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28 October 2014

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A home from home?
Ice lollies and rock
Rock and lollies - yum, yum
A Leeds institution will celebrate its centenary in 2004.

The children's holiday camp at Silverdale has given generations of Loiners a first glimpse of the sea.
City Life

Silverdale Holiday Camp

Leeds City Council

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The camp is organised by a private charity. It receives grants from Leeds City Council but also depends on personal donations.

Leeds author Keith Waterhouse spent a holiday at Silverdale. He writes about the experience in his autobiography City Lights.

Leeds Children's Holiday Camp, 6-8 York Place, Leeds, LS1
0113 245 4281

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For 100 years, a private charity has been taking deprived children in Leeds on annual trips to the seaside, it is now planning a very special reunion to celebrate its centenary.

cameraPhotogallery of the camp in the 1960s

Writing home
Unknown girl writing home around 1964

The Leeds Children's Holiday Camp still takes about 250 children a year on holiday to Silverdale, near Morecambe Bay.

Christine Pinkney first went to the camp 50 years ago. Speaking on BBC Radio Leeds she described Silverdale as "gorgeous".

"I was about eight years old and I remember the trips went from Great George Street.

" When we got there we went out on long walks. On Sundays we all got an apple.

"It is something I will never ever forget."

The children from Leeds originally slept 40 to a dormitory although the sleeping arrangements have now been modernised.

Holidays in 2004 will be for children aged 7 to 11 years old and run during March to August.

Meanwhile the organisers of the charity are hoping that people who enjoyed a trip to Silverdale will get back in touch.

It is hoped that two or three reunion weekends - dependent on demand - will be planned for former holidaymakers at the camp in 2004.

Do you remember holidays at Silverdale? Do you recognise any of the children in the pictures?

E-mail us at with your memories.

I was a domestic at the camp in 1993 and was there for a few years .When they had there open days then I was asked to organise a wrestling show for them I had a mate who did wrestling I asked him if he could do it for the camp and me he said yes .I finished work on the Saturday at 5pm and went off to blackpool to pick up the ring ready for the open day the next day got into work early and put up the ring - I later got a phonecall to say _ had to do the MC's job as well has the ref's job and I gladly did it and enjoyed it more than the kids did . Good job everybody knew me, wrestlers too... I've had plenty of happy times there with the kids .while I was working there. I also remember an RAF helicopter coming to rescue some stranded people who were stuck on the rocks /cliffs just behind the camp the kids were on the beach at the same time but they were all ok it must have been quite an experience for them all . My parents are on the committee now and have been for a good few yers. I was near the camp this past few weeks, I can still hear the kids singing the camp song now. I think I've still got my Leeds Children's Holiday Camp t-shirt upstairs in a cupboard somewere. I'll have to dig it out and wear it. The kids used to call me Mario - I wonder how many kids remember me from 1993 to 1997? Best wishes.

After the palpitations, nightmares and sweating had stopped I gave some thought to those days in the 60's. Nearly everyone I know in Seacroft went to Silverdale during the 60's. I too went to George Street and donned the oversized clothing and after a tearful farewell to my parents climbed aboard the vehicle from hell that bellowed clouds of smoke and coughed and spluttered better than Chitty Chitty bang Bang. What a joyous ride through country lanes listening to the birds sing and 30 odd kids bellowing because it was the first time they had left home. On arrival it was time to hand over my 10 bob postal order, a kings ransom in them days, which was rationed out during the time I was there. Sharing a dormitory with 40 odd strange kids and getting undressed in my string vest and undies was quite daunting but being young I soon adapted. What an experience though. The beach down the clifftop, the out door swimming pool. I swear that even in the summer time they kept a couple of penguins in the arctic cold waters to keep the bugs and flies at bay. The daily walks were great and must have been the footprint for future "team building" courses. The first church visit on Sunday, compulsory, did not go too well. Our group talked as kids do and before our customary hot milk and 2 x biscuits for supper we had to write a letter of apology. The surprise the next Sunday was a thank you from the clergy and the best ice cream cone I have ever taken. After trying to run away once, where to I do not know, I settled down and the two weeks spent at Silverdale are etched on my mind for ever. Fond memories of people met from other areas, the outings, the loneliness of being away from home and family will always be remembered. It is a topic of conversation that always gets a buzz going when ever Silverdale is mentioned over a pint in my local. Given the choice I would probably not have chosen to go to Silverdale but having been it is an experience that I would not have missed. Well done and good luck to Silverdale in its 100th year celebration.
Granville Pugh

My 2 week holiday at Silverdale in the late 70s were the best times of my life, my younger brother hated it! The coach trip from Leeds to the camp seemed to take forever. I always remember there was always one or two children who hated it and seemed to cry most of the holiday or made a verbal attempt to run away. But the majority had a whale of a time! When you arrived you handed in your own clothes and were given some knee length shorts and tee shirts including vests and underpants! We mainly played in the grounds of the camp which was an adventure in its self as you were more or less given free reign unless you were told by 'Matron' or 'sir' that it was out of bounds. I used to be fascinated with Morecambe Bay and spent some considerable time watching the sea and the sunsets. There were some trips by foot to the Pepperpot and Arnside Knot which were the best. I remember that when it rained you could play table tennis and watch old movies like The Three Stooges in the hall. I was at Silverdale when Prince Charles married Diana and had to watch the wedding from start to end, no good when you have a made a hide out in the woods and wanted to play at 'Armies', with your new found friends. The Mayor of Leeds, (with guests), also made his annual visit when I was there and we had to put on a little show for them and I remember I sang a solo called 'The Mermaid'. When you were inside the camp you had to take off your shoes and wander around in your socked feet, which was fantastic when you are young as you don't walk anywhere you tended to slide! I recently went back to Silverdale after 27 years and apart from slight changes it still looked the same and brings some very fond memories back. The only major difference was the beach. The sea has eroded most of the half mile 'Grass' beach and all the sheep have disappeared, which was very sad. I suppose that you would considered this natural progression. I hope that children who go to LCHC today have fond memories when they get older as I do.
- Kevin Denyer

