scouts be prepared 1st Great Amwell Scout History    

History of Our Group

 

1941 to 1945

The Scout group was initially started during 1941 by the Reverend Thomas Gill Leech. He invited boys from the local community to become Sea Scouts and through his leadership soon had an enthusiastic following.

The group was registered with the local Scout Association in 1942, by the Reverend which he led until 1949. The Reverend affectionately known as Tommy, lived with his wife Joan (nee Harding) and son Christopher at Glebe House. This became the new Vicarage for St John the Baptist Church in Great Amwell, Hertfordshire 

Although it is still unknown why Tommy Leech opted for a Sea Scout Group, we do know that he liked all seafaring activities. He took a lot of pleasure in teaching Scouts all about seamanship, the traditional boson's pipes and sea shanties. He also specialised in telling camp fire yarns. Tommy was a keen scout from his earlier days and the family still have old photos of him at Gilwell as a younger man and also at the 5th World Jamboree in Holland (31-07-1937). 

Even though the Reverend ran the group, the Gilwell registration and census returns for 31 March 1943 show that the Group was not affiliated or sponsored by the Church. The document identifies that they owned a 10ft dinghy with stepped mast which was recorded as in working order. 

The group had 25 members, comprising of:

       
  Wolf Cubs Sea Scouts Scouters Total
Under 14 8 10   18
14 - 20   5 1 6
Over 20     1 1
Total 8 15 2 25

 

Some of the original 1941 Sea Scouts are listed below:

Alan Osborne, Alan Parker, Alan Reynolds, Brian Taylor, Bryan Bull, David Harradine, David Marques, Geoff Bunn, Gordon Sanders, John Atkins, John Ironside,  Kenneth Jennings, Kenneth Parker, Michael Bland, Michael Jennings, Michael Willbourne, Norman Gadd  (PL), Norman Vines, Peter Cottrell, Richard Sidey and Tony De Lozey  

The Troop originally met in the Vicar's room which was located just inside the field on the east side of the Church Rectory off Hillside Lane, Great Amwell. The room was made of wood and had a cast iron wood burning or coke stove in the middle of what was basically a single room; but may have had a small room on one end. At the north end, there was a small raised stage area, under which was stored scout equipment. 

Most boys cycled or walked to scout meetings, returning home on dark evenings in groups as wartime blackout restrictions applied. Petrol rationing and war time restrictions meant that there was very little vehicle traffic on the roads especially at night. 

The Sea Scouts regularly camped in Glebe fields (SG12 9SF) adjacent to the Vicar's room. Here they made full use of a spinney (a copse that shelters game) in the middle of the field for cooking and camp fires. Scouts preferred to use their white Bell tents when camping which were capable of sleeping 5 to 6 scouts each, although they sometimes used ridge tents.

Scouts regularly attended St. John's Church, Great Amwell, but not always as a uniformed group. Some Scouts were members of the Church choir and others would attend service after joining the Sunday morning cooked breakfast in the Vicar's Room.

The Troop was originally made up of two patrols, Bulldogs and Seagulls lead by patrol leaders Alan Reynolds and Michael Jennings   As the Troop expanded over the next few years a third patrol, Sea Scout 1940sKingfisher was added with John Ironside becoming the patrol leader. Throughout this period the troop had a healthy following with 20 or so Scouts regularly attending weekly meetings. 

Boys wore the traditional Sea Scout uniform which was a dark blue woollen jumper, shorts and a navy style hat. Their neckerchief for Great Amwell Sea Scouts was light blue.

Sea Scout BadgeOn the front of their dark blue jursey they had the Sea Scout badge.

Scouts within the village were not evacuated during the War period and meetings continued throughout. An army sergeant nicknamed 'Socks' who was posted to a local searchlight unit opposite to where Lower Road joins the A1170, took on the role of an assistant Scout leader in the troop. He is thought to have come from Southend and was a Scouter in peacetime. He became very involved with troop activities such as wide games and was extremely popular with the boys.

In 1943 and 1944, the Patrol Leaders and Seconds camped at Latchford Farm, Latchford, Standon, Ware (SG11 1QZ) for 4 days over the Easter Holidays.

During 1943, one of our Sea Scouts (Michael Jennings) attended a 1 week Seamanship course on the RRS Discovery moored at Temple Pier on the Thames embankment. The RRS Discovery was constructed specifically for Antarctic expedition and polar research and became a memorial to Captain Scott.  Between October 1937 and June 1954 it became the main Headquarters and training ship for the Sea Scouts. In 1944 Brain Bull, Geoff Bunn and Norman Gadd also completed their 1 week Seamanship course held on the RRS Discovery.

In August 1942 and 1943 Scouts cycled from Great Amwell to Much Hadham for their annual summer camp. Their personal gear and camping equipment was transported to the site in Mr Murphy’s furniture van.

Tony Burgess can remember being invited to join the Sea Scouts in mid to late 1944, by his close friends, Michael and Kenneth Jennings who were already keen members. Tony lived in Viaduct road, just by the entrance to the flower mill. At the time he was a 3rd Ware Scout, meeting in Amwell End, but made the transfer to Amwell Sea Scouts.

