Fringe Box



Scout Group Still Going Strong After 102 Years

Published on: 28 Feb, 2012
Updated on: 28 Feb, 2012

By David Rose

This Sunday, November 27, will see a parade service at 10.30am, at the United Reformed Church, Portsmouth Road, Guildford, by members of the St Nicolas 9th Guildford Group.

Members of the 9th Guildford Scout Group in about 1948.

Taking part will be current beavers, cubs and scouts, rainbows and brownies, with a special open invitation to all those who have been associated with 9th Guildford in the past.

The parade service will be a celebration of the group, past and present.

9th Guildford Scouts in about 1920.

On display will be the group’s historic stained-glass windows, originally from Centenary Hall in Chapel Street. These treasured windows have not been seen in public for some 30 years.

The 9th Guildford (Congregational) Scout group was formed in 1909. It was connected to Guildford’s Congregational Church that once stood on the corner of North Street and Leapale Road.

The scouts’ home was Centenary Hall, which acted as a little chapel to the local community around Chapel Street. A Loch Fyne restaurant currently occupies this building.

Another group shot of the scouts. This is one of the images that was rescued from the household tip at Slyfield some years ago.

An early log-book for the scout group exists. In neat handwriting, by a William H. Bateman, he notes the proceedings of the first meeting that was held to set up the group.

It begins: “Guildford ‘Congregational’ Scouts. The first meeting of the above was held in the lower lecture hall on Wednesday, September 8th, at 7.30pm, with the Rev Alec Cowe, presiding.

“Present: Mr C. V. Boughton, – the scoutmaster, Miss A Lacy, Mr W. H. Bateman, Mr G, J. Bateman, Mr J. C. Lacy, the assistant scoutmasters, – Messes J. Whaler, Mr F. Salsbury, and the secretary, Mrs W. Bateman.”

He also noted that that local outfitters, Messers Hardy of Guildford, would be able to supply “the major part of the uniform” for the boys, and that it was suggested a notice should be sent “to the school teachers on the boys’ side asking their kind co-operation in obtaining members, and that the scoutmaster should make a personal appeal at the school on the following Sunday”.

The school may well have been Holy Trinity, but why on a Sunday is not clear!

Off on a camping expedition perhaps?

William Bateman is listed in the 1913 edition of Kelly’s Directory of Surrey, living at a house called ‘St Mervyn’, South Hill, Guildford.

In the same directory there is a listing for a H. W.Bateman, as being the honorary secretary of the Young Men’s Christian Association (Congregational), North Street. I am sure this is the same person. He may also have been connected with the Bateman firm of opticians – a name that continues to this day.

The Lower Lecture Hall is noted as being where the first meeting was held to set up the group. This might have been in the town’s Borough Halls that were in North Street, or perhaps at the Congregational Church itself.

This photo appears to have been taken in the garden behind S. R. Jeffery’s shop in the High Street.

The 9th Guildford must have built up a sizable number of members. Some old photos, found dumped at the Guildford tip in Slyfield some years ago, show them on camping expeditions and doing other activities. Some of those, plus others from the archives of the St Nicolas 9th Guildford Group, are featured here.

Another prominent leader of the group in those early days was Harold Jeffrey.

It was his family who ran the sports and gun shop, S. R. Jeffery, at 134 High Street. The long garden at the back of the shop was also used by the scouts, as seen in some of these old photos.

They staged drama productions there and even helped to built an outdoor swimming pool!

Harold Jeffery was assistant scoutmaster at the outset of the group. When Mr Broughton stepped down as scoutmaster in 1912, Mr Jeffery took over. In fact, he held that position until three weeks before his death in 1970.

John Pettett then took over. Today, he is the group’s historian and has supplied much information for this article.

There is a tablet in Holy Trinity Church dedicated to 11 former members and leaders of 9th Guildford Scouts who fell in the First World War.

The first to lose his life was Pte G. Prewett, of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, who died in France on October 5, 1917. The last was Pte W. Prior of the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment, who died in France in October 1918.

In total, 83 former 9th Guildford scouts served in the forces in the Great War along with nine officers and scout leaders.

The tablet was first unveiled on October 26, 1919, at the Centenary Hall as part of the group’s 10th anniversary church parade. On October 12, 1991, it was unveiled again at a rededication service at Holy Trinity Church.

The three stained-glass windows in situ in Centenary Hall.

At one time, Centenary Hall featured three stained-glass windows directly related to the scout movement. Dyster & Smith of the Guildford Glass Works made these. Mr Dyster was a member of the Congregational Church. The original window was designed by Lillian Jeffery (wife of scout leader Harold). It was dedicated in 1930. All three have survived and are currently kept safe. Leaders of today’s St Nicolas 9th Guildford Group would love to see them re-installed at a suitable location.

This window was designed by E. H. Shepard, well known for his illustration of Winnie the Pooh.

The scout group moved from Centenary Hall to Portsmouth Road in 1971.

This window dates to 1959 and the 50th anniversary of the scout group.

The gates that once stood at the entrance to Centenary Hall are now at the entrance to the District Scout Shop in Nightingale Road.

In more recent times, the group merged with St Nicolas Scout Troop to became the St Nicolas 9th Guildford Group.

At one point, this combined group nearly closed, but today is happily flourishing once again. Beavers and cubs are full to capacity with long waiting lists and the scout group is growing apace again.

9th Guildford Scouts taking part in a carnival procession in 1949.
A picture of 9th Guildford Scouts from about the 1970s.

2 Responses to “Scout Group Still Going Strong After 102 Years”

  1. Anthony Bullen says:

    What an excellent article. This must have stirred memories for those who at sometime were scouts and guides in what I think was one of the greatest successes of the 20th Century.

    I was a cub and scout in the St Nicholas Group. One memory is the length of service given by adults. My brother Terry and our Father who enrolled in 1923 had the same Akela. She was a Miss Willan (born 1880 and died Akela aged 78) who lived in Bury Court. She gave us respect and we knew to give to her.

    The photo of the cubs in the lorry is another memory. Cubs as well scouts went to camp. Miss Willan camping in a small tent; the only concession for her being a campbed. Whitson week at Scotland’s farm being on top of the downs between East Clandon and Shere. Summer camp varied but in 1959 camp was at Piddletrenthide Dorset. As usual Wilkies? furniture lorry transported us. No problems with health and safety; just shake the tailgate to ensure it was fastened! Were we ever going to get onto the Hogs Back on a busy Saturday in August and the journey took five hours. Again the driver gave up his Saturday. Was it the same driver who went down on the other two Saturdays as the Scouts had their week as well.

    Guildford and District cubs played in a football league. Not a game every Saturday but all the games refereed by the same man. He did two games on a Sat afternoon at Stoke Park in all weathers. I recall his name was a Mr Strudwick and I think he cycled from Stoughton. He gave up his time for us boys something perhaps we didn’t appreciate at the time. Note also few parents attended,we made our way and the captain had the extra duty to bring the oranges!

    As I recall some of my fellow cubs and scouts lived at St Catherines and Artingdon. Do they recall those happy and carefree days?

  2. Carol Norris says:

    Delighted to see mention of Guildford Glass Works in this piece. This company became my father’s when his (informally) adoptive father, H.E. Smith died. The Guildford Glass Works became the Guildford Glass and Metal Works during its time on the site that bordered Portsmouth Road and Bury Street. Later it reverted to being the Glass Works and moved into a wing of my family home, Westbury House, Bury Street. When my parents moved out of Westbury House in1972 the company was sold to Pilkingtons.

Share This Post