Reliving the many memories of Badminton Road Methodist Youth Centre

June 30 2013

DOZENS of people relived their teenage years at a celebration weekend at Badminton Road Methodist Youth Centre in Downend.

Maggie Curtis, left, with visitors at the event

DOZENS of people relived their teenage years at a celebration weekend at Badminton Road Methodist Youth Centre in Downend.

The youth provision closed at the end of March when local authority funding ceased. The purpose-built centre had served the young people of the area for 49 years and the people behind it wanted to mark its importance to the community.

The youth club began in the 1960s to meet the needs of teenagers in the then growing suburbs of Downend, Mangotsfield and Staple Hill.

It was developed over the years by stalwarts including Gordon Eagle, Laurie Garner and Chris Chart.

The centre also ran Fedw, a residential base in the Brecon Beacons where youngsters spent happy times taking part in activities such as climbing, canoeing, caving and abseiling.

Maggie Curtis, who was full-time youth worker at the centre from 1989 to 2001 and remained involved, was among those who organised the celebrations on June 15 and 16. She said more than 70 people visited on the Saturday and others attended a service on the Sunday.

“It was a lovely weekend, with such a warm atmosphere. People were so pleased to see each other and lots of links were remade. People met up with others they had not seen for a long time.” 

Visitors shared their memories of the youth centre. Some of those who attended the event had first come to Badminton Road as teenagers and had later returned as youth workers.

The oldest person to call in was 86-year-old Mr Peddle, from Keynsham, who was involved in the 1960s when youth work training required spending time in a variety of organisations. The youngest pair were the children of one of the past youth workers, Scott Farmer, who now works for the students’ union in Bristol.

Tom Hill, a Methodist training officer who received an OBE for his services to youth work, was there, as was Graeme Riley, chairman of Bromley Heath Parish Council and once a youth officer in Kingswood.

The service on the Sunday was an opportunity to highlight the work of the centre and the valuable contribution of the church congregation to the young people and families of Downend, Staple Hill and Mangotsfield.

“We wanted to honour their foresight and passion in giving the young people a purpose-built youth centre,” Mrs Curtis said.

“It was a wonderful service, led by the former minister Michael Pullan. Several of us shared our reminiscences of the Badminton Road Methodist Youth Centre and of Fedw.”