Over the next few years, Tony passed his Tenderfoot and Second Class (25 July 1945), both of which were signed off by “Skip” Leech (see below). He was also working towards his First Class and had already gained a number of proficiency badges. There was always an incentive within the Troop, to get as many badges as possible display on their scout jumpers. 

Record Card

As with Scouts of today, boys enjoyed outdoor activities, especially sleepovers and camping. Boys spent a lot of time, usually during weekends at Concrete Utilities Ltd (CU Phosco Lighting Ltd), founded and run by Major Charles Albert Marques, whose son David Marques was a member of the troop.  Major Marques fought in the 1914 -1918 war, and in 1939 turned over much of his land around the factory into training areas for the Home Guard with firing range included. The site also provided storage for a large number of military vehicles including a lot of ambulances. Major Marques lost an eye in the 1st World War and won a medal, saving the life of man who had “frozen” when he was about to throw a hand grenade.

Our Scouts were allowed to use the ambulances for weekend sleep over's and would then explore the land around the site. There was an extensive narrow gauge railway system, numerous gravel pit ponds and a large disused swimming pool. Concrete Utilities also had an excellent canteen, on the south side of the complex and close to the field where the ambulances were stored. They served great sausage sandwiches which always went down well with the Scouts.

John Atkins, who was Tony Burgess school friend (Hertford Grammar School) and a fellow Scout, lived close to the Concrete Utilities premises. His father was a nurseryman, and his house was on the Ware side of the main factory entrance, the end house of a block of semi-detached or block of four.  At the weekends, they used to play on the narrow gauge railway pushing the small trucks then jumping on. Tony clearly remembers the day when John fell off and cut his knee on a rusty rail. After putting his handkerchief over the cut, they both carried on playing. Later the wound turned septic and he was bedridden for a long while, living in the front garden in one of the army ambulance.

Tony Burgess can remember John Colville's father who was a local Doctor, dropping off a number of scouts in his smart "Foyle’s War" TV look-a-like car. It was a bit of a scary ride home, with blackouts, no street or car headlights allowed. Having just dropped off John Atkins half way along Lower road, the doctor was fast approaching the sharp bend and narrow humped bridge over the New River. Being on a road unfamiliar to the doctor and with scouts shouting directions from the back seats, his car nearly ended up in the river. [Kelly’s Directory 1937, Hertfordshire page 280, lists the doctor as: Jas. Robertson Colville, 63 High Street, Ware.]

Michael Jennings remembers a ‘Lifeboat' with cloth sail, although it couldn’t be used as there were no oars or rowlocks fitted. Funding at the time was very limited and remedial work to covert into a rowing boat was not possible. The group also had a 12ft wooden rowing dinghy, which could hold 3 persons e.g. skipper and 2 patrol leaders.  The Revd Thomas Leech, Michael Jennings, Alan Reynolds set out during their 1947 summer holidays, to row from Ware to Bishop’s Stortford along the River Lea and River Stort. Due to drought restrictions which prohibited the passage through the locks this took longer than expected. Having to carry their boat around each lock, meant that they got no further than the village of Roydon. There they spent two nights resting and camping near to the Glen Faba campsite (CM19 5EX) , before rowing back to Ware. 

Tony Burgess constructed his own kayak using plans purchased from the Scout Association. He covered the wooden frame with a second hand railway tarpaulin which was then painted with green tar paint (tar with linseed oil). He remembers spending many happy hours on the River Lea, which was especially fun at night calling out from under the Ware Bridge

During the summer of 1945 (Monday 13 August 1945 to Wednesday 22 August 1945), the Sea Scout Troop including Norman Vines, Michael Jennings, Alan Reynolds, Tony Burgess and John Ironside camped between Gillingham and Beccles in Suffolk. Two patrols went by train via Liverpool Street, loading all their gear into the Guards van. Reg Jennings who was Michael's father, also attended the camp as their Honorary Quarter Master. Tony remembers being transported with their kit to and from the railway station in an old cattle lorry. Although it had been hosed out, it still gave off a strong animal odour and everyone was pleased not to be travelling inside for any long distance.  The camp was on the Gillingham side of the River Waveney, about 100 yards up a slope from the river bank. They used a borrowed dingy to cross over the river and would frequently walk along the tow path into Beccles.

On the 15 August 1945 during their camp, "V J Day" was proclaimed when Japan surrendered. Scouts were invited to attend the end of war celebrations at Beccles.  Tony remembers missing the "V E Day" celebrations on 8 May 1945,  when Germany surrendered, because he was in bed with chickenpox. 

Some of the Scouts went for a day trip to Lowestoft (Monday 20 August 1945). The town's Claremont pier had been sectioned during the War for fear of invasion. Once danger had passed, the sections were rejoined using Bailey bridges. At the time of the visit, the pier was being used by the army as a training centre.  Because the Sea Scouts wore their full uniform including sailor's hats, they got through the pier turnstile free of charge as members of the armed forces even though most of them were only aged 15.

In 1945 two of our Sea Scouts were awarded their King’s Scout Badge , the most prestigious award of the time. This badge was awarded to scouts who prove themselves able and willing to server the King. Today the award is known as Queen Scout Award Badge.

