A potted history
The 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.
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.
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
re-condition completely the old barn which for many years had
been used as a cowshed and a general storage place, and was in
a terrible state of repair.
The barn had been thoroughly cleaned out and re-construction
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 local builder. Spring
1953 saw the work start again and a kitchen range was installed,
a gift from the builder who repaired the roof. A stone fireplace
was built in the other downstairs room and a floor was put in
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 barrows loads of rubbish which was dumped in holes and buried.
In May 1954 the site was officially opened by the Duke of Devonshire
who fittingly handed a key for the barn to Peter Watson's mother.