Felbridge Scouting Review

Felbridge Scouting Review

Memories of the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop 1933 – 1992

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Felbridge Scouting Review is a tribute to the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop that was established in 1933 (a Wolf Cub Pack being formed a year later in 1934), together with some of the key aspects of the Scouting Movement from it conception in 1908.  What better way to celebrate what would have been the 1st Felbridge Scout’s 85th anniversary, than a collection of memories from some of the people involved with the Troop during its 57 years of existence.


Beginning of the Boy Scout movement

In 1899 Robert Baden-Powell wrote Aids to Scouting, which was a military field manual, written for British soldiers.  In 1900, Baden-Powell came to the attention of the British public by becoming a national hero for his 217-day defence of Mafeking in the Boer War in South Africa.  It is thanks to this attention that Baden-Powell’s ideas, as outlined in his publication Aids to Scouting, caught the imaginations of a younger audience.  Boys loved the lessons on tracking and observation and organised elaborate games using the book as a basis.  On hearing this, Baden-Powell decided to write a non-military field manual for adolescents that would also emphasize the importance of morality and good deeds. 


First, however, Baden-Powell decided to try out some of his ideas on group of ordinary boys so on 25th July 1907 he took a diverse group of 21 adolescents to BrownseaIsland in Dorset where they set up camp for a fortnight.  With the aid of other instructors, he taught the boys about camping, observation, deduction, woodcraft, boating, lifesaving, patriotism and chivalry.  Many of these lessons were learned through inventive games that were very popular with the boys.  Needless-to-say the first Boy Scouts’ venture was a great success.


Following the success of the BrownseaIsland camp, Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys was published in instalments, the first being on 24th January 1908.   As the name Baden-Powell was by now already well known to many English boys, thousands of them eagerly bought the handbook.  By the end of April, the serialisation of Scouting for Boys was completed and scores of impromptu Boy Scout Troops had sprung up across Britain, thus establishing the Boy Scout movement in Britain.


With the success of Scouting for Boys, Baden-Powell set up a central Boy Scouts office that registered new Scouts and designed a uniform.  By the end of 1908 there were 60,000 Boy Scouts in Britain and Troops had also begun springing up in British Commonwealth countries across the world.  In September 1909, the first national Boy Scout meeting was held at the CrystalPalace in London, 10,000 Scouts showed up, including a Troop of uniformed girls who called themselves the Girl Scouts (organised as a separate association in 1910).  In 1916, Baden-Powell organized the Wolf Cubs (now simply called Cubs) for boys under the age of 11.  In 1918, the Senior Scouts were renamed Rover Scouts and in 1920 the first international Boy Scout Jamboree was held in London and Baden-Powell was acclaimed Chief Scout of the world.  


Who was Baden-Powell?

Baden-Powell was born Robert Stephenson Smyth Powell in Paddington, London, on 22nd February 1857 and was granted the title 1st Baron Baden-Powell in 1929.  His father, Baden Powell, was a Church of England vicar and professor at OxfordUniversity.  When Robert was just three years old, his father sadly died, leaving his mother, Henrietta Grace Powell née Smyth, to bring up Robert and his siblings: half brother Baden Henry born in 1842, twins Henry Warington Smyth Baden and George Smyth Baden born in 1847, Francis Smyth Baden born in 1850, Henrietta Smyth Baden born in 1851, John Penrose Smyth Baden born in 1852, Jessie Smyth Baden born in 1855, Agnes Smyth Baden born in 1858 and Baden Baden born in 1861.


Baden-Powell studied at Charterhouse school and learnt rudimentary scouting skills playing in nearby woods.  In 1876, he joined the British Army as an officer in the 13th Hussars and was posted in India, serving with the British army until 1910.  During his army career, he learnt more advanced scouting skills, especially during his time in South Africa where knowledge of the countryside was vital for gaining information and avoiding the enemy and in 1884 he published Reconnaissance and Scouting.  From 1899 to May 1900, Baden-Powell commanded the garrison at Mafeking during the Second Boer War.  The siege of Mafeking lasted 217 days and the successful defence of the town raised the national profile of Baden-Powell.


In 1912, Baden-Powell met Olave St Clair Soames on the ocean liner Arcadian and they married in secret on 30th October 1912; she was 23, he was 55.  Baden-Powell and Olave had three children; Arthur Robert Peter born in 1913 and twins Betty St Clair and Heather Grace born in 1917.


Besides Scouting, Baden-Powell was a keen illustrator and regularly made paintings and drawings – often with a humorous slant.  He was also an excellent storyteller and loved amateur dramatics.  After retirement from the Scouting movement in 1937, he returned to Africa in 1938 moving to Nyeri in Kenya, where he died on 8th January 1941, aged 83 years, being buried there in sight of Mount Kenya.


Scout Oath, Pledge and Motto, 1908

These were written for the Scouts of the whole world, although originally focused on Scouting in Britain.  As other Troops established Scouting organizations (often in other countries), each modified the oaths and pledges to suit their own circumstances, for instance 'loyal to the King' would be replaced by the equivalent text appropriate for each country.  Also, over time Oath and Pledge have become known as Promise and Law and their wordings have varied slightly.  With regards to the Motto, it was Baden-Powell’s vision that every Scout would always be in a state of readiness, in mind and body, to do their Duty.


The following are the original Scout Oath, Pledge and Motto as set out by Lord Baden-Powell in his book Scouting for Boys, published in 1908.


The Scout Oath, 1908

On my honour, I promise that:-
1) I will do my duty to God and the King.
2) I will do my best to help others whatever it may cost me.
3) I know the Scout Law and will obey it.


The Scout Pledge, 1908

1) A Scout’s honour is to be trusted.

2) A Scout is loyal to the King, and to his officers, and to his country, and to his employers.

3) A Scout’s duty is to be useful and to help others.

4) A Scout is to be a friend to all, no matter to what social class the other belongs.

5) A Scout is Courteous.

6) A Scout is a friend to animals.

7) A Scout obeys orders of his patrol leader or Scoutmaster without question.

8) A Scout smiles and whistles under all circumstances.

9) A Scout is thrifty.


The Scout Motto, 1908

Be Prepared


Scout Oath and Pledge, 1911

Throughout the years, whilst keeping the Scout motto as ‘Be Prepared’, Baden-Powell edited the text of the Oath and Pledge several times, notably in 1911 adding: ‘A Scout is clean in Thought, Word and Deed.  Decent Scouts look down upon silly youths who talk dirt and they do not let themselves give way to temptation, either to talk it or to do anything dirty.  A Scout is pure and clean-minded and manly’.

In 1911, the Scout Oath and Pledge became known as the Promise and Law, the names by which they are still known today.  In the Scout Promise there was a change in the wording of the original Oath and there was the addition of a tenth Pledge in the Scout Law.  The Motto remained unchanged.  With the formation of the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop in 1933, they were expected to follow the amended Scout Promise and Law of 1911 until 1938 when the wording of Laws 2 and 4 were amended.


The Scout Promise, 1911

On my honour, I promise that I will do my best:-
1) To do my duty to God and the King.
2) To help other people at all times.
3) To obey the Scout Law.


The Scout Law, 1911

1) A Scout’s honour is to be trusted.

2) A Scout is loyal to the King, and to his officers, and to his country, and to his employers.

3) A Scout’s duty is to be useful and to help others.

4) A Scout is to be a friend to all and a brother to every Scout no matter to what social class the other belongs.

5) A Scout is Courteous.

6) A Scout is a friend to animals.

7) A Scout obeys orders of his patrol leader or Scoutmaster without question.

8) A Scout smiles and whistles under all circumstances.

9) A Scout is thrifty.

10) A Scout is clean in thought, word and deed.


Cecil E Medcalf and the formation of 1st Felbridge Scout Troop

Cecil E Medcalf, at the suggestion of the recently appointed Rev Albert Sidley at St John’s church, is the man responsible for the formation of the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop on 28th June 1933.


Cecil Esdaile Medcalf had been born in Walthamstow, Essex, on the 12th November 1906, the son of Stanley Medcalf and his wife Ada Rosina née Fullforth.  Little is known about the family other than Stanley and Ada had married in 1901 in West Ham and that by 1911 they were living at 9, Alexandra Road, Wimbledon, where Stanley had established a commercial and insurance agency.  By 1930 the Medcalfs had moved from Wimbledon to Harmonie, Rowplatt Lane, Felbridge.  Cecil worked for the General Post Office and in 1939 was appointed to the East Grinstead branch of the Post Office.  By 1962 Cecil was living at 31, Grosvenor Road, East Grinstead, and on 27th December 1969 he married Ruth Cunningham Cooke née Poole, a widowed school teacher; Cecil by then was aged 63 and Ruth was aged 51.  In 1982 Cecil and Ruth moved to 54, Fairlawn Drive, East Grinstead, where Ruth died on 13th December the same year and Cecil died, aged 90, on 10th November 1996.


In 1933, after three years living in Felbridge, Cecil established the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop, the first in Felbridge, some 25 years after the formation of the Scouting movement.  Prior to this date any boy wishing to become a Scout would have had to join the 1st East Grinstead Troop that had been established in 1908.   It is possible that Cecil had joined the Scouting movement as a boy in Wimbledon as there were and are certainly still a number of Troops in the region to this day.  Thus, at the suggestion of Rev Albert Sidley and with backing of the influential East Grinstead Scout Master Dr S Lewis Walker (known as ‘Doc’ Walker), Cecil was persuaded to form a Troop in Felbridge.  Cecil Medcalf was assisted by Lewis William Edden (see below), who was a dairy farmer at Wiremill and Mr Mills [probably Edward James Mills of Glenthorne, Copthorne Road, Felbridge] who had previously been the Scout Master at Eltham. 