1946 to 1959

The 1946 summer camp was once again at Beccles but this year extended to a fortnight. Scouts travelled by train via Liverpool Street on Wednesday 7 August 1946, returning Wednesday 21 August 1946. Tony Burgess was on a week's family holiday in Skegness, but was very keen to join the camp. His parents dropped him off on their homeward journey at Peterborough (or March) station on Saturday 10 August 1946 so that he could take the train via Norwich to Beccles. Tony was a keen train spotter, so travelling alone gave him a good opportunity to record the details of passing trains on his journey.

Camp activities including badge work, patrol challenges and water activities such as swimming across the river to gain points for their patrol. On one occasion Tony recalls getting cramp and having to be rescued by his fellow scouts. On Sunday mornings the Sea Scouts would attend the Church parade at Gillingham.

Tony Burgess can remember a day trip to Yarmouth or Lowestoft on Friday 16 August calling in at “Pop’s Kipper Snack Bar” on the sea front.  The café only served fresh kippers with bread and butter and a big mug of tea. He fondly remembers going back for more of the fantastic kippers.

Scouts regularly took part in District events and won their first two competitions in 1947. The first being the British Legion Shield awarded to the team who won the annual Camping Competition. This was soon followed by the Scout Trophy, an annual award for Scout Troops displaying all round achievements. The Wolf Cubs won their first event in 1949 taking the Oxley shield from their 3rd Ware colleagues.

In March 1948 the Assistant County Commissioner for Scouts, Dr L R Pears, presented the Reverend T. G. Leech Medal of Merrit(now the Group Scout Leader) and Mrs Hilda Warren, Great Amwell Cub Mistress and Assistant District Commissioner (Cubs) with their Medal of Merit for distinguished service to the Boy Scout Movement (7 years service).  (Photograph courtesy of Hertfordshire Mercury)

The following year the Reverend T. G. Leech left Great Amwell Church and moved to Hertingfordbury where Tommy Leech became the Rector of St. Mary's Church. This was to become his last Parish before the family moved to Canterbury to live with his sister in-law's (Kathleen Harding) family.

In 1951 the family move to Ramsgate where he became the Rector at Holy Trinity, East Cliff (1951 to 1961/2). He was also the Priest in Charge at St Pauls Church (1951 to 1957/8). St Pauls church had been closed in July 1940 along with other parish churches in the area while hostilities continued. Although the church remained undamaged throughout the War, the surrounding area was badly damaged in an air raid on 12th November 1940, After the War the Church remained closed and was eventually demolished in January 1959. John Ironside can also remember Tommy Leech  becoming a Chaplain of a local lightship (possibly the Channel F3 Lightvessel located in the middle of English Channel and east of Ramsgate). He accompanying him on an excursion to the lightvessle during a visit.

Soon after becomming the rector of Holy Trinity Church in Ramsgate he started up the Holy Trinity Sea Scouts [6th Ramsgate Sea Scout Group]. His son Christopher Thomas Gill Leech (1940-2012), was a Sea Scout and eventually became Patrol Leader of the Seagulls.

One of Tommy Leech's original Sea Scouts, Kenneth Jennings, worked alongside him in Ramsgate as Curate (1958 -1961), after finishing National Service and completing his Theological studies. Kenneth was later to become the Dean of Gloucester.  John Ironside also followed a similar path after finishing National Service, completing his Theological studies and taking up a career in the Church.

In September 1949,  the Commissioner for Sea Scouts, Lieutenant Commander Horace Taylor, G.C MBE  visited Great Amwell Sea Scouts for a group inspection. Joining him was Mr L. P Thompson-McCauSea Scout Inspectionsland, president of  Ware and District Local Scouts Association, and Captain W H Ricketts, a member of Great Amwell Sea Scouts’ Committee.

Click on picture to view other attendee names. (Photograph courtesy of Hertfordshire Mercury)

Lieutenant Commander William Horace Taylor: Born on 23rd October 1908, a former pupil of Manchester Grammar School was one of several Manchurians' who were awarded the George Cross. Taylor was a bomb disposal engineer and was given the award for work done in disposal of mines in September and October 1940. He had worked at Manchester Docks (now Salford Quays) and had joined the Admiralty at the outbreak of war in 1939. He suffered from many bomb blasts, but survived them all and spent his post-war years as a Travelling Commissioner for the Sea Scouts. From 1953 to 1973 he was Scouting Association's Field Commissioner for Southwest England, and became a property manager in Glasgow. He died on 16th January 1999 at the age of 90. He had also been awarded the MBE

Captain W H Ricketts attended the Prince of Wales Training School (Merchant Navy) and in the early years of his career served time on the SS Beltana and Arundel Castle.  Both ships were large and SS Beltana served as an Imperial and Australian troop transport during the 1914 -1918 war. Arundel Castle was requisitioned as troopships in WWII on world wide convoy routes, including one of the first convoys to get through the Mediterranean. Beltana was scrapped in 1933 and Arundel Castle scrapped in 1958. The Ricketts family served on the committee and were also involved with leading the Cubs in 1957. It may have been through Captain Ricketts naval connections that we owned a ship’s “Life Boat” originally mentioned by Michael Jennings.