I went to Silverdale three times from 1971 to 1975. My sister went a fourth time in 1977. I was too old then. I remember that for myself and my sister it was the first time we saw a cow .We were brought up in Gipton, an inner city estate. They seemed so large. We went looking for crabs on the beach, there where sheep grazing there. We took this to be normal. It was not until I went to Scarborough a couple of years later with school, that we realised it was not. Only thing I did not like it that there was two dormitries, one was for children who peed the beds. So there was a lot of teasing.

Before my father’s death, we had always gone on family camping holidays. After he died, there was no money for holidays. I was at Silverdale in 1956. During that rainy fortnight, along with two other girls, I produced three pantomimes, which I suppose gave us something to do when we couldn’t go out to play or for walks. One co-pantomime director was Margaret Hezelgrave from my school, St Augustine's. I wish I could recall the other girl's name. Perhaps she'll read this and remember! The wonderful Mr and Mrs Farrar were in charge at the camp. They had a lot of experience of working with children, having previously been responsible for a children's home. They were very popular, particularly Mr Farrar, who taught me to swim. While researching for my book, the centenary book on Silverdale, I read Ernest Farrar’s superintendent’s report for my year. He mentioned that a group of girls had put on pantomimes and made their own costumes with crepe paper. I don't remember the crepe paper. I do remember that Mrs Farrar lent us her wedding dress for the final production, Sleeping Beauty. The title of my book comes from a boy named Frank who wrote a thank you letter to Mr Farrar. Frank, like me, had learnt to swim at the camp. It was fascinating to read the archived minutes, and one hundred years of annual reports for Now I am a Swimmer (ISBN 0 9525547 2 0, £10). As well as tracing the history of the camp, the book is packed with photographs, documents and personal reminiscences. It is available through Leeds book shops, libraries and from the LCHCA office, or direct from Pavan Press. Profits go to LCHCA.
Frances McNeil

My son and his band have just been rehearsing at Silverdale camp. Perhaps a slightly different use than most of your contributors remember but, rest assured, it is still very well maintained and cared for. When we arrived at 6 o'clock the tide was in and the sun just beginning to create golden highlights on the water. Picking him up at nine it was extremely dark, the lights of Grange looked quite exotic across the bay and we could see a few thousand million stars straight above us! Fortunately for us it is only a few miles from home.
Graham C. Agnew

Although fortune has ensured that I have been able to travel extensively throughout my adult life , as a child I had two holidays. One at Scarborough, run, I believe, by the Round Table organisation, and one at Silverdale. My memories of Silverdale have over the years somewhat faded but I remember the people who ran it to be kind and what recollections of the events which occurred whilst I was there are happy ones. I remember playing football out on the pitch back and across from the main building with a thin lad who pretended to be the goal keeper Ron Springet (some will know the name). I remember the swimming pool and the man - who must have been one half of the couple who ran it - with his standard joke. It ran along the lines of “the pool is very cold so when you go in I do not want you saying that you didn’t know it was as cold as that - because I am now telling you it is in fact as cold as that”. And indeed it was, thirty seconds in the pool and you lost the will to live. I remember an evening visit on a wet and windy night to see the illuminations (Morcambe not Blackpool) and I remember being a bit bemused that the sea around that area was often completely overwhelmed by the expanse of wet and windswept beach, stretching into the far distance. Thinking about it may only have been on the word of the adults that we knew sea actually existed around the estuary and Morecambe area at all. There was of course a view of the sea from the camp itself so we did know it was out there somewhere. Slightly sadly, I suppose, the recollections now are more of vague feelings and general awareness rather than detailed events. But remember it I do, and with affection, so its worth is beyond argument. It was by pure chance I came upon the web pages regarding Silverdale but now I realise it is still going I shall attempt to contribute to its upkeep whenever possible.
Steve Plant, Leicester (adopted home)

here is a happy land far far away ,where leeds poor children go for a holiday, silverdale, silverdale" that's the song we sang numerous times, god I remember it so well! I remember also the deafening silence, sic, as we got of the coach and there was a husband & wife in charge, firm but kind. The country rambles, seeing the pepperpot, the giants footprint, blackberry picking, I went twice to silverdale in the 60s. 1st visit I was about 9 years old, 2nd visit about 12 years old. I also remember on the second week we all got a postal order from home, some got 10 shillings, a few lucky ones got a bit more! and we'd all be taken down to the little post office to cash them in and get sweets etc, and sing songs on the way back, if the pool was clean enough we'd ask to go in before tea, oh yes! the smugglers cave, I loved exploring that, and finding a sheeps skeleton! I am intrigued by the thought of a reunion, but there's no way I will remember faces not after so long, would love the oppertunity to visit!
John Gibb

See more Silverdale memories >>

We have been unable to trace the copyright of the original photographs above despite the BBC making every effort to find out.

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