Help us fill in the gaps in Barnstondale’s history

Photo of Barnston, Dale House c1955, ref. B441015
With over a century of history at Barnstondale, the numbers of people who have visited the site must run into many, many thousands. Yet even with so many visitors over so many years there are gaps in our knowledge of the site before its current form of Barnstondale Centre took shape in the 1980′s.

We know we’re at a cruical time and that if we don’t act know then history could be lost forever and so we really need your help! We’re launching a new project to gather as much information about the history of Barnstondale from as many sources as possible and our very best source are the people who have visited the site in the past. Do you have memories of visiting the site? Perhaps some old photos? Even some stories told to you by older relatives? We’d love it if you could share them with us!

There’s more information about the past at Barnstondale below, but we also have a simple-to-complete online questionnaire to make sending us your memories even easier.

Do please spread the word about our history project, you never know what memories you might jog for someone else. A great way to do this is to download and print out our new leaflet about the project.

From past to present at Barnstondale

Photo of Barnston, Dale Camp c1960, ref. B441028

Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.

Today’s Barnstondale began life as Dale Farm; dating back to the early years of the last century it provided the local population with farm produce. However, its history is synonymous with local youth and their energy to improve themselves and their community.

The Centre’s wooded dale was always acknowledged as being a wonderful resource for local children to walk, camp and play. As well as this, local institutions regularly held a fete here for the community and its children.

During the war years, as attentions turned elsewhere, the 15 acre site lay neglected with its buildings and grounds left to deteriorate to the point of dilapidation. Eventually it was taken on by the Liverpool Union of Girls Clubs and Mixed Clubs in January 1948. With the help of volunteers from both sides of the Mersey it took two years of hard work and 12,000 man hours to return Dale Farm to its former glory. It then took a great deal of effort to convince the local authorities that the site should continue to provide an outlet for the constructive energies and enthusiasm of young people.

The newly named “Barnston Camp” set a new precedent and through local organisations began to offer disadvantaged young people from the region a respite away from inner city poverty and neglect. At the camp visitors were expected to channel their energies constructively through improvement of the camp and consequently themselves by means of hobbies, gardening, woodwork, decoration, roofing, painting, poster designing, hedging, ditching and feeding/tending livestock as well as being responsible for daily chores. This continued until the early eighties when a generous benefactor bought the land to prevent it going into private ownership and therefore leaving the community without an outlet for its youth to grow.

Renamed the Barnstondale Centre, as we now know it, the camps became a registered charity in 1988 and seeks to build on the good work that its predecessors carried out. As before, it continues to be a residential and activity centre which seeks to enrich the lives of young people.

Please help us to fill in the gaps in Barnstondale’s history.

Photo of Barnston, the Dining Hall, Dale House Camp c1955, ref. B441025

Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.

Photo of Barnston, Dale House Camp c1955, ref. B441017

Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.