The Troop was formed with just 6 boys from the village of Felbridge and North End, the area on the north of East Grinstead that abuts the southern end of Felbridge.  Initially the Troop did not have a purpose built Headquarters so met in the Medcalf’s garage at Harmonie before being offered the old coach-house at the vicarage at St John’s Church, Felbridge, by the new vicar to the parish, William Herbert Hewitt.  This was renovated, customised and decorated by the Scouts themselves.  Emphasis was placed upon activities such as physical education, much promoted by Doc Walker, and outdoor pursuits.  The Troops first camp was in 1934 at Brook House Farm, [Hammingden Lane] Ardingly.  Also in 1934, a Wolf Cub Pack was established for boys of a younger age group, with Lewis Edden’s wife, Edith Mary as Wolf Cub Mistress. 


Original and early 1st Felbridge Scouts include: Charlie and Dennis Beard, Ernie Borer, Fred Butcher, Harry Gupwell, Cecil ‘Specky’ Harrison, Tom and Len Jupp, Arthur Mills, Fred Redman, Peter ‘Tubby’ Southall and Bert ‘Piggy’ Wheeler. 


In 1936, Cecil Medcalf stepped down as Scout Master of the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop and was succeeded by Lewis William Edden; Edith Edden still retaining the position of Wolf Cub Mistress.


1st Felbridge Scout Troop

Every Scout Troop is named after its place of origin and when the Troop was formed in Felbridge in 1933 it adopted the name 1st Felbridge, being the first Troop to have been formed in Felbridge.  At the formation of 1st Felbridge, a flash was worn on the left shoulder with the Troops name – 1st Felbridge embroidered in red on a white background.  Each Troop forms part of a District and Felbridge became part of the East Grinstead District.  Each District is part of a County and although Felbridge is in the civil parish of Surrey, it straddles the Surrey/Sussex border and was affiliated to the County of Sussex.  Each of the different Counties have a different emblem and the Sussex County badge was and still is a shield-shaped cloth badge with the traditional Sussex coat of arms comprising of six gold martlets (a bird somewhat like a swallow) on a blue background beneath the county name SUSSEX.



Each Scout Troop is made up of a number of Patrols, each headed up by an older Scout called a Patrol Leader, sometimes assisted by an Assistant Patrol Leader.  When the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop was formed, each Patrol was identified by the wearing of ‘coloured flashes’ known as shoulder knots (a pair of coloured ribbon braids specific to each Patrol) on their left shoulder, thus each Patrol had a different combination of coloured braids, eg: pale blue and yellow for Beaver, brown and white for Otter, pale blue for Owl, green and white for Peewit, fawn and red for Squirrel.  From 1967 Patrol colours were replaced by a woven rectangular badge depicting blocks of the specific colours and in 1981 the emblems changed again with a representation of the animal or bird in white below or partially covering the ‘colour’ element represented by horizontal lines with the Scouting fleur-de-lis symbol above.


Patrols were named after native animals or birds that could be found locally to the area in which the Troop was formed eg: a Troop near the sea may have a Seagull Patrol or a Gannet Patrol and a city Troop may have a Bulldog or a Fox Patrol.  One of the original Patrols adopted by 1st Felbridge Scouts was Peewit (a bird also known as a Lapwing, which could be frequently seen at Imberhorne Farm up to the late 1950’s).  Later additional Patrols of the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop included: Beaver, Otter, Owl and Squirrel.


For the younger element of Scouting, the Wolf Cubs (known later simply as Cubs), their Patrols were known as Sixes and each Six was known by a specific single colour, eg: Yellow.  Each Six had an older Cub as its leader known as a Sixer who sometimes had an assistant known as an Assistant Sixer.


Scouting Uniform in the 1930’s

The Scout uniform was and still is a widely recognized characteristic of Scouting, originally chosen by Baden-Powell to hide ‘all differences of social standing in a country and makes for equality; but, more important still, it covers differences of country and race and creed, and makes all feel that they are members with one another of the one great brotherhood’.


The original uniform consisted of a khaki button-up shirt with large breast pockets, knee-length shorts, knee-length socks, sturdy leather boots, a leather belt suitable for hanging equipment from (like a sheaf knife, whistle, compass etc) and a broad-brimmed campaign hat with four dents in the crown and a leather band around the crown and a leather chin-strap, now known a Baden-Powell hat (based on the woollen felt hat that was originally worn by Baden-Powell in 1896 during the 2nd Matabele war in South Africa).  A Scout would also have his own stave or staff, a shoulder-high wooden pole or quarterstaff (generally coppiced ash), traditionally carried by Boy Scouts as part of their accoutrements.  Its main purpose was as a walking stick, but it had a number of other uses in emergency situations.  The staff, 5ft 6ins (1.68m) in length was marked in feet and inches and Patrol Leaders carried a white pennant on their staff showing a silhouette of their Patrol emblem.

While designed for smartness and equality, the Scout uniform was also practical.  Shirts traditionally had thick seams to make them ideal for use as makeshift stretchers (Scouts were trained to use them in this way with their staffs).  The leather straps and toggles of the campaign hats or Leaders' Wood Badges could be used as emergency tourniquets or anywhere that string was needed in a hurry.  Neckerchiefs (each Troop had their own specific colour to distinguish them from another Troop) were chosen as they could easily be used as a sling or triangular bandage by a Scout in need.  Scouts were also encouraged to use their garters for shock cord (heavy, elasticated cord used to fasten, bear weight or absorb shock), where necessary.


In 1933, when the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop was established, the uniform was very similar to the original but by then the Scout woggle had been introduced in 1932 to hold the neckerchief in place without the need to tie the specific Scout knot and the shorts were dark blue as were the socks.  However, the socks, held up with garter tabs, now had two bands of colour around the tops to distinguish the type of Scout they were: emerald green bands and garter tabs for Boy Scouts (11-15 years), maroon garter tabs and epaulettes for Senior Boy Scouts (16-18 years) and red garter tabs with green epaulettes for Rover Scouts (over 18 years).


Distinctive insignia was also worn on all Boy Scout uniforms, the Boy Scout Association’s internationally known symbol of the fleur-de-lis and, until 1934, the swastika.  The use of the latter was introduced in 1911 as a Thanks Badge and in 1922 Baden-Powell's design for the Medal of Merit added a swastika to the Scout Arrowhead to symbolize good luck for the recipient.  However, in 1934, Scouters requested a change to the design because of the connection of the swastika with its more recent use by the German National Socialist Workers (Nazi) Party and a new Medal of Merit was issued by the Boy Scouts Association in 1935.


Horne Parochial School Concert

In spite of wintery weather a large number of Managers, parents and friends attended the concert given by the children of  Horne Parochial School…………. The Felbridge and Horne Boy Scouts gave an item, including a song…… (Surrey Mirror & County Post, Friday 22nd December 1933 [abridged])


First Headquarters

BOY SCOUTS – The 1st Felbridge Troop of Boy Scouts have been greatly assisted by the vicar (the Rev. W. H. Hewitt) who had shown his keen personal interest in their welfare by finding them headquarters at the Vicarage.  The Scouts themselves are carrying out the necessary alterations to the building under the direction of Scoutmaster C. E. Medcalf.  A pack of Wolf Cubs has also been formed and good progress with the younger boys is already being made.  (Surrey Mirror & County Post, Friday 15th June 1934)


First Camp

BOY SCOUTS – spent some ten days under canvas the 1st Felbridge Boy Scouts have returned from their first camp.  The rendezvous was Brook House Farm, Ardingly, where Scoutmaster C. E. Medcalf made every arrangement for the boys’ enjoyment.  (Surrey Mirror & County Post, Friday 31ST August 1934)


Armistice Sunday

The observances of the Two Minutes’ Silence took place during the morning service which was very impressive.  Just before the Silence the organist (Mr. Caine) played the Dead March in Saul, and after the silence the hymn “O God, our help in ages past” was sung, and then the 1st Felbridge Troop Boy Scouts took their flag to the altar.  There were two wreaths on the War Memorial, one from Mr. Paice [Charles Herbert Paice, the Felbridge blacksmith who lost his son Herbert Charles in 1915 during World War I], and one from the Committee, S.M. [Scout Master] and Troop of the Scouts. The Vicar read out the names of the fallen in Felbridge.  The Rev. W. H. Hewitt preached a very inspiring sermon.  Half of the offertory was devoted to Earl Haig’s Fund, and the service ended with the National Anthem.  (Surrey Mirror & County Post, Friday 16th November 1934)


Scouts Social

The 1st Felbridge Troop Boy Scouts held their second Social on Wednesday last week at the Felbridge Institute [Felbridge (St John’s) Institute, now the site of Mulberry Court off Copthorne Road] when there were some 100 people present and all spent a very enjoyable evening.  The items were interspersed with dancing, Mrs. Pentecost gave two very good renderings of songs, Miss Clarke recited “The Wanderer”, and also sang, and Mr. Back entertained in his usual creezy and witty manner.  The Felbridge Country Dancing Class rendered some very acceptable items, those taking part being Miss Cheal, Mr. G. Cheal, Miss Hall, Mr. Fillery, Mr. H. Gupwell, Miss I. Adams, and others.  Three playlets by the Scouts “The Evening Rocket”, “The Fiver”, and “The Tramp by the Roadside”, were also much appreciated.  The dance music was by the Rhythm Players.  G. Beckett recited two poems “The Noble Boy” and “The Crossing Sweepers”.  A grand finale was the Camp Fire depicting one of the features of the Scout camp life.  The local members acquitted themselves with much credit in a true representation of this interesting feature.  Mr. Brian Lynn gave useful assistance in the preparation of the programme.  The arrangements were in the hands of the Committee and Scoutmaster, and the proceeds will be devoted to Scout Funds.  (Surrey Mirror & County Post, Friday 15th February 1935)


A new Scout Master at 1st Felbridge Scout Troop

In 1936 Cecil Medcalf stepped down from leading the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop and was succeeded by Lewis William Edden as Scout Master with his wife Edith as Wolf Cub Mistress.


