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The Big House and Camp

Jewish Communists gather for lectures, games and youthful frivolity at a Summer Camp in Swanage as captured in Lewis Rosenberg's unique film

Home movie 1930 9 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Screen Archive South East


1930s Swanage is the location for this Communist Summer Camp where the delegates, many of them Jewish, can be seen attending outdoor lectures in the grounds of Oldfeld School as well as dancing, playing tennis and assembling for lunch. After a group visit to Swanage Beach, we see Lewis Rosenberg's friends cycling, cavorting on the beach and enjoying a splash in the sea. After a paddle steamer excursion we see the delegates attending another open-air lecture.

Oldfeld School, in Swanage, was a progressive mixed boarding school dating from 1912. Its liberal traditions suggest that it was an ideal location for summer schools run by left-wing organisations and Lewis Rosenberg's film shows just such an event in progress. Following the onset of World War II, many of Oldfeld's pupils were evacuated to Canada and the school was commandeered by the Army. After the Army left the premises in 1948, Oldfeld School served as the boarding house for pupils from the nearby Swanage Grammar School. In 1974, following the closure of the Grammar School, Oldfield School also closed, though it was subsequently redeveloped and renamed as Harrow House International College.