The Sea Scout Leader photographed standing in the centre with cup and saucer is the Revd Edward C. Walker who took over from the Rev Tommy Leech as GSL. In later life he conducted the Service of Dedication at the opening of our new Wooden Scout HQ in 1979.

The Sea Scouts had a winning streak in the Camping Competition during the 1950s winning the British Legion Shield six times (1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957 and 1958).

After the War, the Sea Scouts frequently used the 12ft wooden rowing dinghy on the river Lea. An entry in the troop accounts shows a payment of £1 to the Hardmead lock keeper (September 1958) for passages through the various locks. The craft was stored in a boat-house at the back of Mr Reg Jenning's High Street printing establishment (no. 43/45) in Ware. Mr Reg Jennings and his sons (Michael and Kenneth) were members of Great Amwell Sea Scouts, until his two sons were call up to complete their compulsory 2 years National Service (1947-49 & 1950-51).

Historical records identify that some repairs were carried out on the boat–house in 1958, sufficient to see it through the winter with roof repairs being carried out in the following spring. In November 1958, a boat was sold to Hertford Sea Scouts, with proceeds being put towards funding for a new patrol tent.

Throughout 1957/ 58 the Group committee were actively engaged in looking for their own permanent Scout hut in and around Great Amwell. A number of sites were initially identified, one being at the lower end of the paddock below "Home Lodge" and "Walton Lodge". Another being a semi-derelict building known as the "Homestead", just behind "Philmer" cottage both in Amwell village. Also a plot of land near to the cricket field at St Margarets-bury. All locations were feasible once access and rights of way details had been overcome, but as with all building projects they would need a considerable amount of investment and resource to complete.

At this time the committee were very busy fundraising for their new Scouts hut venture, with regular 'Whist' drives and raffles. The Scouts and Cubs were also occupied in fundraising for new camp equipment and raised £16-9s-9d during one of their annual Bob-a-Job village tasks.

Scouts met on Monday with Cubs on Tuesday evenings to fall in line with their leader’s availability. The Cub pack was so short of leaders that they eventually ceased regular weekly meetings.   

The Troop suffered an unexpected setback in August 1959, when their hard pressed young Scout leader and assistant had to resign due to family and college commitments. At the time young leaders were in short supply with most ex-Scouts engaged in completing their compulsory two years National Service duties. In October, with no new leaders coming forward, the District Commissioner (Mr J McNaughten) had no alternative but to temporarily close the group. All remaining Scouts were transferred to other local Ware and District groups. The District Commissioner, in a letter to the Group Chairman said:

“I do so, like you, look forward to the day, when we can get Great Amwell going again”

1960 to 1980

It was not too long to wait and a few months later in 1960, the process of re-opening the group was once again started.

In the registration document submitted to Gilwell in December 1960, showed that the Groups name had been changed from "Great Amwell Sea Scouts" to "Great Amwell Scouts". The document also recorded that, 10 Wolf Cubs were already regularly meeting at the school in Great Amwell. Mr William Henry Berry was recorded as the Cub Master along with his wife Olive as his assistant both living in the local area. Their son David was of Wolf Cub age and having spoken to the family, was the main reason why William and Olive volunteered to help re-started the local group.

The group soon move to a small open plot of land on the corner of Gypsy Lane at the intersection with Amwell Hill (A1170). The site had no indoor facilities and therefore during the winter months or in bad weather, the Cub pack would meet indoors at the William and Olive's home nearby.  

Cub Scouts and Scouts wore the traditional land Scout uniform, Scoutwith a plain Scarlet neckerchief, chosen by William and Olive Berry when the group was re-opened.

Sometime during 1961 the group moved to a new location on the southern outskirts of Ware and met in a very small old timber hut. This hut was known to locals as the “Kenya Coffee House” with this name displayed on the front for many years.Kinjar Hut It was also referred to in documentation as the 'Kinjar’ hut, (my home) although its origins are uncertain.

The hut along with a large house and surrounding land in Postwood belonged to Captain Richardson and his family. They also owned a large estate in Kenya where coffee was grown. The hut was used to store and roast coffee beans, and distribute coffee and tea to the local area. As a toddler in the 1940s and early 1950s, Jean Glasscock can remember the smell of roasting coffee as her granny pushed her past the "Coffee Hut" on her afternoon walk. Jean had never tasted real coffee as the family only had Camp coffee and Chicory Essence at home, which was a liquid in a bottle.

The 'Kinjar’ hut continues to be well maintained to its 1950 / 60s style and is use to store our Scout equipment

William Berry (1917 to 24 May1989) was born at 'Red House' on Ware Road almost opposite the Kinjar hut. The house where William's father worked, was later demolished, but the base can still be seen alongside the New River close to where the swans and ducks congregate today.

A peppercorn rent was paid to the Captain Richardson, the local landowner for the use of the Kinjar hut. The hut was very basic with only one electric light bulb and a small cast Iron gas fire ring for heating during the winter period.

In 1963, William Berry re-instated the Scout Troop and became the Scout Master. His wife Olive was promoted to Cub Mistress. It is assumed that the ten original Wolf Cubs were reaching the upper age limit and needed to move onto Scouts.

