History of Culross House District HQ

How did it get the name Culross House

It was named after our benefactor, Colin Campbell Culross.

Who was Colin Campbell Culross?

Colin Campbell Culross was born  on 16th March 1897 in Hampstead, London, the son of James Culross, a printer and Isabella Adela Culross.  Living at 6 Eton Road.  James was born in Coupar Angus, Scotland and Isabella was born in Hamburg, Germany to British parents. They were married 6th June 1988 in Hamburg.

The family moved to Harrogate around 1900 and the 1901 Census shows them living at Swan House, York Road.  Colin is 4 years old and his father, James, is the General Manager of a printing company.  They also have a live in governess, cook and housemaid.

The 1911 Census shows the family (his mother is now known as Adela Isabella) living at “Cardean” Cornwall Road, Harrogate but Colin, aged 14, doesn’t appear on this record as he is shown as being a boarder at a private school, Sneaton Castle, Whitby.

During WW1 Colin was a 2nd Lieutenant 4th Battalion of the Royal Highlanders (Black Watch).  He served in France and was demobbed 10th February 1919.  He received the Victory Medal. His father died 21st September 1919 and is buried at Harlow Hill Cemetery.

The 1921 Census shows him living at 10 Studley Road, Harrogate with his mother and his 19 year old brother, Douglas.  He continued to live there until his death.  Colin is now Secretary to a Limited Liability Company Culross & Sproston Ltd., printers, bookbinders etc. of Ingrams Road, Holbeck Leeds.  Douglas is a Technical Expert for the same Company. Douglas died on 18th May 1929 and is buried at Harlow Hill Cemetery.  His mother died on 5th October 1937 at Harrogate General Hospital and she too is buried at Harlow Hill Cemetery.   Newspaper cuttings show that in the 1930’s he was the Hon. Secretary of Bilton Beagles.

During WW2 Colin was Senior Civil Defence Warden located at 53 Kings Road, Harrogate.  He enrolled in 1938 and was trained and awarded proficiency certificates in reporting, anti-gas and unexploded bombs.  In a supplement to the London Gazette he is granted commission as a 2nd Lt in the Territorial Army (York West Riding Comm) on 25th November 1942 for service with the Army Cadet Force.

According to the Harrogate Scout Council Minutes dated 11th September 1956 Colin Culross had been suggested as Secretary to the Executive.  “Mr Cass (DC) and Dr Payne had approached him.  They were impressed by him and he had been persuaded to agree to nomination.  Mr Bartrop reported on Mr Culross’s excellent character and personality”.  It was proposed, seconded and unanimously carried and he held the post until 1965 when he was appointed as Joint Secretary with Mr Halliday.

At the AGM in 1966 he was appointed as Warrants Secretary (now known as Appointments Secretary) and he held this role until his death on 27th December 1973.  He was awarded the Chief Scouts Commendation on 20th July 1965.

Under the terms of his will dated 9th March 1967 Colin Culross, retired Master Printer, bequeathed to Harrogate and Nidderdale District Scout Council a half share of his residuary estate, the other half going to the National Trust of Scotland.  In addition, he had taken out a Policy with Guardian Assurance Company for £6000 to be payable to the Scout Council.  The inheritance also consisted of a portfolio of shares and cash.  The Will expressed a wish that the bequest be used to establish a District Headquarters.

The Insurance money was used to purchase a Ford Transit Crew Bus which was freely available to Groups in the District for a few years.  The money was invested and the dividends received helped to finance the District over the years.

Other Notes

A printing company, Radclyffe Culross & Sproston Ltd, 6-7 Glebe Road, Dalston, London E8 4BD is still active and trading.

The Daily Record reported on 11th November 2013 that “Culross the Printers, a Coupar Angus family printing business which can trace its history back nearly 180 years, has closed its doors with the loss of around a dozen jobs.  Culross was founded by William Culross in 1835.”

Colin’s father, James, was the 5th of 10 children born to William and Isabella Culross.

Facts leading to the purchase of Culross House

In March 1961 Colin Culross was a member of a sub-committee formed to look into a proposal to provide a District Headquarters.  Meetings had usually been held at the homes of various executive members.  In the late 1960’s District meetings were held at Wheatlands School where Don Burden was the caretaker.  He was also a District Scout Leader.  

The initial plan, when the final settlement became known, was for the establishment of a District campsite close to Harrogate on which a permanent building would be erected to serve as a District Headquarters.  In the interim a suite of offices was leased for three years at 1 Station Parade, Harrogate from October 1976 – 1979.  

The campsite plan was finally abandoned in January 1979 because land prices were too high – we required about 12 acres and also satisfactory property was not available.  

In February 1979 the Development Committee were asked to find suitable premises for purchase as a permanent HQ with the proviso that it would be ready by October 1979 when the lease at Station Parade would be terminated.  The property found was in Omega Street and the final purchase was made in July 1979.  The Scout Association accepted trusteeship.

In August 1979 the Executive appointed a House Sub-committee and Designer who were invited to submit drawings for alteration and extension.  By September 1979 Culrosss House was operative and furniture was removed from Station Parade.

Planning consent was granted in November 1979 for refurbishment and extension and during the next two months work was carried out on the first floor on a voluntary basis by local scouters.

In June 1980 Plans, details, schedule of works was sent to contractors for estimates.  Building Regulations approval was received.  Four firms either didn’t reply or said they were too busy.  Batchelors Builders Ltd (Harrogate) quoted £23,000 + VAT.  Edmondson Bros (Bedale) £18,080 inc VAT.  Edmunson Bros were awarded the contract and work commenced in October 1980 and with the agreement of the builders a programme of interior work was completed by self- help within the District.  Over 100 Scouters, Scouts, Venture Scouts and administrators worked in varying degrees to complete the improvements concurrently with the builders.  The overall building and renovation work was completed in 1981 with the building continuing to be used for meetings throughout.  The Official Opening of Culross House took place on Saturday 24th October 1981 by The Most Honourable Marquis of Normanby, President of North Yorkshire Scout Council. 

History of the building

Harrogate Gasworks Company was formed in 1847 and houses were built by the Company in New Park, Harrogate.  The streets were named after the children of Board members.

One theory is that Omega Street got its name from “Omega” being the last letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega Street was the last street to be built.

Prior to being purchased as our District Headquarters it was owned by Harold Entwistle, French Polisher.  Rumour has it that it could have been a bakery before that.

Alterations & Additions - Past and Present

The ground floor consisted of the main hall, kitchen and toilets.  What is now the Quartermasters Store was added after purchase.  Apparently the high step into the store was to make it easier to load and unload equipment into vans and lorries.

The first floor had the District Commissioners Office at one end (now the District Scout Shop) and the remaining space was a meeting room with a mini coffee bar at the other end which was run by Scout Fellowship on Thursday evenings when the Leaders used to call in to purchase their badges and meet other Leaders.

The sale of uniforms was introduced downstairs before being brought upstairs into the coffee bar which was no longer operating.  Badges were sold at the other end of the room next to the DC’s office.  

After further alterations the shop was moved into the original DC’s office and partition walls were added to form a DC’s Office and Secretariat.

Thursday evenings were always a convivial time for Leaders to meet up and the District Team were always around to give advice to anyone.

In 2022 Upstairs renovations removed the DC’s office and the area enlarged to make an up to date Meeting with facilities for online meetings.

In 2023 the middle room was renovated to make a more user friendly room for more informal meetings.  Interview evenings for new Leaders take place in here.

The Downstairs room was newly decorated and IT equipment installed to form a large Training Room.

Over the past 5 years replacement windows and doors have also been installed which ensures the upkeep of the building is easier to manage.