The centre, near Buxton, was the first in the country to be opened by a local authority and is recognised as a leading influence in the development of outdoor education in the UK and across the world.
Since White Hall opened in 1951 more than a million people have taken part in residential, day and outreach courses enjoying rock climbing, caving, mountain biking and canoeing in the surrounding Peak District as well as using its onsite climbing wall, ropes course and zip wire facilities.
Our outdoor education service, which manages the centre, applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for help to capture its unique history and thanks to a £10,000 grant has now launched an appeal to collect memories for a new project ‘White Hall Outdoor Education Centre - A People’s History’.
We want to hear ‘My White Hall Story’ from the centre’s first visitors who will now be in their 80s and from all those visiting over the last seven decades to the present day.
Stories will be collected by letter, email and phone and also in person at an open day where ex-students will be invited to see how the centre works and share their memories.
A film crew of local students will be commissioned to produce their stories into a film which will premiere at a launch event for contributors before going on a tour of the county as part of a display at museums, libraries and other venues. It will also be used as an online educational resource to be shown in schools and will be archived in our Derbyshire Record Office.
Our Cabinet Member for Young People Councillor Alex Dale said:
“We’re delighted to receive this funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and want to thank them for recognising what an important role White Hall has played in shaping more than a million lives by enabling us to go ahead with this project to collect those stories.
“A visit to White Hall is often a young person’s first experience of being away from home and this can be a significant time to develop, grow, gain confidence and cement friendships that can last a lifetime.
“We’re looking forward to hearing collective experiences from over seven decades which will highlight changes in society and developments in equipment and clothing to provide an important historical record, but also show how the thrill of a first-time rock climb or canoe trip never change over time.”
Jonathan Platt, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East Midlands said:
“Thanks to National Lottery players, we are delighted to be able to help White Hall Education Centre celebrate their upcoming 70 year anniversary. By capturing the cherished memories of people who gained real life-changing experiences and built new friendships as young people, the story of the centre can be shared.”
White Hall provides residential accommodation for up to 80 people as well as day and outreach courses. It works mainly with Derbyshire schools but now also delivers corporate events and self-hire for large groups.
Councillor Dale added:
“White Hall has always moved with the times and has now expanded its facilities to welcome team-building days, group activities and corporate and private events which are proving extremely popular.
“This project is not only an excellent opportunity to record White Hall’s past but also to promote just how much it has to offer far beyond its original vision back in the 1950s and secure its future for yet another 70 years.”
Anyone who would like to share their memories can tell ‘My Whitehall Story’ by email, post or in person.