Lewis William Edden had been born at Ivy Cottage, Ilford Lane, Ilford, Essex, on 18th September 1892, the son of Thomas Lewis Edden, a Commercial Traveller and Representative (Chemist), and his wife Charlotte Edith née Park.  Lewis had at least 6 siblings, including: Katherine Mary 1888, Emily Helen and Henry John 1889, John Frank born in 1890, Ellen Louisa 1895, Gladys Isabel 1897.  By 1911 the Edden family were living at 22, Handen Road, Lee, SE12, and Lewis was training to become a farmer.  During World War I, Lewis served as a Lance Corporal in the 26th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, and in 1915 was given the Freedom of the City of London.  In 1920 Lewis married Ethel Mary Adams in Lewisham, Kent.  Ethel had been born in Clapham, Surrey, on 8th July 1889, the daughter of Edwin John Adams, a dairyman, and his wife Sarah Elizabeth née Giles.  Lewis and Edith appear not to have had children and by 1922, were living at 22, High Street, Bexley, Kent, Lewis working as a fruitier, before moving to 101, Greenvale Road, Eltham, Surrey, by 1922. 


Sometime between 1926 and 1932, Lewis and Edith moved to Millpond Farm near Wiremill, at the northern end of the Felbridge parish.  The Eddens remained at Millpond Farm until 1945 when they left the Felbridge area and moved, first to 45, Dunvegan Road, Woolwich, and then in 1948, to 103, Craigton Road, Woolwich, where Lewis eventually died, aged 67, on  29th January 1960;  Edith died, aged 79, on 19th February 1969.


It would appear that under Lewis Edden the Scouting ethos and discipline were re-invigorated at the 1st Felbridge Troop, both of which appear to have lapsed since its formation in 1933 (see below).  Under Lewis Edden’s leadership many Troop meetings were held at his dairy farm at Wiremill during the summer months, as well as many weekend camps.  From the memories of early Scouts, compiled in the 50th anniversary publication of the 1st Felbridge Scout Group in 1983, ‘a dam was built in the Wiremill Lake overflow to make it deep enough for swimming and the Scouts would often help the ‘Skipper’ [as Lewis Edden known] with haymaking and feeding the animals.  Sometimes at the end of the day they would be joined by other Scout Troops camping there for camp fire activities’.  Another highlight for the 1st Felbridge Troop was that in 1937, the Edden’s took them up to London for the Coronation of King George VI.   


In 1938, Lewis Edden was joined at the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop by Gerry and Connie Sorrell who had recently married and moved to Felbridge from the Tunbridge Wells area.  Gerry Sorrell had been in the Scouts in his youth and had been a Scout Leader since 1921, founding the 15th Pembury Scout Troop in 1923.  On their arrival in Felbridge, they both became actively involved with the 1st Felbridge Troop after being invited to the Scout Christmas party by Lewis and Edith Edden in 1938.  Initially Gerry helped with the Troop and Connie took over from Edith Edden as the Wolf Cub Pack Leader.  Later Gerry formed the ‘Rover Crew’ and eventually took over the Wolf Cub Pack from his wife. 


Lewis Edden remained as Scout Master at 1st Felbridge Scout Troop until 1944/5 when he moved away and Gerry Sorrel kept the Troop together for the remainder of World War II until a new Scout Master could be appointed.  During this time Gerry Sorrell was assisted by Phyllis Dean [of Glen Heron, Rowplatt Lane, Felbridge] who took over as Wolf Cub Mistress.  The new Scout Master, Dave Tomsett, joined the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop at the end of 1945.


Broadstone Warren for Scouting

Mr. Alfred Wagg’s Gift

The whole of Broadstone Warren, 400 acres of the most beautiful part of AshdownForest, has been given by Mr. Alfred Wagg to the Scouting movement…..


There were welcome signs of improvement in the Felbridge Troop, which had been taken over by Mr. Edden.  The numbers had increased to 20, and there was an improvement in both discipline and Scouting generally…….  The Chairman commented…. the improvement at Felbridge was a welcome one…..


A centre for camping

In response to a request by the chairman, Mr. Bury explained that Broadstone Warren would be developed as a camping centre…………  (Kent and Sussex Courier, Friday 5th February 1937 [abridged])


Scout Oath, Pledge and Law, 1938

In 1938, the wording of the Scout Law was unchanged but alterations were made to the wording of nos. 2, 4, 7 and 8 of the Scout Laws.  The Motto remained the same as it had been since 1908.


The Scout Promise, 1938

On my honour, I promise that I will do my best:-
1) To do my duty to God and the King.
2) To help other people at all times.
3) To obey the Scout Law.


The Scout Law, 1938

1) A Scout’s honour is to be trusted.

2) A Scout is loyal to the King, his country, his Scouters, his parents, his employers and to those under him.

3) A Scout’s duty is to be useful and to help others.

4) A Scout is to be a friend to all and a brother to every Scout no matter what country, class or creed, the other may belong.

5) A Scout is Courteous.

6) A Scout is a friend to animals.

7) A Scout obeys orders of his parents, Patrol Leader or Scoutmaster without question.

8) A Scout smiles and whistles under all difficulties.

9) A Scout is thrifty.

10) A Scout is clean in thought, word and deed.


1st Felbridge Scouts in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s

The following is based on the reminiscences of Brian Roberts who was born in 1930 and moved to Littlecote, Crawley Down Road, Felbridge, in 1936.  Brian joined the 1st Felbridge Scouts in the late 1930’s under Scout Master Lewis Edden.


Early Scout Camps

Outdoor activities and camping have always featured highly in the life of a Boy Scout and by the late 1930’s 1st Felbridge camped at Millpond Farm, Wiremill, and later at a farm at Marsh Green, Kent.  Here the Scouts learned the practicalities of camping outdoors; how to put up a tent; how to make and light a camp fire from materials to hand; how to recognise tree species and which woods were best for fires; how to chop fire wood; and how to cook on an outdoor camp fire.  They also learned basic First Aid; tying knots and which knot is best for which purpose; as well as signalling, tracking and pioneering, giving the boys the opportunities to put into practise all that Baden-Powell had talked about in his book Scouting for Boys.


Training for Master-at-Arms

Two of the Irish Guards, Arthur Danahar and Paddy Roche, who were stationed at Hobbs Barracks [Newchapel, Felbridge] during the War [1939-1945], were National Boxing Champions.  Arthur Danahar was boxing circa 1938, until circa 1946, and was famous enough to appear as card no.10 in a collection of Churchman’s cigarette cards of great boxers in 1938, and Paddy Roche became the Welterweight Boxing Champion of Ireland in 1942.  Both men were given time to pursue their boxing careers whilst in military service and members of the 1st Felbridge Scouts used to be taken to train with them at the barracks.  (Brian Roberts) 

Arthur Danahar was born in Bethnal Green, London, in 1918.  He was the ABA Lightweight Champion in 1937 and made his debut as a Welterweight boxer in March 1938.  He became the Southern Area Welterweight Champion in 1941; he boxed in 74 contests and retained his title until 1947.  Paddy (Patrick) Roche had been born in Cork, Ireland, in 1912.  Paddy made his Welterweight debut in May 1936 and became Welterweight Champion of Ireland in 1942.  He was active until 1948 and boxed in 169 professional contests, at Welterweight, Middleweight and Light-heavyweight.


Brian Roberts – Second Class Scout

In the early 2000’s Brian donated his Scout hat, badges and insignia to the Felbridge archive and from these we know that he was a member of the Peewit Patrol, being of the era when this was denoted by the green and white ribbon braids known as shoulder knots.  There is also his Tenderfoot Badge, awarded after he passed the Scout Admission Test that required him to know something about the founding of the Scouting Movement and the life of Lord Baden-Powell.  He would also have had to satisfy the Scout Master (Lewis Edden) that he knew the following:

The Scout Pledge and Scout Law, and their meaning

The Scout Salute

The composition of the Union Flag, and how to hoist, break and fly it

How to clean a wound and make and apply a dressing

How to make the woodcraft signs given in Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys camp Fire Yarn 4

Demonstrate with rope, how to tie the following knots: reef knot, sheet-bend, clove hitch, bowline, round turn and two half hitches and sheepshank; and explain their uses

How to whip the end of a rope. 

Brian was also awarded the Second Class Scout Badge that meant the Scout Master (Lewis Edden) was satisfied that Brian knew the following:

How to deal with common minor accidents: cuts and scratches, bleeding from the nose, stings and bites, burns and scalds

How to avoid sun-burn

How to demonstrate the use of the triangular bandage as a sling and how to summon help and to treat for shock (not electrical)

The general rules of health as given in camp fire yarn 18 of Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys

Kim's Game, an exercise performed in the Scouting Movement to develop individuals’ capacities of observation and recall, and then to describe in writing, 16 out of 24 assorted articles following one minutes' observation; or alternatively, follow a half-a-mile 875yd (800m) trail containing not less than 30 woodcraft signs, in 25 minutes

How to recognise and name six common trees and know the value of their woods for fires

How to tie and know the uses of timber-hitch and fisherman's knots

How to demonstrate square and diagonal lashings by constructing a trestle from Scout staffs

The safety rules and care of a hand-axe and knife and demonstrate how to chop firewood

The 16 points of the compass and how to set a map

How to lay and light a fire out-of-doors with natural materials, using not more than two matches; and how to cook a sausage and potatoes over the fire, make and cook a twist or damper and make tea

The Highway Code paragraphs on the road user on foot and paragraphs on the road user on wheels and, if he had the use of a bicycle, demonstrate that he kept it properly maintained and that he was able to effect minor repairs

Go by day, on foot, with other Scouts, at least one of whom was another Tenderfoot Scout, on a journey of 8 miles (13km).  The journey had to be a route laid down by the Scout Master, with an objective given.  A verbal report, from notes, then had to be made to the Scout Master on his immediate return


Brian would also:

Have to have completed not less than three months' service as a Scout and had good attendance at Church

Have to re-pass the Tenderfoot test

Show that he understood the Scout Pledge and Scout Law and was a satisfactory member of his Patrol.


