From Middleton to Middleham: 60s’ school summer camps

In the 1960’s Mr. Holmes, one of the teachers at Middleton Church of England Junior School (St Mary’s, Town Street) organised a school summer camp week at Middleham in North Yorkshire.

The children went on a Friday and the parents came on a Sunday to join in games and football.

All the tents and marquees were pitched on a flat piece of ground down by the river. It was in a valley with the stream on one side and the campsite on the other.

There was also an area where you could swim a short distance away, I think it was called Black Dub or Cove.

We were all were given a tablet to gargle every morning because there were some sore throats going around.

One of the main events was a hike from the camp, up onto the moors to Flamstone Pin (413m) then back down to the main road and walk into Middleham village. That hike would qualify you as a Life Member of ‘The League of Mountain Kings’ and each person would get a certificate to prove it!

As well as the ruined castle to explore there was a blacksmiths shop at the end of the street where you could go and watch horseshoes being made.

No one was allowed to throw stones except when a game was set up by the teacher called Tip the Bucket / Sink the Bismarck where a half barrel was floated down the river and the idea was to throw stones into it and try and sink it. It provided great entertainment for all.

There were also walks and visits to the local Wensleydale cheese factory (nobody wanted to go because it smelt so horrible) and to Jervaulx Abbey.

When the parents came (on the Sunday) there would be a football match and the claim to fame was that John Charles actually played in one of these football matches (because his son Terry was one of the pupils).

Sometimes parents had to take their children home because they were homesick – for some it was their first time away from home

It was all good fun and most really enjoyed it and many have fond memories of school camp.

Everyone mucked in: there was a pile of margarine and sliced white bread, everybody helped themselves; sitting round the camp fire singing songs; drinking soup from a tin cup; scrambled eggs and stirring the baked beans; fetching the milk from the farm that was still warm; getting washed in the freezing cold water from the river; a metal bucket in the tent if you needed a wee and climbing Flamstone Pin.

Happy memories.


This post was written by Julian Stevens and first appeared on the Middleton Life website at Reproduced by kind permission.

Photo credits: Middleton Life


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