In May 1963, records show that there were 12 Cubs and 6 Scouts regularly attending meetings.

In 1964, the Cubs were presented with the "Perowne" Cup as overall winners of the Cub sports competition. The cup was named after Canon C Perowne, who was associated with Standon Church in the 1950's and who had also been an ADC in Barnet & Potters Bar.

William and Olive took eight Scouts over to Guernsey in July 1966 for their summer camp. Activities included a visit to a local museum, pottery display and day excursions to Hern, and Sark by boat.

In 1966 / 67 Cub and Scout uniform throughout the UK were modernised, replacing the Scout shorts with long trousers and the introduction of a new colour scheme. A new award and badge system was also introduced (See Scout Uniform History)

In April 1967 there were discussion within the Scout troop, Group committee and District, as to the feasibility of returning Great Amwell Scouts to a Sea Scout group. The Scouts already had a small wooden sailing dingy and other suitable boats had been offered. At this time it is uncertain why this was later abandoned, but may have been due to our limited facilities and funding.

Throughout the early 60’s, funds had been very sparse and in 1968 a newly formed parents and friends committee was set up under the chairmanship of Mr Norman Bush. Mr Thomas Dakin a Scout parent and work colleague was approached to take over the roll of treasurer. Other members of the group included Mr & Mrs Portlock, Mr & Mrs Burton, Mr & Mrs Charles, Mrs Easter, Mrs Jan Bush and Mrs Dakin (see full list under the committee members section). The new enthusiastic committee organised many fund raising functions throughout the years, with the key object of expanding the group, providing more finances and procuring better facilities. Norman Bush led the committee for four years and without his personal intervention, forward planning and commitment would have surely led to the demise of our group.

Fund raising events such as Summer Fetes at Ware Priory, annual New Year's Eve Dances, Hoe Downs at Ware College, Fish and Chip Suppers, Jumble Sales and Christmas Fairs at the Ware Drill Hall, Raffles and Car Cleaning events, were all well attended and proved to be very successful. The late Captain Richardson always took a keen interest in these endeavours and often attended the social events with his wife.

As well as fundraising, the committee were actively looking for a larger plot of land to accommodate one of the numerous second hand buildings that they were being freely offered.  

Records show that in 1968, numbers attending weekly meeting had increased to 20 Cubs and 14 Scouts. Anthony Dakin (now a Leader) formed and led a new patrol (Bulldogs), after recruiting a number of his friends for his school. At the time the number of Scouts had to be restricted to two patrols (“Gannets” and “Bulldogs”) due to the small floor space within the "Kinjar" hut.

Boys were participating in sporting events, swimming gala's, raft races and numerous weekend camps. They also helped out at all fundraising events run by the Group.

Anthony Dakin can remember as a Scout, taking part in one of many St Georges day parades to St John the Baptist Church in Great Amwell. On one occasion, the leaders underestimated the time it would take to march the half mile along Madgeway’s and Catherley Lanes and arrived at the Church after the service had begun. As you can imagine the Vicar and parents were not too please and the Scouts were very embarrassed. Up until 2009 we had not repeated the exercise, but instead had participated in joint St Georges Day and Armistice Day services and parades in Ware. In 2009, after over 35 years the group once again returned to St John the Baptist Church for their Armistice Day Service and wreath laying ceremony. Hopefully this will now become an annual occurrence, being the village in which the Troop started its Scouting journey during 1941.

The troop also enter the annual River Lea Raft Race between Hertford lock and Ware bridge, started in the 1960’s and organised by Hertford and District Scouts. Teams of Scouts were positioned at changeover point’s downstream ready for their turn at the paddles.

In September 1970 we entered 3 rafts, with Kingfishers finishing in 9th place (68 min); Gannets 11th (80 min) and Seagulls 14th (115 min). There were 35 teams, made up of Local and County invited Scouts, Ventures and Range team. Stansted Abbotts [Penelope] and 1st Bengeo Rangers [Argo] rafts sank during the race and were withdrawn.

In September 1972 we entered two rafts and completed the gruelling 3 mile course, taking 12th and 15th place (approx 40 teams entered). In 1973 the event lapsed when permission to use the river wHertford to Ware Raft Race Sept 1968as withheld.

In January 1969, Norman Bush (chairman) made initial enquiries on behalf of the committee, to Captain Richardson (our landlord) suggesting improvements to the "Kinjar" Scout hut. The group were happy to fund and undertake this work, which would be beneficial to all. He also broached the subject of extending its present size or alternatively rebuilding to accommodate additional Scouts when funds became available. His letter and suggestions were met with a positive and favourable response.

William and Olive Berry who had run the two sections single-handed under extremely difficult conditions for nine years handed over the rains to a new leader team in 1969. William moved across to 2nd Ware Scouts where he completed a further 8 year as an Assistant Scout Leader. His final role was in the Scout Fellowship for two years before retiring from the Scout movement.

