CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS 1912 - 2012
On May 26 2012 1st Wandsworth Scout Group is proudly celebrated a milestone birthday - its 100th! The celebrations took place at the Group's home in The Romany in Lyford Road with displays from the Beaver Colony, Cub Pack and the older Scouts and Explorers. A barbeque and hog roast took place and fun was high on the agenda with traditional fair games, the obligatory camp fire, a cake competition plus a band and disco to round things off. This merriment was in contrast to the Golden Jubilee Dinner Dance that was held at the Bedford Hotel in 1962 to celebrate the Group's 50th birthday. It was a formal dinner with tomato soup, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding on the menu, and no mention of any scouts being involved!
HOW IT ALL STARTED
Edward Gardiner started the Troop as the Wandsworth Common Patrol of the Incorporated Church Scout Patrols (a junior branch of the Church Lads Brigade) on 12 October 1912 with help from William “Bill” Holmes. It was affiliated to St Mary Magdalene’s Church. During the First World War, some of the boys acted as messengers at the 3rd London General Hospital (in the Royal Patriotic building which still exists in John Archer Way).
1ST WANDSWORTH IS BORN...
1st Wandsworth Scout Group emerged in 1916 when the troop transferred to the Baden-Powell Scout Association with the title 1st Wandsworth Common. It is recorded that in 1917 the first lady leader, Miss Denison, was appointed because all the men were in the armed forces. It was Miss Denison who then launched the 1st Wandsworth Cub Scout Pack in February 1920. The troop held the first of the traditional summer camps in the same year and these continued until 1992, except during the Second World War. In 1923 the Highfield School Troop was absorbed and the Rover Crew (founded by Baden-Powell for adolescents to learn principles of service was founded in 1926).
1927 UNTIL WW2
The Troop moved into the "club room" at the Church Institute in Wiseton Road in 1927 where it remained until the early 1960s, apart from a break during World War II. In 1929 the Group System was introduced. With Bill Holmes as Group Scoutmaster and Boss Wright as Scoutmaster - a long and successful partnership blossomed and remained unaltered until Bill retired in 1952, and Boss then became Group Scoutmaster until 1958.
The Second World War saw the number of boys depleted by evacuation, and the Rover Crew closed down as members joined the forces. As evacuees returned the numbers of scouts increased, some armed with National Service skills. Service continued in waste paper collection, as Police messengers and erecting Morrison shelters.
At one point the group had to move into a smaller room when the club room was commandeered for emergency stores.
INTO THE 60s
In 1952 Alan Littlechild became Scoutmaster. The following year the Rover Crew was re-opened. “The Dragons” Senior Scout Troop started was formed in 1957 for boys over 15 and remained with the Group until it combined with 1st Southfields to become the Dragon Venture Scout District Unit in 1970.
The Group was registered as an open Group (not sponsored by the Church) to regularise the open admissions policy that had existed for many years. Overseen by Alan Littlechild, negotiations on the lease on for the 'The Romany' started in 1962 and it was purchased from Romany Tennis Club in 1964. Although it had had two small pavilions and four tennis courts, the flourishing Group was eager to have new headquarters.
With little hope of raising thousands of pounds to buy a new HQ, fund raising started immediately, and building four years later in 1966. The work, apart from the shell of the building, was done by a team of parents, friends, leaders and older scouts. This included the foundations, drains, lining the building, lighting and heating and the cost on completion was £3,222 in total.
The grand opening on 21 May 1967 was conducted by John Thurman Esq OBE JP, a notable scout leader who served as Camp Chief from 1943 until 1969 and was awarded the Bronze Wolf Award in 1959 and the Silver Buffalo Award in 1962. He was a strong promoter of scout training and was conferred with his OBE in 1963 "for services to the Boy Scouts' Association". The grand opening, involving a couple of Beefeaters, was also attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of Wandsworth on 21 May 1967.