History of Blue Peris
Blue Peris was originally a family house owned by the Vaynol Estate. It became vacant at some time before the quarries closed in 1969.
Purchased at auction by the then Clerk to the Harpur Trust, Mr Richard Hutchins. (The Harpur Trust is based in Bedford and was founded in the last century to aid ‘education and the poor’ in Bedford). The Clerk was a keen cyclist and Youth Hosteller and he purchased Blue Peris in the very early ‘70s for £3000 of his own money (which he described as ‘a year’s salary’).
His intention was that the Harpur Trust would purchase and develop the place as an outdoor centre of some sort for their schools. The trustees were not that keen on the idea, but they agreed to purchase the building off him if he could persuade Bedford Borough Council (then an LEA) to develop and run it.
Bedford were not that interested at this point, but fortunately Luton, who already owned two residential centres, were, and the building was leased to them on a 99 year agreement.
Luton were involved in considerable renovation and adaptation of the building (the roof at the front leaked so that floors were rotted, one could walk in the front door and look up through the roof!). Before building work was finished county reorganisation created a new LEA - ‘Bedfordshire’ in April 1974, and the first courses came in the following September.
The first Warden was Peter Hood, who was succeeded in 1982 by Chris Jones and him by Oliver Knowles in 2001. The present centre manager, appointed in 2007, is Mark ‘Baggy’ Richards.
In 1990 an adjacent private house - White Peris - became vacant and the Harpur Trust purchased it under a similar agreement with Bedfordshire. White Peris became the Domestic Bursar’s accommodation (previously the current staff room block in BP), with self contained accommodation for two with a kitchen at the back (used for trainee instructors).
In 1999 White Peris became self catering accommodation after a short re-fit but in 2010 White Peris underwent further extensive renovations. White Peris can now accommodate 13 in very comfortable surroundings.
The first Trainee Instructor started in 1989, (replacing a very informal system of voluntary instructors) and this was increased to two posts in 1993. The Trainee or Assistant Instructor scheme has been running in various forms ever since, and has successfully launched many careers in the outdoor industry.
Mr Richard Hutchins passed away in 2012. However the centre is his legacy to the young people of Bedfordshire.