Maker Heights has a long and interesting history.
Many people from Plymouth remember going there as children for holidays at Maker Camp, as part of a scheme originally set up by Nancy Astor and her Virginia House Settlement in the 1920s for ‘deprived city children’.
Astor became the first woman to take a seat in the House of Commons on November 28, 1919. Although unable to introduce much official legislation during her career, she put her parliamentary muscle behind a number of social issues.
In 1925 she suggested that a committee investigate establishing a holiday camp for youngsters to boost their health and morale. With the help of Government grants and the release of Maker Barracks to the committee, Maker Camp was established in the summer of 1926.
The camp took hundreds of boys and girls at a time for a weekend up to a month. The experience gave them a chance to have a break from the towns and cities they lived in and enjoy the fresh air and nature of the Rame Peninsula.
Apart from a brief spell during World War II when it was recommissioned as a military base, the camp ran until the 1980s. It resulted in thousands of children having their first, and sometimes only childhood holiday at Maker.
More recently the site has hosted gigs, festivals and weddings. It’s also a place of interest to historians and heritage organisations due to its Napoleonic barracks, recent fort ruins and Nissen huts.
‘Maker Memories’ was established to preserve and examine peoples’ experiences of the site, and is now an award winning project. Volunteers have gathered oral histories from a number of people who’ve visited the site in one or more of its incarnations, and continue to draw attention to its importance as a cultural and historical treasure.
Check out their website to find images, oral histories, videos and profiles, and to contribute your own memories of this magical place!