A (very) Brief History of Parkwood
After several years of searching and negotiation Brighton Scout District was granted a 21-year lease on what is now the northern side of Parkwood (a total of 14.3 Acres) from the Crown Commissioners on 25th December 1952.
Early 1953 saw the first serious work on the site with groups of volunteers clearing parts of the site for camping. And in March 1953 a water supply from Newtimber Place was installed.
By November 1953 a volunteer group of Senior Scouts, Rover Scouts, and Leaders had completed a small breeze block hut – complete with an electricity supply! 17 individual campsites were allocated to Scout Groups who then cleared them for camping.
Parkwood was officially opened on Saturday 22nd May 1954 by the Mayor of Brighton.
In January 1955 the first full-time warden was appointed, and later that year an Entrance Gate, Postsa, and Stiles were presented by Brighton Rotary Club.
The late 1960’s and early 1960’s saw the Scout numbers booming with a total of over 2000 young people and leaders in Brighton. So much so, that new ‘covered accommodation’ was required for wet-weather shelter and training courses; completed in 1962 this was later named ‘The Tidy Cabin’. It was officially opened by the Mayor of Brighton on 15th September 1963.
Also in 1963 an improved chemical toilet accommodation was constructed and a Brighton corporation Tram Shelter purchased from the Council to house an Elsan toilet for ladies.
After discussions with the Crown Commissioners in 1972 it was agreed to lease or purchase further land, and Parkwood then covered 23 Acres – as it is today. Finance was then (as indeed it is today) a problem needing to be solved, so there was great delight when the President of Brighton Scouts, Mr Sid Tidy, purchased the entire 83 acres of Parkwood and gave Brighton Scouts the freehold of our 23 acres. We are forever indebted to Sid Tidy for his generosity; his name lives on in ‘The Tidy Cabin’ and his picture hangs in the Dining Room.
Later in 1972 work begun on the construction of a toilet block and sewage disposal system; the second stage commenced in 1973 to construct a Dining Room and Kitchen, and a Bunkhouse, with covered ways linking the buildings. The work was completed in 1974.
Work has continued ever since with the entrance road being built; ditches dug and streams widened; the Chapel and Camp Fire Circle constructed; storage and workshop buildings put in place; the Adventure Course built (by the Territorial Army); the Warden’s Accommodation replaced; the list goes on.
Parkwood continues to develop, albeit slowly (or as fast as funds will allow); the new ‘Washing-up Stations’ have been put in place to cater for the growing numbers who use Parkwood as the base for D of E training. An orienteering course has been established; CCTV installed to provide the necessary security; a new Toilet Block installed on the edge of the Newtimber site.
And whilst it may never be recorded as part of the Parkwood History, some things never change. The maintenance, care, cleaning, and management of Parkwood is still undertaken entirely by unpaid volunteers. And, as always, we struggle to find the funds we need to improve and maintain the site. We would like to install new Toilets and Showers for use by our guests, and are working hard to raise the necessary funds. Maintenance is costly, as to be expected from buildings in the country and exposed to the weather. But our inherited aims of providing a safe and secure area where young people can grow and learn and have fun, whilst preserving and maintaining the site for posterity, will remain as the core foundation of everything that Sid Tidy so generously supported.