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 Kitchener Garden.
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, the people of Lowestoft and many others. 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. You might find the timeline of 10 Kirkley Cliff of interest.