HISTORY

Lord Kitchener was commissioned in the Royal Engineers, served in the British Red Sea territories and became Commander-in-Chief of the army in Egypt 1892. After crushing the separatist Sudanese forces in the Battle of Omdurman he occupied the nearby city of Khartoum. He became a national hero and was ennobled in 1898.

When World War 1 broke out he reluctantly accepted an appointment to the cabinet as Secretary of State for War. His call for volunteers was answered by great numbers coming forward for a succession of 'new armies'.

He lost his life in 1916 when, on his way to Russia in the cruiser Hampshire, it was sunk west of the Orkneys. His high profile with the public and his untimely death brought about many projects as memorials to his life. The establishment of this Centre was one of these memorials, initiated by Rev. F. W. Emms as a holiday home for convalescent ex-servicemen of whom there were a great number in the latter stages of and immediately after the 1914-18 war.

Raising funds locally and in the great towns of the Midlands it became possible to purchase this fine residence and equip it for use. Ready by 1919 it was named in honour 'of the finest soldier Britain ever produced’.

There was a Grand Opening Ceremony on August 7th, 1919, commencing with a public meeting at the Hippodrome, Lowestoft. A number of speakers attended, the chief amongst them being General Sir Henry Horne - a personal friend of Lord Kitchener - representatives from all the services and from Lord Kitchener’s family, all of whom received a great reception from the old campaigners who formed the bulk of the gathering. Those present were then led by a band in procession to the Centre for the opening ceremony after which they were entertained to tea on the lawn, now the putting green.

Since that time the Centre has continued in much the same manner, providing a subsidised holiday to ex service men and women, funded by sponsorship from service charities and by donations from visiting guests and the people of Lowestoft.

The Centre is a registered charity with a direct descendant of Lord Kitchener as patron (Lady Emma Kitchener), local Trustees and Management Committee, with the day-to-day running of the building in the hands of a Manager.

By the end of 2017 it had become obvious that the Centre was running below capacity. To maintain cost effective rates we need to have most rooms occupied between April and October. With the decline in the numbers of ex-service personnel now that WW2 and National Service are well behind us we thought we could offer places to ex-emergency service personnel without infringing the concept that brought the Centre into being.

We ran the idea passed our service benefactors and our patron and they were happy with it. The trustees approached the Charity Commission seeking to expand the trust deed to include ex-emergency service personnel and after answering some probing questions they too agreed. Since 2018 ex-members of the emergency service and their spouses/widows have been included in those entitled to stay at the Centre.