Welcome to Hebden Hey Scout Centre

History - Hebden Hey via Triangle

Let us tell you a story...

A Project of Halifax District Scout Council:
Hebden Hey Outdoor Activities Centre

Hostel Opened by Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell, May 22, 1976

This page has been reproduced from a brochure entitled:

Hebden Hey Via Triangle   by Jack Waring

The closing of a railway line brought Scouting to Hebden Hey. When the passenger service on the Rishworth Branch ceased, the wooden station building at Triangle was rented by Bolton Brow Rover Crew and later by Halifax Scout Association (as it then was). The later Charlie Shackleton (ADC Scouts) and Alan Yarker (now ACC Scouts) made themselves primarily responsible for upkeep, while hundreds of Scouts enjoyed themselves week by week. We used to stand on the platform about 10 O'clock in a morning to cheer the only train of the day clanking by. It was an ancient L & Y 0-3-0 pulling one truck.

At length even that traffic ceased and the single track was taken away. British Railways wanted to know if we would like to buy Triangle Station. The condition was that the bridge carrying the lane to Norland was included in the deal!

A meeting was convened for Triangle one Saturday afternoon to consider the offer, but Alan Yarker had heard about an attempt to sell Hebden Hey, and he proposed that enquiry should be made. Hebden Cottage which is the house at Hebden Hey, had for many years been a catering place and it was known as "Cosy Corner".

The Halifax LA did buy the estate and now, a decade or more later, we are bringing into use a fine purpose-designed hostel, an ideal base for all sorts of outdoor activities.

Hebden Hey, however, was only possible because of something called the Halifax Scout Post-War Development Fund.

Towards the end of World War II, the whole country was thinking about the future, and one small group of Halifax men thought about raising money for Scouting. The Scouts themselves did their bit under that great man Charlie Shackleton. There were no precise ideas, but by waiting the Hebden Hey scheme presented itself. It was possible to buy the estate and still have capital to guarantee the building of a new house.

Sadly, some of the members of the Post-War Development committee have not lived to see their hopes of something fine for young people realised.

It has, however, taken much more than the Post-War Development Fund, for without grant aid from local authority and the Department of Education and Science, the building scheme would have been impossible. Scout groups and others also made their contributions, while help also came from Halifax Rotary Club and the Halifax Branch of the B-P Scout Guild.

The New House has been built in a time of soaring costs, and the total could well have been three times the estimate, but for the remarkable effort of the Hebden Hey Service Team set up originally for the maintenance of the estate. The shell of the new house and basic interior joinery was done under contract, but nearly all interior fittings, including electrical work, much of the woodwork, plumbing, painting, etc., have been done voluntarily out of great loyalty to Scouting.

The first plan was to repair and modernise the old house, one part of which was literally on the verge of collapse. The house had proved a place of great enjoyment, and many felt that a modern building could not provide the same "atmosphere". Raymond Soothill of the Service Team used his professional skill in drawing up and costing an admirable scheme for repair and improvement, but it was clear that for the same price a new house could be built.

Ideas were supplied by two firms specialising in pre-fabrication, and the committee agonised over the matter, Godfrey Bairstow insisted that traditional building was the right way and was not more expensive. In the end the committee as a whole came round to his point of view.

John Kenyon, many years a Scouter and also an architect, drew plans for the building which has now taken such handsome shape. Look round it, study its excellent features, and ponder the selfless work which has gone into it.

Hebden Hey and its new house, even more the spirit which has made all possible, are what Halifax Scouting bequeaths to the future and to young people. All that a Pennine Park envisages in re-creation of body and soul is expressed in Hebden Hey. Yet Hebden Hey is but part of an ideal's fulfilment. Scouting greater still has always been the vision.

Hebden Hey Workforce (1976)

John Kenyon Architect
  Sugden Bros (Builders) Ltd, Ripponden
Building Contractors

Hebden Hey Service Team (special skills indicated)

Syd Greenwood (leader and committee chairman)
David Dewhirst
(mason and joiner)
Raymond Soothill (mason and joiner)
Godfrey Bairstow
Stuart Bairstow (plumber)
Brian Lockwood (electrician)
  John Feather (electrician)
  Keith Mitchell  
  Alan Mitchell  
  Nicky Broadbent  
  Chris Rhodes (electrician)
  David Bull  
  Andrew Barker  
  Nigel Robertshaw  
  Brian Aspinall  

All members of the team took on general work in addition to work involving special skills.

Ladies of the team undertook various duties including support duties like preparing meals were:

Miss Brenda Crossley  
  Mrs Doreen Dewhirst
  Mrs Eileen Soothill  
  Mrs Hazel Bairstow  
  Mrs June Lockwood  

Other members of the movement and supporters assisted from time to time in various ways, but especially towards completion of the project in painting and decorating.

The names prefixed above by an asterisk (*) indicate members of the Hebden Hey Committee which planned the project.
Other members of the planning committee were:
Charles W. Rouse (as chairman of the District Scout Council),
Jack Waring (as District Commissioner till 1974) and
Joe Bragg (DC from 1974).




opened by

Major General M.J.H.Walsh D.C. D.S.O.
Chief Scout
Wednesday 21st May 1986

In 'Scouting for Boys' there is a pen drawing by Baden-Powell of the word impossible and a Scout kicking away the 'im'.