Although there is no First Class Scout Badge in the badge collection, Brian was obviously working towards it as he had been awarded four proficiency badges towards the six required.  The four that Brian had been awarded were: Athlete, Entertainer, First Aid and Music Maker.  He also had the red and gold National Service badge that was introduced in 1939, which was given out during World War II to over 50,000 Scouts who had been trained to undertake National War Service jobs, such as acting as police messengers, firemen and stretcher bearers.


In case of a major incident

During the war years [1939-1945], Felbridge School was designated a Rest Centre for the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service and should a major incident have occurred the school was to become the Co-Ordination Centre for the dead and injured.  It was the job of the Felbridge Scouts to muster, along with their handcart, to ferry the dead and injured to the school’.  (Brian Roberts)


Scout Concert

The 1st Felbridge Scout Troop gave their annual concert in the Institute on Tuesday evening.  After the opening chorus there was the Cubs’ Howl, followed by a sketch, “Five Scouts up a Pole”.  “June” gave a dance, and the Scouts performed another sketch.  An exhibition of weight lifting was given by Scout Southall [‘Peter Tubby’ Southall].  The Cubs presented several tableaux, and Mr. Pope sang a number of songs.  The Scouts acted a play, and a humorous demonstration of the Indian rope trick was given by “Ram Singh”.  By special request, the Scouts ended their show with a tableau of the flags of all nations (which proved so popular last year).  The show was produced by Mr. L. W. Edden (Scoutmaster) and Mrs. Edden (Cubmistress).  (Surrey Mirror & County Post, Friday 27th January 1939)


Name Change

In October 1945, 1st Felbridge Scout Troop changed its name to 1st Felbridge (3rd East Grinstead).  So far the reason for the name change has not been established and there are no further details in the Scout Association Heritage archive.  However, subsequent uniform flashes denoting the name of the Troop have only ever been embroidered with ‘1st Felbridge’. 


1st Felbridge Scout Troop under Scout Master Dave Tomsett (1945 – c1953)

The period immediately after the war [World War II] was as confused in the Felbridge Group [1st Felbridge Troop] as it was in the rest of Europe.  However in late 1945 a Mr. Dave Tomsett was introduced to the group by Gerry Sorrell.  At this time the group sections were meeting at the old village hall in Felbridge [Felbridge (St John’s) Institute, now the site of Mulberry Court off Copthorne Road]. 


The Troop grew fast during this period and a summer camp in Europe was undertaken in 1946.  “Skipper” Dave with his assistant took 31 boys across Belgium and Germany to Denmark.  This camp lasted 4 weeks and was probably one of the first such trips across war torn Europe after the cessation of hostilities.  The then District Commissioner, Colonel Fuller, had been instrumental in “pulling stings” to make the trip possible.


…..After that [1947] the troop increased to 7 patrols and Senior Scouts started.  Mr. “Bosun” Simms was Cub Master at that time.  The group prospered during the fifties until Dave Tomsett was forced to give up by ill health……  (Taken from 1st Felbridge Scout Group, 1933-1983) 


International Scout Friendship

I joined the 1st Felbridge Scouts in about 1940 and left about 1947.  At first we met in an old barn behind the old Institute [Felbridge (St John’s) Institute].  We spent a lot of time outdoors, often in the woods behind Felbridge School where we learnt knots, climbing trees and woodcraft things.  Alf Carder, my uncle who was a warden in the ARP [Air Raid Precaution], used to come down from time to time to teach us and we also learnt about pulleys and how to hoist people up into the trees.   Our Scout Master was Dave Tomsett [a former 1st East Grinstead Scout] and in about 1947 we moved Headquarters to a hut in Stream Park.  I was in the Beaver Patrol and some of my contemporary Scouts were: Graham Everest, Don Foster, Robin Huggett, Ernie Luxford, Reggie Meeks, Alan North, Ron Polhill, Keith Trosh and somebody Vice who lived in Buckhurst Way.  Dave Tomsett was our Scout Master throughout all my time with the 1st Felbridge Scouts.


When I joined the Scouts there was a very ‘international’ climate within the Scouting movement and we mixed with lots of foreign Scouts.  Dr Walker [Dr S Lewis Walker founded the 1st East Grinstead Scout Troop in 1908], who lived at Baldwins (I believe), was keen to promote international friendship inviting foreign Scouts to camp with us at Baldwins.  Some Scouts came over from Denmark and then some of us went to Denmark, by train, for 2-3 weeks in about 1946, passing through war-torn Hamburg and Cologne; there were no buildings standing, it was just all rubble.  In Denmark we camped for the first part of our stay and then spent some time staying with some of the Danish Scout’s families.  Another time 5 of us went to Switzerland to camp but on our arrival at Zurich we found that they had forgotten that we were coming so we were boarded in a huge house for the first week, overlooking the Lake, very luxurious.  We were taken out on the Lake in a launch and had a hamper of food and drink and we were also chauffer-driven round in a big car to see all the sights in comfort.   Unfortunately Reggie Meeks was car sick and used his hat; he then went to throw the contents out of the car window and ended throwing away his hat as well!  I know that many bits of our Scout uniform were designed to be used as something else in the event of an emergency but I don’t recall being taught that the hat could be used as a sick bag!!   For the second week we were boarded in a hotel in Brunel and were left to our own devises, so we did a lot of ‘hiking’ around.   Much better than camping!  I also remember going to an International Jamboree at StanmarPark, Brighton, where we met lots of foreign Scouts.


We did camp at home as well, at Broadstone Warren, where we did camp cooking and dug gullies to divert heavy rain away from the tent walls.  We had to walk all the way to Broadstone Warren from Felbridge and then all the way home again.  I was so tired that I fell asleep on our lawn on my arrival home.  We also camped at a farm at Marsh Green [near Edenbridge, Kent], something to do with the Assistant District Commandant I think. 


One year we had a Church Parade to St Swithun’s church in East Grinstead.  We had to wear just our Scout uniform and my mother thought I’d get too cold in just my dark green, short sleeved shirt so she made me wear a thick woolly vest under it. I can’t remember what the parade was for, perhaps St George’s Day, but I remember I had to read the lesson to a packed church.  As I read the lesson I realised the sleeve of my woolly vest was gradually descending below my Scout shirt sleeve, most embarrassing. (Peter Sinden) 


1st Felbridge Scouts get a new Headquarters

Initially meeting in the Medcalf’s garage in Rowplatt Lane, the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop were then offered the old coach-house at the Felbridge vicarage as their Headquarters.  During the early 1940’s, a new venue had to be found after damage was sustained on the old coach-house when 3 bombs fell in the vicinity of St John ‘s church and the vicarage grounds on 28th August 1940.  Various meeting places were used including the barn behind the Felbridge (St John’s) Institute, the Felbridge (St John’s) Institute itself and even the squash court in the ownership of Douglas Stern of The Stream.  At the end of World War II Douglas Stern, together with Mrs Stollery, became instrumental in providing a suitable Headquarters for the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop and in 1947 the Troop acquired its final, more spacious Headquarters, situated in StreamPark.


In 1928, Major Douglas Carter Stern, DSO, and his wife Elsie, moved to Stream Farm (now Old Felbridge House, The Feld), Felbridge, from London, renaming the property The Stream.  In about 1937/8, Douglas Stern purchased a piece of land adjacent to his property (now the site of Felwater Court and the bungalow called Touchwood) from Major T Stewart Inglis DSO, an architect, Felbridge property developer and, at the time, resident proprietor of the Olde Felbridge Hotel (now the Crowne Plaza, Felbridge).  This plot of land had housed stables, potting sheds, greenhouses and a nursery/market garden used by the Olde Felbridge Hotel.  Purchase of this plot of land gave the Sterns access to the rear of their grounds at The Stream from the recently constructed roadway of StreamPark. 


With the end of World War II, the Felbridge Scout Troop was looking for a new Headquarters they could call their own.  So in 1947, aided by a generous committee member, Helen Elizabeth Stollery of St Aubyns, Baldwins Hill, East Grinstead, the Troop purchased an ex-searchlight hut from the army camp at Baldwins Hill in East Grinstead.  Douglas Stern leased, for a ‘peppercorn rent’, part of his recently acquired plot of land at The Stream (now the site of Touchwood) and the Troop and its Leaders erected the hut under the guidance of local builder, Bert Pope.  This large black wooden hut was to remain the 1st Felbridge Scout Headquarters until 1989.


1st Felbridge Scouts in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s

The following are the reminiscences Tony Marden who was born in 1938 and who lived at Edgeworth, Lake View Road, Furnace Wood, Felbridge.  Tony joined the 1st Felbridge Scouts in 1949, under Scout Master ‘Colin someone (I think)’.  Contemporary Scouts (from Tony’s memory) were: John Ansley, ‘Chun’ [John] Baldwin, David Barber (and possibly his brother Norman), Roy Bingham, Denis Chatfield , Robert Dean (who lived in Rowplatt Lane), John Farmer, Andrew Lindfield and Den Strip and his brother Ray.


Corfe Castle

Camps were held on a farm at Marsh Green near Edenbridge, Kent, and at CorfeCastle in Dorset.  Camping at CorfeCastle always sticks out in my mind as we had to load the handcart up with all the camping equipment and tents and pull/push it to the [East Grinstead] station.  Here we had to unload all the stuff and take the wheels off the cart and put it in the Guard’s van, along with all the equipment.  There were at least two changes in our train journey to CorfeCastle and each time we had to get the cart out, put the wheels back on and re-load with all the tents and things, then un-load everything and take the wheels off so that we could put it all in the next Guard’s van.  On arrival at the station for CorfeCastle we had to get the cart out, put the wheels on, re-load with everything and then push it up a really steep hill to the campsite! (Tony Marden)


Felbridge Boy Scout Displays

In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop were called upon to perform ‘displays’ (probably gymnastic) at the annual local Felbridge Fetes.  The running order for the Felbridge Village Fete held in the Grounds of Felbridge Place Hotel [now the site of Whittington College] ‘By kind permission of Mrs. J Tellings’ on Saturday 25th June 1949 started at 3pm and closed at 10.30pm.  It was opened with a Carnival Procession of ‘Dressed Cars’ led by the East Grinstead A.T.C Band who marched from the Old Felbridge Hotel to the grounds of Felbridge Place Hotel.  Besides the 1st Felbridge Scout display, other attractions included: a Fancy Dress Competition, Children’s Sports, a Parade of the Old Surrey and Burstow Hounds, Folk Dancing performed by children of FelbridgeSchool, the Copthorne Silver Band, Adult Sports, Old Time Dancing and concluded with a display of Fireworks.  Running for the duration of the Fete were ‘Side Shows, open throughout the day until close’.