In the autumn of 1969, the Cubs were relocated to the youth wing at Ware College, which provided warmer and better amenities for the young and growing pack. They initially met between 10:00 and 11:30am on Saturday mornings from the 20th September, but in 1970 this was changed to Tuesday evenings from 7pm to 8 pm. The pack was led by Neville Bryan until 1972 when Jack Farthing took over the leadership. They remained at the College until the new wooden HQ was opened in 1979. The Scout troop also relocated while essential hut repairs were carried out. The committee wanted the Scouts to relocate permanently, until better facilities were found. Scouts being Scouts, they insisted on returning to their old "Kinjar" hut where they felt less confined and could enjoy traditional Scouting and camping activities unhindered.

Scouts regularly attended District competitions such as the 1971 Camping Competition at Wadesmill gaining 5th and 6th position (3rd and 4th if we exclude the Guides). One patrol even gained maximum points for cooking, much to the disbelief of their parents!

The group also entered numerous floats in Ware Week carnival procession using large flat top lorries kindly borrowed from WareCrete. For many years our float was decorated with a Scouting theme, normally containing a tent, imitation camp fire, washing line, and our sailing dingy, with Scouts kitted out in their smart uniform. The carnival procession formed up in the Ridgeway, next to the Kings Hill shops, then took a circular route along Kingsway, High Oak Rd, Tower Rd, Cromwell Rd, Bowling Rd and finally through the High street to the Priory. The carnival floats and bands normally took an hour to complete, but ensured that people of North Ware had ringside views. This became a regular event in the 70s thanks to the generosity of WareCrete and its drivers

In 1972, Vic Whichelow joined the team as Group Scout Leader and vigorously pursued the group’s original goals. Vic’s persistence, leadership and organisation skills were of great benefit, coming at a challenging time when team moral was beginning to waver.

During 1974 to 1976, the late Captain Richardson generously donated the northern portion of his land adjacent to the old Scout Hut. He later extended his donation giving land from the main road to Presdale Woods, for the sole use of Great Amwell Scouts. This enabled the Committee, with its improved financial resources to erect a perimeter fence enclosing the land after the transfer had been completed.

In February 1974 John Hovel became Scout leader having previously been an Assistant Scout Leader at 3rd Ware. At the time the large troop was being looked after by Anthony Dakin (ASL) and supported by Vic Whichelow (GSL) This was due to its permanent Scout leader (Norman Rand) being hospitalised after a road accident. Another ASL had also been hospitalising over the same time period.

John Hovel relentlessly organised weekly troop challenges, adventurous weekend away camp activities and summer camps over a period of 18+ years, and is currently our longest serving Scout Master. Anthony Dakin is currently the longest serving ASL / SL with 40 + year service.

Scouts again relocated for a short time, during the winter of 1974 to a bungalow in Walton road (No 21) and at the time owned by Ware College. Scouts soon became restless and restricted in what they could do and again voted to return to the "Kinjar" hut, in order to pursue real Scouting activities.

In September 1974 the group obtained a large timber framed building from Ware College which was being demolished in preparation, for its educational redevelopment. This unlike other possible hut contenders freely offered during the 60’s and 70's, met more favourably with the planning authorities Building our New HQ 1976for our new piece of land. Over the next few years, a small dedicated team of committee members, parents and leaders obtained planning permissions  (August 1975), and procured a contractor to lay a concrete base.  In their spare time they painstakingly reconstructed the wooden building (1976 - 1978), so that it could be continuously used as our new HQ for the following 30 year.    

In 1976 our Cubs won their first District Swimming gala proudly adding our groups name to the Samways Shield. Not to be outdone, the Scouts two years later won their first District Swimming gala and added our name on the Wickham’s Shield. Since then we have become frequent winners of the shield, in some cases winning on consecutive occasions.

In 1978 Great Amwell Scouts joined Ware and District Scout to welcome the Queen Mother to Ware, during the re-opening of Queen Mother visits Warethe Blue Coat yard. Our Troop was well represented with two of our Scouts lucky enough to have their photograph published in the local paper. (Two Scouts in foreground)

 

 

 

 

The new headquarters was officially opened on Sunday 16th September 1979 by Jim Turner (District Councillor for Hertfordshire East). A Service of Dedication was given by the Revd Edward C Walker, Vicar of Great Amwell. new hut 1979The Reverend Walker had fond memories of our group, having held the position of Group Scout Leader between 1949 and 1959. Captain and Mrs. Richardson were among a large number of guests responsible for successful completion of this project. A plaque was unveiled to commemorate this momentous event and remained on display in the main hall until the old HQ was demolished in 2007. It is hoped that one day the plaque will be re-install as a reminder and tribute to Captain Richardson's generous land donation and the hard work put in by all to achieve this ambitious goal.

1980 to 2000

During the 80s and 90s, the group continued to flourish under the strong leadership of Vic Whichelow (GSL), John Hovell (Scouts) and Tony Home (Cubs). The group also had the valuable support from its assistant leaders, a well establishes and enthusiastic committee and parents.

In November 1980, the Scout leaders introduced a patrol trophy (GSL's Trophy) which would be awarded to the best patrol each term. Points were awarded for weekly inspections, smart uniform, behaviour, patrol activities and attendance. The Trophy was first awarded to Eagles Patrol (David F, Paul S, Rickie M and Geoff H)  in January 1981.

