The Building’s History

Scouting roots

We believe that the current building was erected in the mid 1980’s and was initially the HQ of the 7th Hyde Scout Group; however following a reorganisation within the Scout District, this became 7/8th Hyde.

By 2002, numbers at the group had dropped to 6 Cubs & 6 Scouts with the Sections being run by the then Assistant District Commissioner (Cubs) and District Commissioner; unfortunately, it proved difficult to find adults prepared to run the group.

In the light of this, and the fact that these Leaders were also running the same sections at the 3rd Gee Cross Group, a decision was made to co-locate 7th/8th Hyde at 3rd Gee Cross where they would have an opportunity to experience a wider range of activities with a larger group of people; one of the Cubs involved in this move attended the 21st World Jamboree held in 2007.

Following the move, the only users of the building were the District Executive Team who met once a month and it was used for an occasional Scout training course. Briefly, following the National reorganisation of age ranges within Scouting and the creation of a District Explorer Scout unit, the building was used as the HQ of this Section. Unfortunately, their few numbers and the costs involved in running the building necessitated their move to 3rd Gee Cross.

Thus, by the “mid 2000’s”, the building was in only occasional use.

The Wargaming link

The Mailed Fist Miniature Wargaming Group has been established well over 30 years and, for the majority of its existence met at the Festival Theatre in Hyde. Occasionally, in latter years, the room where the club met was required for theatre practices, so rather than not meet, the club made use of the HQ of 3rd Gee Cross Scouts where a member of the club was an active Leader.

Unfortunately, following severe storm damage in January 2007, this building became unavailable so the Scouts’ District Chairman was approached to see whether a similar arrangement for occasional use of the then District Headquarters by the Wargames club could be made; this was successful.

Following a review of the finances & commitments of the Scout District, a decision was made to sell the building as it was seen as not only being surplus to requirements (both now and in the foreseeable future) but also a significant drain on the resources of the District.

The Committee of the Mailed Fist was approached to see whether the Club wished to place a bid for the building, but it was decided against, so a small group of the club’s members took it upon themselves to try to purchase the building to be used as backup for the Theatre and also to look towards having additional activities, generally bringing the building back to life as a Community Resource. They formed a company – East Manchester Historical Games Limited – and placed a bid which proved to be successful.

Now came the hard work, arranging for all of the legal formalities to be completed and take ownership which was finally completed on 27th March 2008 with fantastic assistance from Harold Stock & Co Solicitors in Mossley; then came the REALLY HARD WORK – refurbishing the building!

By now, the decision had been made to demolish the building at Gee Cross so we were able to remove a lot of useful shelving, notice boards & kitchen units to help with the refurbishment (and save a lot of money in the process!); in return, we agreed to store Gee Cross’s not inconsiderable amount of camping equipment free of charge.

Through the pages of Freecycle Tameside, we were able to help a local company – TK Components – with their waste material problem (they need to scrap lots of chipboard sheets received as packaging materials, we can use them for wall lining), however, with only a small ownership group, the refurbishment was going to take a long time… which then became more pressing following a decision by the Mailed Fist Club to relocate to the building.

Fortunately, one of the owners remembered that Tameside College had a Joinery Department so an approach was made to the College to discuss the possibility of the joinery students doing some of the work as part of their qualification; an additional benefit being that the completed work would remain in situ as an example of the work that the students could do.

Several meetings later, permission was obtained and a schedule of work agreed.

The students have now built an internal studding wall along the two main walls of the main hall (using wood supplied by Illingworth Ingham (Hyde) at an excellent price) which has transformed the inside of the building; we have also been able to insulate it by making use of scrap insulation material from another local company – McVeigh Insulations Ltd – again, further helping reduce landfill.

Not only have the students gained some valuable experience of working in a “real life” situation (with walls that are not square and dimensions that are never convenient!) they have also (taking into account our sourcing of free materials for the walls), helped us move many months forward on the refurbishment project.

The roof has also been insulated with more of the material from McVeigh’s transferred with the aid of yet another local company – Global Heatsave – who made one of their large vans available to us & the College have fitted panels to hide this.

The Scouts return

Following the demolition of the building at 3rd Gee Cross, the Explorer Unit moved to the HQ of the 4th Hyde Group, however, due to lack of equipment storage space, they asked whether they could return to their “old” HQ pending the rebuilding of the Gee Cross building to which we readily agreed.

Development continues

The building is now almost fully insulated and the ladies toilet has been converted into a combined disabled & ladies facility. Also finished is the refurbishment of the kitchen with some worktops generously donated by PJB Cabinets of Mossley. PJB also provided us with new kitchen units to fix under these tops at a very generous discount. They have also supplied us with what are to them scrap panels that we’ve been able to use to line some of the rooms & use as playing surfaces for wargaming.

We have also been lucky to secure the assistance from the Probation Service’s Community Payback Scheme who have not only painted both the exterior and interior of the building but also taken on maintenance of the grounds keeping the undergrowth well under control! Without their help, these are jobs that would still be waiting to be started! The efforts that the teams put in during the working parties at the building are tremendous & we are grateful to Carron & Del from the Probation Service for making this happen.

Finally, none of this work could happen without nuts, bolts, screws, washers, paintbrushes, fastenings, etc & all of these have been supplied, again at another generous discount, by another local company: Murpak Ltd

Moving forward

In the near future, the major refurbishment work will have been completed & the East Manchester Historical Games team will be able to look forward to opening the use of the building to a wider audience with midweek gaming sessions in addition to the Mailed Fist club meeting at weekends.

In addition, the building is currently used by the South Manchester Tactical Society for their meetings on the second Tuesday of each month.