At the Festival Fete, held as part of the 1951 Festival of Britain celebrations in Felbridge the 1st Felbridge Scouts again put on a display, as a local newspaper article reported:


Fun in the sun at Felbridge Fete

Warm sunshine helped to make a success of the Festival Fete held on The School Green in Felbridge.

A large number of people attended the Fete which was in aid of the village institute [Felbridge (St John’s) Institute] renovation fund and £75 was raised. It was opened by the Rev. W. H. Hewitt who was the vicar of Felbridge for 16 years until 1949.

………  The proceedings started with a carnival procession led by the East Grinstead A. T. C. Band from the Star Hotel.  During the afternoon there were displays by 1st Felbridge Girl Guides, 1st Felbridge Boy Scouts and St John Ambulance Brigade.  Adult races were held in the evening prior to dances at the Institute……..  (Local Newspaper article, 8th June 1951 [abridged])


Bob-a-Job Week, 50’s style

Bob-a-Job Week had been introduced in April 1949 as a fund raising scheme based on the premise that all Scouts promise to help other people.  The idea was for each Scout to do a job for someone or a business and earn a shilling, nick-named a ‘Bob’ (today this would be the equivalent of 5p) and every Scout was asked to earn a ‘Bob’ for the national headquarters.  Anything each Scout earned above a shilling could be kept by the local Scout Troop.  The idea was so successful that it became an annual fund raising event, held throughout England until the 1990’s.


We did Badge work and stuff, First Aid, lighting camp fires and cooking, that sort of thing.  We also did Bob-a-Job: cutting lawns, digging vegetable patches, hedge cutting and cutting the grass in the ditches with a swap hook, or we might have to go to the little shop in Furnace Wood for people or clean cars, but the latter was very rare.  (Tony Marden)


The Next Scout Master of 1st Felbridge Scout Troop

In about 1952/3, George Payne took over as Scout Master of the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop.  George Ernest Payne had been in Tonbridge, Kent, on born 25th September 1927, the son of Lauriston William Payne and his wife Elsie Caroline née Barton.  George was one of at least four children, his siblings including: Dora Elsie Madeline who was born in 1915, Marjorie Agnes who was born in 1917 and William Frederick who was born in 1919.  In 1948, George married Marjorie D Johnson in East Grinstead; Marjorie having been born in East Grinstead in 1927, the daughter of a William F Johnson and his wife Dorothy née Streeter.


Marjorie Payne, George’s wife, remembers that ‘we gave them [the 1st Felbridge Scouts] a Christmas party [paid for] out of our own pocket. This would have been about 1953 or 1954; George Rowley [Wolf Cub Master] was there as well at the time helping. Gerry Sorrell [District Commissioner] was one of the invited guests as well as Group Captain [H] Pack [Deputy County Commissioner]’. 


Numbers in 1957

In 1957, the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop was recorded as having 14 Wolf Cubs (boys between the ages of 8 and 10½ years); 14 Boy Scouts (boys between the ages of 11 to 14 years); and 5 Leaders (Group Scout Master, Scout Master, Assistant Scout Master, Wolf Cub Mistress/Master and Assistant Wolf Cub Mistress/Master).  Three years later a Senior Scout Troop was added for boys between the ages of 14 and 18 years.


Introduction of long trousers

In November 1961 long trousers were introduced as an option for Senior Scouts and Rovers, although, as reported by some former Scouts,  the Felbridge Scout Masters still preferred and continued wearing their knee-length shorts well into the 1970’s. 


Conservatives V Modernisers

The Boy Scouts Association and its programmes in Britain went relatively unchanged until a major review was held in the 1960’s.  In 1964, with membership failing, The Chief Scouts’ Advance Party was formed who undertook a survey to determine the reasons behind the falling numbers.  Their findings were published in 1966 and changes were implemented later that year and throughout 1967.   As a result, the word ‘Boy’ was dropped from the association's name, making it just The Scout Association and major changes were made to the sections and their respective programmes.  The youngest section, Wolf Cubs, were renamed Cub Scouts,  the Boy Scout section was renamed simply as Scouts and Senior Scouts and Rover Scouts were replaced with Venture Scouts, encompassing the ages of 16 to 20 years.


The Scout uniform was also changed with the introduction of long trousers for the Scouts, as opposed to the compulsory wearing of knee-length shorts, and head gear changed from being the traditional Campaign hat to a beret.  They also edited the 10 Scout Laws, as formulated by Baden-Powell himself, to just 7.  Outraged, a breakaway faction won the support of Lady Baden-Powell, then still Chief Guide, who gifted the rebels her late husband’s name, the faction becoming known as The Baden-Powell Scouting Association.


Succession of Leaders at 1st Felbridge Troop in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s

The nearer to the present day you get the harder it is to find/use documentary sources, most being restricted under the Data Protection Act.  As such you are reliant totally upon memories, which can become clouded in time, or newspaper articles that are sometimes brief and can conflict with memories.  It is generally believed that George Payne was succeeded by Ken Hinchcliffe in 1961 and when he was made Group Scout Master he was succeeded by Harry Hallam as Scout Master at the 1st Felbridge Troop.


The following comes from the 1st Felbridge Scout Group publication that was produced in 1983 in celebration of their 50th anniversary, when 1st Felbridge Scout events in the preceding 10 to 20 years were hopefully fairly fresh in people’s memories.


During the group’s A.G.M. in 1961 a reluctant parent, Mr. Ken Hinchcliffe, fell asleep and as a result found himself voted onto the committee.  This is Ken’s own story and within a few months Ken found himself Group Scout Master.  At this time the group was weak numerically and in leaders, although the Cubs, then under Mrs. Kelf, continued reasonably well.


The group gradually got itself back onto a reasonable footing during the sixties.  Ken Hinchcliffe took over as G.S.M [Group Scout Master] from Mr. Ron Schomfield who later became chairman in succession to Mr. Ron Thorpe.  The troop was led by Mr. Harry Hallam and Mr. Tony Webster who later became G.S.M.  Also, Mr. Bernie Divall and Mr. George Payne assisted and led the troop in this period.


The [Wolf Cub] Pack came under the leadership of Mr. George Rowley assisted by Mrs Muriel Redman and then Mrs. Dorothy Hinchcliffe took over.  Mrs. Hinchcliffe led the pack for many years and notably among her assistants was, for a time, Mrs. Betty Cooper who has become Assistant County Commissioner for Cub Scouts.  (Taken from 1st Felbridge Scout Group, 1933-1983) 


Scout Master Harry Hallam defects from 1st East Grinstead

In the Autumn of 1961, it had been reported in the 1st East Grinstead Scout Troop publication: Fleur-de-Lys, issue 6, that ‘Mr Harry Hallam has agreed to take over as S.M. [Scout Master] and although he has not any previous scouting experience he is very quickly making up for lost time and we look forward to more settled leadership in this important section of the Troop’.  It was at 1st East Grinstead that Harry Hallam honed his Scouting knowledge and skills before changing allegiance and moving to 1st Felbridge in about 1962.


My father took over as ‘Skip’ [of 1st Felbridge] having been encouraged by the leader of 1stEast Grinstead, Edgar Cooper.  This was so that his son Mick could go to Felbridge and my brother Brian could go to East Grinstead and neither would be in their father’s Troops.  He [Harry Hallam] took over from Ken Hinchcliffe whose wife Dorothy was Cub Leader.


There followed many years of rivalry between the two Troops for camping competitions held at BuckhurstPark.  Felbridge usually being the victors. They also camped throughout the country together as 1st EG had a large furniture removal van that moved both boys and equipment.  No Health & Safety rules in that time.  Cooking on open fires by the boys and sheath knives being part of every boys basic equipment.


From 1962-1972 both Troops took part in the East Grinstead & District Gang Shows, my father being responsible for scenery and curtains – he was a great painter!  In fact both my sister and myself were in the Shows when Guides were allowed to take part.  As my mother helped with the piano, it was a family event for many years.


My father took over as Group Scout Leader when Ken Hinchcliffe retired but I am not sure of the year; he continued running the Troop as well.  In 1970 The Scout Association announced, as part of Advanced Planning, that all Leaders and boys would go into long trousers and long sleeve shirts; Baden Powell hats would be replaced by caps.  My father was incensed by this decision and resigned his position rather than be part of a ‘softening of standards’.  I believe that Tony Webster took over the Troop.  (Carole Cooper) 


Harry Hallam remained as the Scout Master at 1st Felbridge Scout Troop until about 1972 when he was succeeded by Richard ‘Dick’ Poore.


Camp Competition in the mid 1960’s

A District camp competition had been established by the mid 1960’s held on the outskirts of St. Ives in Cambridgeshire.  Here Scout Troops competed against each other and were marked on all aspects of camping.  The small wooded 4-acre site (still in use) is situated adjacent to the River Great Ouse (a backwater of the river with access to the main river, forms one boundary).  The site is suitable for all Scout activities including boating and canoeing (small craft can be launched from the bank of the backwater or down a launch ramp close by), pioneering, hiking and cooking.  The 1st Felbridge Scout Troop regularly took part in this competition. 



Other outdoor activities included canoeing and the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop had its own canoe called ‘Heron’, which saw water off NormansBay on the Sussex coast several times in the 1960’s.


