The Harry Gill group photograph, above, was taken outside the renamed
Cromford Court (formerly Woodbank) in the mid 1930s. It shows
a group of "free week guests" with the founder of
the Friendship Holiday Association, Henry Charles White, in the
front row to the left of the sign. He was the grandfather of
Elizabeth Brooking, who has kindly provided these pictures. Every
year deserving individuals were given a free holiday at various
FHA centres, paid for out of the company profits.
Cromford Court was open throughout the year, not just in the holiday
seasons, and was also used as a conference centre. In
1936 the first annual conference of the National Ramblers' Association
was held at Cromford Court, with 50 delegates from all parts of
the country attending. In his presidential address Mr. T. Arthur
Leonard said that "it was
the express purpose of the association to protect the interests
of footpath lovers" and he criticised the landlords who were
doing their best to close paths and keep the public from the moorlands.
The next year followers of the American economist, Henry George,
attended a week-end conference and summer school at Cromford Court.
The photographer of this group of F.H.A. visitors is not known
Courses and conferences continued to be held at Cromford Court
in the post war era. For example, in 1949 Derbyshire Education
Committee's County Music Committee arranged for eighty amateur
musicians to have the chance to play in a full orchestra at a week-end
course. The group
photograph below, also by local photographer Harry Gill, was taken
at the Leicester Association of Schoolteachers conference which
was held over the weekend of 9th and 10th June 1946.
Photograph by Harry Gill
The third and fourth Gill photographs below date from the 1950s
and show some of the Christmas festivites. The third picture is
of the entrance hall, decorated for Christmas. Although it is difficult
to make out the lovely Art Nouveau decorated window in the front
door can be seen to the right of the Christmas tree. You could
look down into the hall from the octagon, a balcony that went
up to the second floor. The octagon was, according to Elizabeth
The final group photograph is of a Christmas fancy dress evening
and was taken is the same room where soldiers
were billeted during the Second World War.
There is more about Cromford Court (formerly Woodbank)