If an uncommitted person had been taken to the Cosy-Corner Cafe twenty years ago and told you had vision of a wonderful outdoor centre with two purpose built hostels catering for the needs of some 60-70 . boys nestling in some 37 acres of beautiful countryside and valued in the region of £200,000 they would have said "impossible".

Towards the end of the war a small group of people had a dream, it was shadow and not very clear, as dreams are, but they knew it would need money so they started the Halifax Post-War Development Fund.

The prime mover in the formation of this fund was Charles Rouse who at that time was District Commissioner of Scouts for Halifax. With the cooperation of the Scouts under the guidance of Charlie Shackleton about £3000 was raised, a lot of money in those days. The dream was beginning to have more substance.

Scouting progressed and numbers increased and to encourage the outdoor skills which Baden-Powell placed so much emphasis on, various country places were rented, borrowed and used: Shibden Valley, Gibson Mill and for quite a while Triangle Station.

It was when the one train a day was finally withdrawn from service and the line taken up that British Rail offered to sell the station to the Scouts.

The dream was becoming clearer, a country headquarters was needed but was this the right one? Alan Yarker Scoutmaster of the Sixth Halifax who had rented headquarters at Gibson Mill had heard that the Cosy Corner Cafe at Hebden Hey was for sale. He, along with Charlie Shackleton, Brenda Crossley and others went to look at it and after much heart searching, deliberations and discussions, said 'let's buy it'.

That's when the dreaming stopped and the work began.

The cottage was put into some semblance of order and for many years was fully used but it was not very well built at the beginning of its life and it was getting decidedly older and more decrepit.

A plan was drawn up by Raymond Soothill of the Service team to repair and improve the cottage but when it was costed out it became apparent it would be no more expensive to build a new one.
Many ideas were put forward mainly concerned with cutting the costs. Godfrey Bairstow another stalwart of the service team insisted that there was only one type of building that would, not only be satisfactory and blend in with the area, but improve it - that was traditional.

On the 22nd May 1976 it was there: the dream realised and opened by Robert Lord Baden-Powell, grandson of the founder of Scouting.

In a few short years it was obvious that the horizons needed to be widened, that the demand by young people for the adventure, the challenge, the companionship and the peace that could be offered in this unique piece of countryside had to be recognised and accepted and a new lot of dreamers arrived.

A room was envisaged where youngsters here could still learn their Scouting skills and enjoy themselves even in the worst of our English weather, toilets and washing facilities for the Scouts and the public, dormitories and kitchens to cater for the overflow from the first hostel and provide finance for the upkeep.

It takes faith to move mountains but Field Support Squadron of the Territorials used heavy equipment and dynamite to remove the old cottage.

An expert was needed to sketch out and formalise the ideas. Bob Sugden. a former Scout, was such an expert. Bob got the project off the ground with some fine original drawings, then came his tragic death on the training ship Winston Churchill.

Mike Lawrence was a skilled architect and a Venture Scout Leader and he said 'yes' without any hesitation when asked if he would take the job on. He became a tower of strength as surveyor, architct, clerk of works and carry the can man.

Mitchell and Carter, the building contractors, were awarded the contract and work began, during the building Mr Carter died and the work continued under the direction of Mr Harold Mitchell.

Just as the roof was de to go on the money was nearly gone, the dream was turning into a nightmare, fifteen thousand pounds were needed.

Fifteen people were needed as guarantors for £1000 each and this was the most rewarding part of the operation. Members of the Management Committees, Service Team, former Scouts and Scouts parents were eager to help the dream on. Although it was a risk some could ill afford to take they willingly put their names forward. It isn't often our local authority hones in on dreams but this time they came up trumps with an interest free loan, the building was then completed. There was still the inside to be furbished.

No words that could be written would be enough to praise the work the Service Team has done under their leader

Syd Greenwood, his wife Brenda from the beginning has been responsible for the equipment of the kitchen, bedroom and dining facilities, she is also A.D.C Cubs.
Godfrey Bairstow has been responsible for all electrical work and is Booking Secretary and Treasurer.
Stuart Bairstow, carried out plumbing and auxilliary building work being responsible for the installation of the kitchen, toilets, showers and all water services. He also works on building projects inside and out. He is an A.D.C. Scouts.
John Feather D.C. has been responsible for all fire and safety work and is a great influence in the general organisation.
Raymond Soothill, Nigel Wade, Tony Heginbottom, Graham Yardley, George Bull, Stuart Hogson, Andrew Garside, Paul Farrar, Brian Lockwood,
most of the wives and many others have all given unstintingly of their time and services and are continuing to do so with Alan Yarker leading them.

It is no longer a dream but a reality, a heritage to pass on to the young people of the future. In a world of violence, unrest, hate and untidiness we can be offered peace, tranquility, friendship, adventure and a love and care for the countryside.

When the 'Tom Bell' Hostel is opened by the Chief Scout Major general Michael Walsh on May 21st in front of all the local dignitaries and County officials, each and everyone who has done anything toward this wonderful reality can look forward with pride and say 'I was there, I helped'.

The above was compiled and written by Alan Forsyth who at the time was Chairman of the District management Committee and was himself tireless in his objective of securing finance and support for the above and previous projects.



Additional Information

History of the Centre...

This section reproduces text from the two brochures used at the opening of the Hebden Hey hostel in 1976, and the Tom Bell hostel in 1986.

Hebden Hey Via Triangle

They Had a Dream