The Grand Jumble Sales

It would appear that Harry Hallam was instrumental in introducing the legendary 1st Felbridge Scout Jumble Sales that were held regularly from the early 1960’s.  Scouts would call on local households to see if anyone had any ‘jumble’ they didn’t want that could be donated towards their Jumble Sales.  Scout mothers would help sort the jumble and man the stalls at the sales.  According to a pair of early 1960’s Cub’s, Martin Jones and Clive Harte-Lovelace, the Cubs and Scouts were given first choice, which for them was a 78rpm [revolutions per minute] gramophone and a typewriter!  


1st Felbridge Scout Troop in 1965

In 1965 the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop numbered 18 Wolf Cubs under Cub Mistress Dorothy Hinchcliffe and 20 Scouts under Scout Master Harry Hallam.




The Assistant Cubmaster with the 1st Felbridge Wolf Cub Pack, Mr. Patrick J. Swinney, received his warrant on Monday.  The picture shows left to right, Mr. K. R. Hinchcliffe, Group Scout Master, Mr. Swinney, looking at his warrant, and Mrs. D. G. Hinchcliffe, Cubmaster.  (Taken from a local Newspaper, 1965)


Boy Scouts’ Summer Camps

Preparations for the annual summer camps are well under ahead in the majority of Scout Troops and during the next few weeks boys will be setting off for the highlight of the Scout year.  The 1st East Grinstead and 1st Felbridge Troops are combining and going to Arne [a 95-acre Scouting activity centre at Buddens, Wareham, offering a variety of activities including: archery, canoeing, caving, climbing, hiking, kayaking, rafting and rifle shooting] in Dorset which overlooks Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour where Lord Baden Powell held his first Scout camp.


The East Grinstead branch of the CountyLibrary have a ‘Focus on Camping’, and the Boy Scouts were asked to submit a model camp site for exhibition.  A competition was arranged and all local Troops were invited to take part, the winners being the 1st Felbridge Troop, whose model is now on display.  They will receive a suitable prize from the Local Association.


The following Cub badges have been awarded – 1st Felbridge: 1st star, Richard Williams; book reader, Michael Webster; 1st East Grinstead: 1st star Ian Thompson, William Hickling.  (Local Newspaper article, 1965)  


Gang Shows

Scout Gang Shows originally started in London in 1932 but research has shown that it was only from the 1950’s that the idea was adopted in the local area, initially by just the 1st East Grinstead Scout Troup until the early 1960’s when the whole District came together and produced a number of Gang Shows. 


The 1st Felbridge Scout Troop appeared in District Gang Shows from 1963 until the last Show in 1974.  Rehearsals for the District Gang Shows took place at several venues over the years including the 1st East Grinstead Scout Hut in Moat Road, East Grinstead, and at The Hermitage, Alfred Wagg’s house in Hermitage Lane, East Grinstead.  Performances also took place at several venues including the EastGrinsteadGrammar School in Windmill Lane, East Grinstead, and SackvilleSchool, Lewes Road, East Grinstead.


The names of people identified to have been associated with the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop at sometime during their life have been underlined in the following local newspaper article:



There we were about 150 of us, all sitting comfortably in the hall of Sackville Secondary School, East Grinstead, when the curtains parted.  We found ourselves confronted by the backs of a dozen or more boys and a large clock which was noisily notch­ing away the seconds.  After 30 'tocks' a number of chimes sounded and the stage burst into life.

As the boys turned round to face us they revealed blue shorts, white shirts and bright red neckties. ‘You’re late!' they boomed and enlarged upon this in melodic voice.

It was all in fun of course, as was everything else during the two and a half hour presentation of this year's Gang Show by the East Grinstead and District Boy Scouts' Association.


Following their opening, 'The Gang' gave us a hint of what was to follow when four dejected figures' appeared and amused with an unusual version of 'Good Old Summer Time'.  The quartet went the whole way through the tune, clad in every form of winter attire and clutching hot water bottles.  It was all rather appropriate as there was some three inches of snow outside

The weather conditions were unfortunate as it was probably the main reason why half of the seats were not occupied.  Anyway, after such lines as 'hailstones as big as your fists' etc., the pace slowed to a solo of 'All Dressed Up'.  It was not long, however, before members of the Gang intruded again with 'Where did you get that suit?' A comedy strip was 'Stand By For Your Medical' and item number five on the programme was entitled 'Mums' one of the most enjoyable pieces of the evening.  It was sung by junior members of the Gang.

During another comedy sketch, 'Parents Committee', any lack of fluent humour was lost in chuckles at the actors' attire as six of them were dressed in women's clothing. 

Before the interval and refreshments, the audience were given a rousing five minutes of music with a Biblical tang to it which was boosted by members of Lingfield Silver Band.


The second half opened with a fine piece of scenery work comprising a boat on a moving base with a projected 'sky' background.  This was very attractive and typical of the way in which the spacious and well-equipped school stage was used.  For the past three years, the town's Grammar School had been used for the production but in order to accommodate 85 members of the Gang a larger stage was required.  So Thursday night was the first time Sackville had housed a Gang Show.  Because the Gang prefer to be known as such, it is not possible to single out individual performances, which was a pity as several deserved mention.  I am sure Mr. Albert Lee, the Assistant County Commissioner for the North-east Area of Sussex would agree with me for he was among the audience. The show ran for three days.


Members of The Gang were: Hugh Antrobus, Philip Armstrong, Robert Atkins, Simon Barnsley, Neil Beney, Ian Bewick, Derry Bewick, Malcolm Bewick, Roy Bond, Peter Boorman, William Brown, Malcolm Buckle, Paul Carter, Michael Chapmam, Graham Clarke, Stuart Clark, Fred Cogar, Norman Connold, Edgar Cooper, Michael Cooper, Robert Cooper, John Crowder, Ian Davis, Keith Davis, Bernard Divall, Barry Dyer, Maxim Dyer, J Peter Fuller, Chris Furminger, Leslie Furminger, Harry Gupwell, Andrew Hall, Doug Hall, Brian Hallam, Arthur Harding, William Hickling, Ken Hinchliffe, Norman Huntley, Eric Lamprell, Ivor Leach, Malcolm Leach, Trevor Leake, Roy Luxford, Simon Marshall, Phillip May, Nigel Miller-Richards, Gary Neal, Philip Newman, Richard Nichols, Alan Pegler, Michael Pendry, Peter Prentice, John Preston, Peter Preston, Graham Pye, Graham Reader, Kevin Reader, David Rogers, Peter Rood, Nicholas Rose, Peter Rose, Paul Scott,  Neil Shoebridge, Roland Short, Roland Short, jun., Arthur Simmonds, Andrew Simmons, Peter Simmons, Arthur Spain, Malcolm Spalding, John Spencer, Ken Stacey, Stewart Starr, Paul Stonestreet, Pat Swinney, Michael Tinsley, Steve Thair, Colin Thompson, John Turnbull, Keith Twinn, Peter Twinn, Robin Walker, Michael Webster, John White, Michael White.

Assisting in the production were: Producer, Fred Cogar; assistant producer, Norman Connold; production assistant, Barbara Cooper; stage mana­ger, Edgar Cooper; stage staff, George Poet, Joe Simmons, Albert Towns, Peter Thair, Brian Williams-Fuller; Lighting and sound effects, Ken Nichols and Ken Hinchcliffe; Properties, Audrey Towns, Jane Preston; costume mistress, Peggy Nichols; costume assistants, Mesdames Sim­mons, Thompson, Turnbull, Walker and White; Make-up, Sybil Twinn; make-up assistants, Mesdames Ellsniere, Fuller, Neal and Misses Preston and Neal; Publicity, business secretary and box office, Betty Cooper; pianist, Kathleen Anderson; drums, Terry Saward; decor, Howard Bayle, Edgar Cooper and Joe Simmons; front of house, Betty Cooper; and East Grinstead Girl Guides' Association; postal bookings, Albert East. (East Grinstead Courier, April 1966)


Promise, 1967


On my honour, I promise that I will do my best,
To do my duty to God and to the Queen,
To help other people,
And to keep the Scout Law.


Scout Law, 1967

A Scout is to be trusted.

A Scout is loyal.

A Scout is friendly and considerate.

A Scout belongs to the world-wide family of Scouts.

A Scout has courage in all difficulties.

A Scout makes good use of time and is careful of possessions and property.

A Scout has self-respect and respect for others.


Memories of a 1st Felbridge Cub Scout in the late 1960’s

I joined the 1st Felbridge Cubs in 1968 and went up to Scouts 1971.  I was in the Yellow Patrol and eventually made the rank of Seconder.  Our Pack Scarf colour was light blue.  Our Pack Leader – Akela, was Mrs Russell (Mark and Richard Russell’s mum) and our Pack Helper was Baloo, but I can’t remember their name.


Some of the memories I have of being in the 1st Felbridge Cubs are the Jumble sales which were always good.  We also had a coach trip to GilwellPark, Epping Forest, which was a camp site and activity centre for Scouting.  In 1969/70, I was in the East Grinstead District Scout Gang show.  I remember the rehearsals better than the actual Show as these were based at The Hermitage [Alfred Wagg’s home in Hermitage Lane, East Grinstead, that was eventually left to the Scouts on his death], which was an old rambling house which we had the free run of to explore.  I also remember Bob-a-Job week, which I did not look forward to very much as it meant working for nothing, but I suppose it did go some way to fund the Cub pack.


Fellow Cubs included: Calvin Apps, Kevin Grimwood, Andy Hutt, Chris Lewis, Neil Moscrop, Simon Parsons, Chris Poore, Richard Russell and Mark Webster.  (Nick Jones)


East Grinstead Gang Show, 1970

Members of the cast of East Grinstead Gang Show take time off from rehearsals at The Hermitage on Sunday to have their photograph taken. The show will take the stage on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 2nd, 3rd and 4th, at SackvilleSchool, with a matinee on the Saturday.

