war in 1939 when they were used as evacuation centres for some of the thousands of children who were moved out of urban areas. In the post-war era the camps became sites for an education experiment in living and learning. Typically, pupils nearing the leaving age of 15 were admitted to the camps for one term. Once there they were exposed to experiences intended to prepare them for post-school life, notably learning through observation and self-education. The camps also offered children from poorer, urban backgrounds a unique living experience in rural environments. Consequently, the health benefits of these environments were strongly promoted.

Sheephatch Camp School at Tilford was built in 1939 - its main buildings were designed by Thomas S. Tait of Sir John Burnet, Tait and Laine architects. During the war it housed evacuees from Ruckholt Road Central School in Leyton. In 1946 Surrey County Council leased the camp from The National Camps Corporation and maintained it as a co-educational boarding school until its closure in 1977. In 1984 the school was sold to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK.

Related resources


Howard, Ben. From Brownhill to Pitch Hill. The Wartime History of Two Catford Schools. Croydon: R. Young and Son Ltd, 2001

This booklet describes the life of child evacuees at Sayers Croft Camp in Surrey during the Second World War. A copy of the booklet is held on file at Screen Archive South East - it was kindly donated by The Sayers Croft War Memorials Preservation Fund.


The National Archives

The National Archives at Kew houses collections dating 1939-1962 which relate to the National Camps Corporation. The National Archives' database is searchable online.

Surrey History Centre

The Surrey History Centre (SHC) at Woking holds several collections relating to Sheephatch School including a published history and minute books of the Governors' meetings dating 1948-1977. The SHC collections catalogue is searchable online.


Camp Schools for Children* (1941)

This Pathé Gazette newsreel item looks at educational camps for evacuees in the Sussex countryside. The film can be accessed via the British Pathé Website.

Journal Articles

Fielden Hughes, G. "A Year of Delight." Surrey Life 1:8 October 1964

This article details life for the staff and students at Sheephatch Secondary School in the 1960s.