The story so far...
Gradbach story started when Mr W Percival Williams,
the late President of the Buxton Scout Association died
in 1949 and left a legacy to form a nucleus of a fund
for the provision of a memorial to Peter Watson.
Peter was a local Scout and an
active member of the 1st Buxton Scout Group. At the
age of twelve Peter contracted a terminal illness that
lead to many
months of pain and suffering. Despite the illness Peter
showed great cheerfulness and courage,
and up to the time of his death shortly before his
13th Birthday, carried on with lessons and continued
to study Scouting as he lay in bed.
Peter was posthumously awarded,
by the Chief Scout, The Cornwell Badge which is the
Scout's Victoria Cross, 'For pre-eminently high character
and devotion to duty; his great courage and endurance
of pain and suffering through a long and severe illness'.
A picture and tribute to Peter Watson can be seen on
display in the Camp Providore.
The local Scout Committee decided that a camp site
and training ground would be the ideal memorial. They looked
for a suitable site and ultimately found that the Harpur and
Crewe North Staffordshire Estate was being sold in lots by
auction. Members of the Committee and some Scouters decided
that the Gradbach Old Hall Farm and land of 23 acres together
with a plantation of 25 acres would be ideal. Enquiries were
made and it was decided that about £800 would be required
to purchase the lot if there were no other bidders. Fortunately
there were no other bidders and Gradbach became the property
of the Buxton Scouts for £800.
Mr Williams bequeathed £90,
large firms, local tradesmen and private individuals were
circularised and subscriptions and gifts were generously donated.
The Mayor of Buxton, Councillor H.Hartley offered the proceeds
of The Mayoral Ball to the local scouts. This was followed
by the Mayor's personal appeal and over £200 was raised
before he left office.
At this time the farmhouse was lived
in by an elderly farmer, Mr Downs and his wife, so the scouts
and many helpers began to recondition completely the old barn
which for many years had been used as a cowshed and general
storage place for junk, and was in a terrible state of repair.
The barn had been thoroughly cleaned out
and reconstruction work started, when in November
1952, the roof was blown off in a whirlwind, ruining
months of hard work. To save the building it was
decided to have it be re-roofed by a Buxton builder
who was engaged to do the work. In Spring of 1953
the work started again and a kitchen range installed
by one of the scouters, a gift from the contractor
who repaired the roof. One of the scouters built
a stone fireplace in the other downstairs room
and a lay member put in a floor for an upstairs
room. A sink was installed and many other jobs
such as fitting new windows, gutters, pathways
etc were completed and slowly a dirty, derelict
place assumed a different appearance.
Whilst all this
was being done the boys made a camp fire arena,
erected a flag pole and cleared camp sites and
shifted hundreds of barrow loads of rubbish which
was dumped in holes and buried.
1954 the site was officially opened by the Duke
of Devonshire who fittingly handed a key of the
barn to Peter Watson's mother.