Saturday, March 19, 2016

Transforming Hollinwood Into Our Reality

We are really excited to bring you news regarding the progress we have made on securing a lease on the Hollin Wood site.

Since the announcement by the RHS about their plans to create RHS Garden Bridgewater from the lost historic grounds of Worsley New Hall, opening in 2019, members of the Middlewood Management Team and GMW Scout County have been working tirelessly with the landowners, Peel Land & Property, to secure a deal that will see Greater Manchester West Scouts continue to camp in the area local Worsley and Boothstown for the next 60 years and beyond.

Peel Land & Property have formally issued GMW County Scout Council with an intent to offer a lease for the Hollin Wood Site starting in February 2017.  The lease terms are, at this time, being discussed and agreed between solicitors representing GMW and PEEL and will be ready to sign imminently.  This represents significant progress, commitment and a great deal for us to establish a new and modern Scout Campsite at the heart of the County.

With Peel Land & Property formally issuing the intent to offer a lease and gearing up to submit planning applications to Salford City Council, we are now in the position to transition, what has largely been a feasibility and prospective study into a formal project to plan, finance and establish Hollin Wood as the next great scout campsite in a long-line of great scout campsites that GMW has been proud to and very capable of managing over many many years.

Outline layout designs of what Hollin Wood could look like are attached.  These are in no way final and are provided only as an illustration of the potential that Hollin Wood has to offer.  But hopefully, as you can see from the illustration, it’s a bold and ambitious plan that with the drive, skills and enthusiasm that exists within GMW, we are confident we will be able to realise the site’s full potential.  This will not happen overnight and securing financial backing/support/funding to realise our ambitions for such a project will be our biggest challenge.  However, we are driving hard to ensure that, in partnership with Peel, the required infrastructure will have been created to welcome our first canvas campers from the start of the camping season in 2017.

With February 2017 now a reality for Hollin Wood, we now must also focus on how we transition everything that is marvellous about Middlewood over to our new home.  A product of the 1950’s from a plea off the local Scout Association of the time to what was Bridgewater Estates asking for some land to set up a local campsite – Middlewood became synonymous with that traditional wooded campsite feel with which many reading this will remember and cherish as having spent some of the best (and wettest) times of our lives, under canvas on the many secluded campsites feeling like we were miles away from civilisation.  As a product of the 1950’s though much of the infrastructure at Middlewood is as old as the campsite as we know it – Cunliffe Lodge was an old WWII barracks hut for example and the wardens hut – a temporary building that had a life-span of 10-15 years has stood with many patches and ‘make doos’ for some 40 years maybe more.

In his time as Warden at Middlewood, Phil, his team and their predecessors before them have done a miraculous job of keeping the site viable on a shoe-string budget, a tremendous amount of good-will, hard graft and a strong sense of pride which for those who have ever volunteered or camped at Middlewood will know has fostered a long-lasting and resilient feeling of togetherness such that you always feel part of the Middlewood family whenever you are there.

Speaking with Phil Rigby, Middlewood Campsite Warden, he is unambiguous in his passion for Middlewood but he is also adamant in his belief that Hollin Wood can be even better.  “With the landowners of Middlewood, Peel Land & Property, now securing a deal with RHS and Salford City Council, there is no option to stay.  I firmly believe in and I am fully committed to working with Peel to complete the new lease, securing the future of GMW at our new home at Hollin Wood and ensuring that we perpetuate the true raw essence of Middlewood at what will become our new campsite.”

“2016 will now be the final camping season that we will offer at Middlewood, all major events in 2016 such as the Goodwood Weekender and the Beaver Birthday Carnival will continue as planned and we will continue to accept bookings for new events and camping right through to the 31st December.  But, as of the 1st January 2017 we will close to camping and start the transfer of assets that we want to take with us to the Hollin Wood site.”

“I am very keen to stress that 2016 will not be a year of winding down, if anything we as a campsite want to use 2016 as our year to celebrate and recognise everything that is great about Middlewood.  So very soon you will see commemorative events, reunion camps, welly walks around the site, bbq’s, pizza nights, firework displays and of course a huge closing ceremony all appearing in the calendar.  This along with planning what will need to be an swift exit from Middlewood to the new site in early 2017, I’m pretty sure 2016 will be one of our busiest years ever!”

2017 to some may feel a long way off yet but there’s a lot to do.  Such that, in our next communication after the meeting of the County Executive Committee in March we will share with you the names of the individuals who will have been appointed to lead PROJECT HOLLIN WOOD as a sub team of the County Exec.  And In April/May we will be able to share with you more details of how we will transition assets from Middlewood to Hollin Wood along with ways in which everyone can get involved in this really exciting new chapter in GMW’s history.

We appreciate that this news will raise questions that we do not necessarily have answers to at the moment.  However, if you do have a question you can email it to Greg Archer, Deputy County Commissioner Operations at and he will do his best to answer them.

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