In November 1980, a new monthly newsletter was launched called the “Great Amwell Scout Group Leader”. Co-edited by Neil Martin and Vic Whichelow, this replaced previous 1970s newsletters called "Amwell Scout Troop Bulletin", produce by Norman Rand in September 1970, and the "Leader" which had run for 2 years. A new edition called the “Gt Amwell Group News” was launched in December 1987. Scouts also produced their own limited edition of the “Coffee House News” (1986) and “The Amwell Informer” (90 / 91). In February 2005 a quarterly News letter was launched by the Group Scout leader, to keep parents informed of forthcoming events. This ran for two year with the final edition being produced in October 2007, copies of which can be found on this websites in the News page.

The Scout Troop had an exciting yearly program containing basic skills, adventure, competitions, weekend treks to Wales and Derbyshire and traditional summer camps in Scotland, Wales and Devon. In 1981, John Hovell and his wife successfully led a Scout expedition to Finland (7 to 26 August). This being the first time that the Scout Troop had ventured across the sea for many years. Among the places visited were the Arctic Circle, a Copper and Zink mine, the Russian border and a day out shooting rapids

The Cub pack continued to provide boys with basic Scouting skill, challenges and adventure. One of their memorable Cub Guard of Honourand privileged tasks during 1982 was to form a Guard of Honour at the wedding of Steve and Wendy Starbuck (both Assistant Cub Leaders).

In March 1983 and due to the increase in popularity, an additional Cub pack (Otters) was opened and run by Pam Albany, in an attempt to reduce expanding waiting lists. Our second pack (Tigers) ran for seven years, until a leader shortages forced it to close. The Otter pack again increased to full capacity, with lads on existing waiting list, being placed with other Groups within the District.

Scouts gained 9th place overall in the annual Green Beret Challenge in November 1987. As one of the top ten teams they automatically qualified for the Peak Assault in the following March 1988. In the group’s news letter for December 1987, a very proud Group Scout Leader made the following comment:

“To put it mildly I’m dead ‘Chuffed’ and so pleased for the Troop and Leaders”

The following year we achieved a similar placing in the Green Beret and once again qualified for the Peak Assault. (Photos of this occasion would be very much appreciated). The Green Beret team comprised of Toby Mollett, Simon Sadler and two other Scouts.

Also during this period, the troop successfully nominated and sponsored Scouts for two World Jamborees. Simon Sadler attended the 16th World Jamboree in 1988 and Darren Livermore the South Korea for the 17th World Jamboree (1991). A third Scout was chosen and sponsored to attend the 21st World Jamboree (2007) in the Chelmsford UK. In July/Aug 2019, Daniel will join the Hertfordshire contingent at the 24 World Jamboree in West Virgina, USA

Our first Beaver Colony was set up in 1989 following the official introduction of Beavers into the U.K in 1982. During the early 80’s, the group like others were very sceptical of its justification or benefits, and therefore resisted its early introduction. Those concerns and worries soon passed after its introduction and now fully appreciate it contribution towards the group’s successes. The colony was initially led by Ellie Perkins and later supported by Teresa Penny and Enid Burton when the colony reached full capacity and waiting lists dramatically increased.

In 1990 the census returns show that the group had 24 Beavers, 25 Cubs, 23 Scouts, 9 Leaders and 6 Instructors. The group continued to be led by John Budworth (GSL), John Hovell (SL), Tony Horms (CL) and Ellie Perkins (BL). All boys were enjoying their Scouting and achieved good results in competitions and badge work.

In the 90’s a group of girls attended a number of Scout meetings following the Scout Associations policy change in the late 1980’s. Interest dwindled at the time and wasn’t re-established until recent years. Since 2004, a number of female Scouts have regularly attended meetings and some invested into the group. Rebecca Johnson was our first girl Scout to be invested into our group in 2005.

In 1992, Geoff Cushing a Scout parent who had been helping out in the Troop for a few months took over as Scout leader .

In February 1996, Alfie Smith won the District badge competition for his unique design to celebrate the eightieth anniversary of Cub Scouts. This badge was worn by all Cub Scouts in the District. Scout Badge 80

The Cub pack under the leadership of Andy French (Arkela), continued to perform well in the Oxley Shield, Swimming Gala, Go-Karts, (which they have managed to win for the sixth year running 1998 to 2004).

During 1999, Anthony Dakin designed and launched the group’s first Great Amwell Scout Group website, providing much needed information for the Scout sections, parents and the wider community. This was the first scout group website in Ware and still has a good following, within the District, UK and World. In September 2007, a corporate website was launched to coincide with the opening of the new HQ, with the aims of enhancing our coverage and to portray a new corporate image.

The Scout association announced the new uniforms for the UK’s half a million Scouts on the 22nd February 2001. This coincided with Founder’s day and the 144th anniversary of Baden-Powell’s birth. Beaver Scouts started to wear a new turquoise sweatshirt, Cub Scouts a dark green sweatshirt, Scouts a teal green smart shirt and navy blue activity trousers, Explorer Scouts a beige shirt and navy blue activity trousers.  Adult Leaders change to a stone shirt and navy blue trousers, skirt or activity trousers. All sections wore the group's scarlet neckerchief.

