which consists of the villages of Crich, Fritchley and Whatstandwell

The Briars Youth Centre

Joan E. Wragg

Taken from the WEA booklet written to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 1977.

photo of the Briars

THIS centre which stands in pleasant surroundings just off "The Common" was officially opened as a Youth Residential Training Centre in April 1970 on behalf of the Nottinghamshire Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, by Mr. Edward Short M.P. – then Secretary of State for Education and Science.

Many parties of young people from various parts of the country enjoy their visits to Crich, each usually lasting for a week, with full programmes of indoor and outdoor pursuits.

The centre is available for parties of any denomination or society. Week-end conferences, one day schools, social occasions etc. are catered for at "The Briars" by the priest at present in charge of the centre, Father Bell.

A word about the original establishment. It was built in 1907 as two semi-detached villas by Mr. John Smith of Belper for his two daughters and sons-in-law – Mr. and Mrs. George Davidson and Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Ludlow.

By 1917 Mr. and Mrs. Davidson had moved away to take up farming in another area and it was then that Mr. and Mrs. Ludlow decided to take over the whole building and set up a Guest House. From that time until 1957 many people enjoyed their visits to "The Briars", people from all walks of life and from all parts of the world. Mr. Ramsey Macdonald was a famous guest of Mr. and Mrs. Ludlow. The meals served at "The Briars" were of a strictly vegetarian diet. Mr. and Mrs. Ludlow were staunch Quakers, Mrs. Ludlow's grandfather, John Sargent, being the founder of the Society of Friends in Fritchley village.

On the retirement of Mr. and Mrs. Ludlow "The Briars" continued as a Guest House in similar manner with Mr. and Mrs. Heymans as proprietors, they too kept to the serving of vegetarian foods. Mr. and Mrs. Heymans moved into the Bakewell area in 1969 when "The Briars" became the Youth Centre in its present form.

It can be truly said that "The Briars" has given a welcome to a great number of people, young and not so young, and has introduced many to Crich village and a wider area of the county of Derbyshire.

Joan E. Wragg – a villager of Crich all her life. Researcher and lecturer in local history. She is secretary to several societies within the community and has been secretary to Crich Branch of the Workers Educational Association since its inauguration.

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