The cast consists of 100 Cubs, Scouts and Leaders from Troops at East Grinstead, Forest Row, West Hoathly, Turners Hill and Felbridge, and also Scouts from the Ashdown Venture Unit and members of the District Service Team. The hundreds of costumes required are being organised and made under the direction of Wardrobe Mistress, Mrs. Dorothy Preston, scenery is being made for the production by the District Service Team.  Following the London Gang Show example, a few young ladies from the Service Team will be included in the cast this year.  Producers are Alan Peglar and Michael Cooper, with last year's producer, Peter Preston acting as adviser. (East Grinstead Courier 5th February 1970)


Split in the Scouting Movement

The review and outcome of the Boy Scouting Association of 1966/7 (see above) was not welcomed by all members and a rival report, ‘A Boy Scout Black Paper’, was produced in 1970 by The Scout Action Group.  This provided alternative proposals for the development of the association and asked for Troops that wished to continue to follow Baden-Powell's original scheme to be permitted to do so.   In September 1970, The Baden-Powell Scout’s Association (created in 1966/7 with the support of Lady Baden-Powell), broke from The Boy Scout Association, claiming a UK membership of around 5000, spread across 56 Troops.  1st Felbridge did not break away and remained part of The Boy Scout Association.


1st Felbridge Scouts in the 1970’s

In the 1970’s the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop Scout Master was Harry Hallam assisting Ken Hinchliffe (both of whom had also had 1stEast Grinstead allegiances in the late 1950’s).  The following are the memories of Andy MacGregor relating to around this time: I was in Owls, and Mr Hallam and Ken Hinchcliffe were leaders.  The hut always smelled damp and I can remember some superb British bulldog as well as epic timber constructions made out of the 8ft spars.  A beautiful canoe was tied up amongst the roof beams named ‘Heron’ but I never saw it in a river.


I remember a memorable week’s camp near St Ives in Cambridgeshire; I spent the day in the back of a removals van sitting on top of the tents and equipment [the lorry actually belonged to the 1st East Grinstead Scout Troop].  I can still picture in my mind the layout of the campsite after all these years, 1971 or so!  Of course every one knows that 1st Felbridge were the District and County competition Camp winners on many occasions – the East Grinstead lot never came close.  I also still have a scar on the top of my foot caused by some barbed wire whilst foraging for firewood.  Great times.  (Andy MacGregor)


Memories of another 1st Felbridge Scout in the 1970’s

I joined 1st Felbridge Scouts in 1971, having come up from the Cubs.  My first Patrol was Pewit but I later joined Otter Patrol.  I rose to the rank of Assistant Patrol Leader in the Pewit Patrol and Patrol Leader in the Otter Patrol.  Our scarf colour was light blue, like the Cubs.  Our Troop Leader was initially Skip Hallam who was later to be replaced by Dick Poore (Chris Poore’s father).  Skip Hallam refused to wear the new Scout Leader uniform which was a fawn shirt, mid brown trousers and beret and insisted on wearing the old Boy Scout khaki service shirt, corduroy shorts, knee length socks with garters and Baden-Powel hat.  Our Assistant Troop Leader was Faggy Webster (Mark Webster’s father), always known as Faggy because he chain-smoked and his hands always smelt of nicotine when your woggle was being adjusted on parade.  The Venture Scout Assistants were Rikki Argyle, Peter Conquest, Malcolm Moscrop and Peter Simmons [a former 1st East Grinstead Scout who had been awarded the Silver Cross for saving a man from drowning in the sea at Eastbourne, Sussex, in August 1968].


I have several memories of my time with the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop, particularly the camps.  My first Troop camp was at Chiddingly Farm, West Hoathly, and all I remember was that it was just a field and it was cold and wet.  Dad equipped me with wellington boots for the wet grass in the mornings and I was sternly told that Scouts do not wear wellington boots and that plimsoles and shorts should be worn at all time whilst in camp as they and your legs dry out quicker!!!  I was told never to bring wellington or long trousers to camp again.


Another camp was to Broadstone Warren, the Pewit Patrol weekend camp, totally un-supervised.  The whole Patrol packed all the camping kit and our personal kit on a hand cart and we hauled it all the way to Broadstone Warren, and back, by way of the old disused railway line between East Grinstead and Forest Row; then up and over Royal Ashdown Forest Row Golf Club and in the back way to Broadstone, because we’d been told to avoid using any main roads for our own safety.  We camped in a six-man patrol tent, cooked on a wood pit fire and how we did this all in a weekend I don’t know as it must have taken the best part of a day to haul the cart to Broadstone Warren and another day back to the Scout hut.  It was on this trip that I was introduced to a ‘damper’ a flour, water, sugar and salt dough strip wrapped around a de-barked green stick and cooked on the fire embers – great!!          


In 1971 we had Summer Camp (1 week) to St Ives, Cambridgeshire, on the Great Ouse River.  This was a District affair, East Grinstead Troops, Felbridge, Forest Row, Turners Hill & Crawley Down and West Hoathly.  This was a great week away where Kevin Grimwood, myself and a Scout Leader named Jumbo went swimming every morning at 7 am in the river and we were surprised that there were no other takers to join us.  We went to church parade in St Ives in full uniform turn-out; best uniform, polished shoes and Troop flags.  It must have been quite impressive for the normal congregation to see 50 or so Scouts.  By the way, no one was excused from the service.  Pewit Patrol made time to go off and explore the surroundings and we found a large creeper hanging from a big tree above a small valley and that served as our rope swing for the whole week, only giving out the day before we left.  Other activities we got up to were canoeing in ancient canvas covered canoes with wide beams that made paddling for 11/12-year-old very challenging. We also went on hikes around the surrounding areas.  There was also a visit made to Stretham Pumping Station, south of Ely, which was very impressive seeing an old Victorian steam engine still working.


The 1972 Troop Summer Camp (1 week) was to Wisborough Green on the River Arun.  This was a more modest camp of healthy outdoor life, hiking and canoeing around the environs.  Still it was good fun but getting back to basic Scouting with lots of competitions – best meal, best Patrol camp site, knots and lashings in building a ballista to fling a large bolder the furthest, camp fire sing-songs and all the things Scouts would be into.  There was also the Annual District Camp Competition – a weekend camp to see which Troop got bragging rights for the best campers.  We never looked forward to it as it was all ‘spit and polish’ with everything having to be just so and we were all under examiners eyes the whole time.  I don’t think many of us ever enjoyed it as it detracted from real camping.


Besides camping we also did many other activities.  The most enjoyable was canoeing in modern fibre glass canoes and frequently we would head off to Send near Guildford for the day.  We used to canoe up the navigation through Papercourt and Newark locks.  Where the river diverted at Walsham flood gates we paddled around the whole day in the down side flood pool and stream.  This was great for learning canoe control including rafting up, capsize drill, rescues and Eskimo rolls.  The more adventurous of us would paddle into the flood race and telemark across it like real slalom kayakers.  Other times we would paddle off down the river branch that would take you via Wisley into the old Brooklands race track.  In days of old the track was built right across the river but this section of track was demolished during the 2nd World War for invasion reason as Vickers aircraft had its centre here.  It was also where Barns Wallace worked and had his design office.  An interesting side story here was that an old, quite short single-man canvas canoe was found sunk in the deep water at the flood pool.  It was rescued but had very little canvas left on it.  Not knowing who’s it was and how it got there, we asked the lock keeper who lived by the flood gates if it could be taken and he saw no reason why not, so a donation of £1 was made and it became known as Millington’s Quid in memory of the lock keeper.  It was re-canvassed and we used it on many occasions as it paddled as well as any of the fibre glass or plywood canoes we used back then.


The arrival of Rikki and Gerald Argyle in 1973 from Croydon to live in Felbridge (I think they came from 37th Upper Norwood Troop) was a step change and an increase in enthusiasm that was much needed at 1st Felbridge.  Rikki, being 18 years old or so, was young, experienced and adventurous with access to Betsy from one of the Croydon troops, which was an old converted ambulance and could carry a group of about 10.  In Betsy, we could go off at any time for weekend activities and visits.  These included canoeing in borrowed (from the Croydon troops again) fibre glass kayaks as Felbridge only possessed two holed canvas canoes, we also went rock climbing, caving, night hikes (evade or capture affairs over pre-described A to B routes), flying from Biggin Hill and other exciting expeditions.


It goes without saying this youthful impetus and the new-found freedoms offered to us Scouts by Rikki and some of the other Venture Scout Assistants wrangled the old guard troop leaders.  Being young we did not care about any internal politics there might have been at leader level and thrived on these enthusiastic and adventurous freedoms.  It made Scouting even more fun and equipped us with all sorts of new skills and experiences we had not been getting until Rikki’s arrival in the troop.


Some of the 1st Felbridge Troop members with me were: Calvin Apps, Gerald Argyle, Lawrence Barker, Mark Blackwell, Mark Britain, Rodney Drake, Benjamin Gamble, Paul and Kevin Grimwood, Ian Hudson?, Andy Hutt, Chris Lewis, Ian MacGregor, Malcolm and Neil Moscrop, Nick Picket, Chris Poore, Mark and Richard Russell, Dick and Robert Walker, Mark Webster, Nicholas Wise?   (Nick Jones)



The following are the reminiscences of Jon Jones who was born in 1963 and for the duration of his time in the 1st Felbridge Cubs lived at Long Cottage, Imberhorne Lane, East Grinstead, before moving to Corydon, Cranston Road, East Grinstead.  I was in the Cubs at 1st Felbridge in the early 1970’s; from memory, our Akela was Mrs Russell (I think her son was in the Scouts).  I didn’t go up to the Scouts but did become a Sixer for the Yellow Patrol and got to wear a yellow woggle.  I remember there was this funny Cub thing we had to yell – ‘DYB, DYB, DYB, DOB, DOB, DOB’, I now realise that DYB meant Do Your Best and DOB meant Do Our Best, abbreviations supposedly to help us Cubs remember our Promise!


