The name Cranham means the place of Cranes. There is evidence of Bronze Age habitation, and flint arrow heads have been found on the surrounding hills. Cranham first existed as a centre of village industry with several corn mills and potteries located there. The mills were situated at intervals down Painswick Brook and used the water for power, and included one situated at what is now the Scout Centre.
From the late eighteenth century, what is now the main building, and formerly the site of the mill, was owned by the Verrinder family and used as a small pottery. Veronica Verrinder who was born in 1791 married Robert Richins in 1811. One of Robert’s grandsons, Thomas Richin later took over the running of the pottery and produced drain pipes and, ‘all kinds of Garden Pots, and Fancy Terra Cotta for Painting’ as an advertisement of the day stated. The pottery was closed in 1907 and Thomas died in 1909. In 1922 the property was sold at auction to Mr James Herbert Edwards, whose aim was to use the building for the village. As a result of this a number of dances, entertainment evenings and clubs used the former pottery over the next twenty-five years.
In those early years of Scouting permission had been given by Major Sir John Birchall, who was County Commisisioner and the owner of the Buckholt Wood which overlooks the pottery, for Scouts to camp there. This opportunity was undertaken by many boys and their leaders until, in 1945, Mr Edwards gave not only the old pottery to Gloucestershire Scouts but also other land in the village including a field above the pottery, Daniels Grove, and two pieces of land on Cranham Common. Access was also given to a lake for swimming.
On 21st June 1947, Gloucestershire’s Scouting Centre was opened by Lord Rowallen, the Chief Scout, at a celebration which was attended by over 2000 Cubs, Scouts, Rover Scouts, leaders, and members of the Guide Association. From the very beginning of its’ life, the Centre had a resident warden (with one short exception) and the first was Harold Gray who was in post until 1948. A list of other wardens and managers of the centre is listed below.
Futher land directly behind the building was purchased in 1976, and sleeping accomodation attached to the main building was also built in the late 1970’s, which allowed the centre to be used by more people all year round.
In 1985, a new toilet block was built. This exists today and is situated by the main car park, although it has been significantly extended and refurbished since that time.
The Scout Centre has always endeavoured to be a close member of Cranham village community, and with the growth of the village, this has become more and more important. In 1995 the village post office was opened on site, and this was maintained for a number of years until its closure in 2008.
Over the last twenty-five years, Cranham Scout Centre has seen its most significant changes. These have included the refurbishment of the main room where the ceiling has been raised to the rafters. Work has also been completed on extending the kitchen, developing the toilet facilities and changing the sleeping accomodation from one large room to six smaller bunk rooms.
Further work has taken place on developing the activities on site, and building a toilet block in Daniels Grove.
Some of the land has now been sold off, leaving sixteen acres which surround the centre. The village cricket pitch is now situated on land that belonged to the centre. Knowledge of the lake in which Scouts were allowed to swim has been lost or forgotten.
The years since the employment of the current centre manager have seen the centre go from strength to strength, with the number of site users growing from one year to the next.
Improvements have been made across the centre, which have included improving existing facilities, and developing new ones. Following the reorganisation of the Cranham Management Committee in 2014, their aims are to continue to improve facilities, create new opportunitites, and to continue to grow the use of the centre into the future.
Please watch this space for other plans.
Wardens and Managers of the Centre
1947 – 1948 – Harold Gray
1948 – 1950 – Stan Raines
1954 – 1957 – Alan Whiteside (and his wife Connie)
1957 – 1960 – Mike Allfrey
1960 – 1963 – Bob Woolford (and his wife Vonnie)
1963 – 1985 – Jo Lewis (and his wife Ida). Jo and Ida are buried at St James the Great Church in Cranham.
1985 – 1993 – Geoff Broadis (and his wife Gill)
1993 – 2011 – Ken Clapton (and his wife Barbara)
2011 – 2016 – Pete Richardson
2016 – 2017 – Andy and Mairead Bruce
2017 – Current – Cal Williams & Ruth Rickman-Williams
If you can provide any further information on the history of Cranham Scout Centre, please do not hesitate to contact us.