In 2002, the Group Executive put the wheels in motion to obtain planning permission to improve and expand our headquarters. The proposals were to provide a modern and safe facility for the group and the wider local community that currently use the existing premises.  Planning permission was eventually granted in January 2004.

During 2004/5 the Group submitted applications to the National Lottery in respect of funding for a new HQ. Unfortunately these were all turned down, although a number of smaller local grants were forthcoming enabling us to continue with our ultimate Goal.

In 2005, Cubs and Scouts from both St Margaret’s and Great Amwell were call upon Guard of Honourto form a Guard of Honour at the wedding of Paul and Gail Stretch (nee Burton). Paul is a GSL at St Margaret’s and Gail an AGSL at Great Amwell.

Over the last few years, Beavers, Cub and Scouts have done extremely well in District competitions, consistently beating their rival groups (2nd and 3rd Ware) into lower positions in some events. This is a tribute to all current leaders, led by Stuart Baker (Beavers), Andy French (Cubs) and Rob Johnson (Scouts).

In 2007, thanks to the very generous and substantial donation from Cllr Nigel Copping, with additional donations from parents, local charities and companies our funding requirements for the initial build were reached. Building work started in July, following the demolition of our old building. Over the summer and autumn period, rapid progress was made with the structure and services completed in late December.

2007 was a busy time for the group with the new HQ build, the Scout Centenary camp at Woodhall Park and the 21st World Jamboree at Hylands Park, Chelmsford. Prior to the event, Anthony joined the Jamboree “build" team (JBT) setting up the site to accommodate 28,000 Scouts and 12,000 adult leaders from more than 150 countries. During the Jamboree (27 July to 8 August), Anthony was assigned to the Gilwell “Adventure” Off Site Team (OST) team helping to look after 4000 scouts transported from the main Jamboree site every day in 60+ buses.

Our new Headquarters was officially opened by Cllr Nigel Copping, on Sunday 13th January 2008. Local dignitaries were in attendance together with County and District Scout Leaders. The Opening Group Photobuilding was blessed by the Revd Anne Donaldson from St Andrews Church, Stanstead Abbots. The 1st Braughing Scout Band braved the cold to entertain arriving guests with a mixture of lively music.

Our future looks rosy, with a new "Wolves" Beaver colony started in 18th February 2008 and a new "Leopards" Cub Pack opened on 7th May 2008.

Because of the overwhelming success of our two Beaver colonies and Cub packs a second Scout Troop was quickly set up. The new ALVAR Troop opened it doors on the Monday 1st November 2010 in preparation to fully accommodate the large numbers of older cub expected in 2011 and 2012

In January 2012 and due to the falling numbers of older Cubs wishing to move up into both Troops, the two were amalgamate into one. Scouts who were unable to attend the Friday Troop due to other commitments, were offered places at the newly formed 3rd Ware Lynx Scout Troop. Hopefully this is a temporary measure until Cub numbers increase over the next few years and we can return to our two troops.

Perhaps one day we will have our own Explorer Scouts section, allowing 1st Great Amwell to cover for all age ranges. This will obviously depend on the number of surplus older Scouts requiring placement and our ability to attract additional qualified Explorer leader resource.

In 2012 Anthony set up and introduced the Online Scout Manager (OSM) system for recording contact information, attendance monitoring, weekly program information and badge work within the Troop. In the first 6 months, the system dramatically reduced the amount of admin work and effort needed to support our busy Scout Troop. In 2013 the OSM system was rolled out to all Beaver and Cub section and it has shown to be an important and easy to use administration tool. In 2013 Anthony also rolled out the My.SCOUT online system (add-on to OSM), so that Scout parents could see our weekly program and monitor their children’s badge progress.

 

Researched and written by Anthony Dakin ©

All work is Copyrighted and may not be reproduced in full or part without the authors written permission. 

Author note:  There is still a lot of further research to complete, which will be added in the next instalment. If you have any new or additional information or photographs relating to the group’s history, I would be pleased to hear from you.

v.1038 - Jan 2018

Acknowledgements:

I am particularly indebted to Norman Vines, Tony Burgess, Michael Jennings, Alan Reynolds, the Revd John Ironside and Christopher Thomas Gill Leech. All of which have shared their Sea Scouting experiences and photographs, so as to provide a better understanding of the group’s early history. They have also spent many hours of their free time reviewing the various drafts of this document, searching for additional information and providing prompt feedback and support throughout.

I would also like to thank Frank Brittain our County Archivist for firstly taking care of deposited documents and secondly for giving his time to assist me with my research project.

I also owe a huge thank you to John Hovel, Silvia Hovel, Andrew Whichelow, Jean Whichelow, Jan Bush, Hazel Dorrington, Jean Glasscock, Rob Johnson, Marian Waller, Andy French and my parents for their help. They have kindly provided important documents and photographs over the years, so as to build up a clear picture of our committee and group activities.

I also thank Patricia Styles from the Archives department at Gilwell Park for her help in reviewing the leader details and providing additional information relevant to our Group.