HYMB was first opened in 1957 by the Herts Education Foundation, for the purpose of operating sailing and canoeing facilities for schools and groups from Hertfordshire and surrounding counties. This was part of a government scheme to get more young people to train for the merchant navy. The offices and stores were based in an old Victorian building that at one time had been a toy factory, and the lake, which was on the site of the old Cheshunt Wharf was mostly the remainder of gravel extraction from the Lee Valley basin. At the time it was known as Toyhall Lagoon.
Over the years it has developed providing more activities and teaching skills in boat building as an annex of the local college. The two lakes that the centre used were merged with a cut to make one lake. In 1987 a second cut formed a canoe slalom course.
By the early 1990′s, the buildings had become beyond economical repair, and too small to support the growing level of activity. Thus the plan to demolish and build a new centre was born.
1998 saw the opening of the new buildings. After 6 years of planning, consultation and fundraising, the new £1 million base was finished and in full operation.
As well as the new centre facilities, the base also built the first ever combined outdoor climbing wall and purpose designed caving complex, which now adds two more exciting activities to those already on offer.
The Lee Valley Youth Hostel was built next door, on the site of Cheshunt swimming pool, providing an indoor alternative to camping.
During the 2000 decade, much equipment was replaced and updated, and an adventure course built at various locations on the site. Herts County Council relocated their camping store to the centre in 2005. New equipment, including bell boats was added.
In 2008, the camping wing was extended to include improved facilities for campers.
HYMB can now accommodate up to 300 participants at any one time, whether school students, youth groups and clubs, HYMB members’ activities or corporate days for businesses. We offer a wide range of activities to groups and individuals including:
- Bell boating
- Raft building
- Stand up paddleboarding
- Problem-solving and adventure games
These activities could be a taster, educational, on-going skill development or team building sessions.
We also cater for individuals and groups with specials needs, educational, behavioural or physical disabilities. We have a waterside hoist and changing and toilet hoist to help those with physical disabilities to take part on the water.