I remember taking my Swimming badge up at Hindleap Warren [Forest Row, Sussex] on Ashdown Forest in their freezing cold outdoor swimming pool!!  I also remember going on a trip to watch the Royal Tournament at Earl’s Court [London], that thing where soldiers or sailors have to dismantle a big gun and get it over a wall and rebuild it.  [At the time Scout Marching Bands participated in the Royal Tournament, although this has now ceased].  I think the trip must have been an annual thing as I remember another time when I decided I didn’t want to go.

(Jon Jones)


1st Felbridge Scout Troop in the 1970’s

Again taken from the 1st Felbridge Scout Group publication that was produced in 1983 in celebration of their 50th anniversary:  Other people involved later and before the current leadership were Pat and Audrey Swinney, Dick and Sheila Poore and through most of the seventies a Cub Scout Leader, Mrs. Elsie Russell.


Dick Poore succeeded Harry Hallam in about 1972 and within two years faced a mass exodus of Scouts defecting to the newly formed 1st Hedgecourt.


Rival Scout Troop established in Felbridge

With the arrival of the Argyles and their more adventurous, exciting and modern outlook on Scouting, it was inevitable that cracks began to appear in the 1st Felbridge Troop.  Here are the words of a Scout caught up in the events that unfolded: In 1974, as a Patrol Leader, along with a few others, we were asked by Rikki [Argyle] if we would be interested in forming a new Troop based in Surrey to be called 1st Hedgecourt.  To a boy we were all up for this if it meant we could continue all the adventures [see above] and in the end about half of the 1st Felbridge Troop defected with us.  If I remember correctly my whole Patrol [Otter] came with me without any coercing on my part.  (Nick Jones)


1st Hedgecourt (Felbridge) Scout Troop, affiliated to the SurreyCounty, was established in 1974 with Ted Argyle as the first Troop Scout Master and his son Richard (known as Rikki) Argyle as the first Scout Master.  They initially held their meetings at the old St John Ambulance Hall in Crawley Down Road, but later moved across the road to the Felbridge Village Hall, where they still meet today.


Although a rival Scout Troop was founded in Felbridge, the 1st Felbridge Troop did not fold but still continued.  One of the new recruits of 1974 was Kevin Holden who joined as a Cub Scout, became a Scout and then went on to become a Venture Scout, remaining with the 1st Felbridge Troop until 1983. 


District Expansion

In 1962, when Edgar Cooper was made District Commissioner, there had been only two Scout Troops in the ‘District’ – 1st East Grinstead and 1st Felbridge.  However, by 1975, the District had expanded and included not only East Grinstead and Felbridge but also Forest Row, Turners Hill & Crawley Down and West Hoathly, with a total of 523 boys, which was more than double the number of 1962.


1st Felbridge Venture Scout Unit formed

In 1978 a Venture Scout Unit for 16-20 year olds was formed at 1st Felbridge Troop, a contemporary Scout, Mark Bennett, recalls ‘I was one of those [Venture Scouts] when it first formed.  Went through Cubs, then Scouts, then Venture Scouts all at 1st Felbridge’.  The Venture Scout Unit at 1st Felbridge was run by David Howland and Julie Eckersley and although nationally the Scout Association had adopted the idea that girls could join the Venture Scouts back in 1976, there is no evidence that the Venture Scout Unit at 1st Felbridge had female members.


Headquarter Renovations

In 1979, the 1st Felbridge Scout Headquarters was extensively renovated, re-roofed and extended.  The work was over-seen by the Scout committee chairman Norman Holden, and was completed to secure the Troop’s premises for the foreseeable future.  


1st Felbridge play host to 1st East Grinstead Scouts

In 1982 the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop played host to arch-rivals 1st East Grinstead Scouts with the loan of their Headquarters in Stream Park after two fires had reduced their own Headquarters in Moat Road, East Grinstead to a burnt-out shell.  With each Scout Troop meeting on different evenings the 1st Felbridge Headquarters played host to both Troops until the 1st East Grinstead Scouts could move back to their new premises, rebuilt in 1983.


First Fire

The first Hall fire occurred on the evening of Friday 27th March 1982 which was caused by an electrical fault in the Scout van parked alongside the premises.  The fire was investigated by the police and it was confirmed to have been an accidental fire.  Considerable damage was caused to the fabric of the building but it was not beyond repair.


The building was extensively damaged but the fire was quickly brought under control and there were no injuries. Four appliances attended. The fire is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault in the Scout van which was parked at the side of the headquarters.  [East Grinstead Courier 1st April 1982]


Second Fire

A second fire occurred at the building during the night of Tuesday 31st March 1982.  On this occasion the cause was arson and there was a forced entry at the rear of the building, with a seat of the fire being within the building.  This was investigated by the local police, it was believed that it was the work of juveniles but the culprits were not traced.  The damage to the premises on this occasion was substantial and a re-build was the only option.  The Troop rose to the challenge under the direction of the Troop Chairman Jeffrey Elwood and Troop Scout Master Tony Wilkins.  The Troop continued to function during this period meeting at various sites, Hackenden [East Grinstead], the home of the ex-Troop Scout Master, Edgar Cooper, the District Headquarters, The Alfred Wagg Centre in Portland Road [East Grinstead] (now the Barbers Shop) and the 1st Felbridge Scouts Headquarters at Stream Park.  [East Grinstead Courier 8th April 1982]


Introduction of Beavers

In 1982 Beaver Scouts were introduced by the Scout Association for children between the ages of 5¾ and 7½ (minimum) and 8½ (maximum), this being now the first and youngest section of the Scout Group.  However, there is no evidence for a Beaver Colony being formed as part of the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop.     


50th Anniversary of the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop

In celebration of 50 years of the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop, a publication, compiled by David Barker, was produced and a re-union party was held at their Headquarters for past and present members.  For a snap shot in time for leaders and the up-dated terminology of their Scout positions, we can turn again to the 1st Felbridge Scout Group publication:



The group is now fortunately blessed with a strong leadership in three sections, backed up by an active committee.  These are:


Mr. Norman Holden          – Group Chairman

Mr. David Clarke              – Scouter in Charge

Mr. Maurice Hare             – Assistant Scout Leader

Mr. Graham Stevenson    – Assistant Scout Leader

Mr. Bryan Bond               – Assistant Scout Leader

Mr. David Barker          – Cub Scout Leader

Mrs. Alison Farrell        – Assistant Cub Scout Leader

Mr. Nigel Sealey           – Cub Scout Instructor

Mr. David Howland       – Venture Scout Leader

Miss Julie Eckersley     – Assistant Venture Scout Leader



Traditionally 1st Felbridge Scout Group has welcomed boys from a wide area.  In addition to North End and Felbridge the group has a strong contingent in Crawley Down.  Boys may join the Cub Pack from the 8th birthday onwards.  The Scout Troop is open to boys aged between 11 and 16.  Our Venture Scout Unit is open to young ladies as well as young men between the ages of 16 and 20.


On the financial side, the group is supported by fund raising events organised by the committee and membership levies.  The committee also runs a “100 Club” featuring a minor quarterly draw and a large prize every 12 months.  This club is a way of past and present supporters keeping in touch with the group and members will be invited to social functions.


From the 50th anniversary publication it would suggest that although Beaver Scouts had been introduced to the Scouting movement in 1982, the 1st Felbridge Troop had not yet had any takers as there is no mention of Beaver Scout leaders in their leadership list. 


The re-union party was well attended by past and present members of the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop and some of the Troop’s former Scouts in attendance included: Ron Polhill, Brian Roberts and Peter Sinden (from the later 1930’s and early 1940’s).  The event was reported in the local newspaper as follows:


About 90 people attended including the district officials, members of the Troop executive, and Mr Cecil Medcalf, founder of the Troop in 1933, who now lives in Fairlawn Crescent, East Grinstead.  Meetings were originally held in a garage in Rowplatt Lane, Felbridge and then at St John’s Vicarage, before moving to their present headquarters.


End of an Era

The 1st Felbridge Scout Troop had been formed in 1933 and on 11th May 1964 the Troop was registered with the Charity Commission.  The Troop continued for a further twenty five years but was served notice on their Headquarters in StreamPark in 1989.  This was due to a series of factors, the first being the death of Douglas Stern in 1977 and the sale of part of the Stern estate, including the site on which the Scout Headquarters stood, to Cyril Jones.  The second factor was the personal circumstances the Jones family found themselves in 1989.  In the words of Martin Jones, the son of Cyril, ‘When my parents separated ‘The Mooring’ [the Jones’s family home] was sold to the house builder Scanda Hus.  The site that the Scout hut stood on, I believe, was sold separately to another builder (on which was built the bungalow [Touchwood]).  By that time the former Olde Felbridge Hotel nursery [market garden] had become the [site of the] retirement home [Felwater Court] so planning was unlikely to be an issue.  Whilst Douglas Stern could afford to be philanthropic my father could not and the lease was terminated.  I recall it made him very unpopular for a while’.

Without a Scout Headquarters and no likelihood of finding another in the foreseeable future, the 1st Felbridge Scouts had no option other than to close.  Some Scouts joined the breakaway Troop of 1st Hedgecourt (Felbridge) and some amalgamated with the 1st East Grinstead Troop.  1st Felbridge (3rd East Grinstead) then lay dormant until 1990 when it formally closed, 57 years after being founded.  However, the 1st Felbridge Scouts were not removed from the Charity Register until 29th September 1992, the reason for removal given as: ‘Ceased to exist’, by then 59 years after being formed.



My grateful thanks are extended to the following people for their memories of the 1st Felbridge Scout Troop: Mark Bennett, Carole Cooper (née Hallam), Clive Harte-Lovelace, Kevin Holden, Jon Jones, Martin Jones, Nick Jones, Andy MacGregor, Tony Marden, Midge Orpen, Marjorie Payne, Pat Payne, Peter Sinden and Neil Symon; past 1st Felbridge Scout, Brian Roberts; and past resident, Dora Wheeler.  Also to Peter Ford, Heritage Research Officer of the Scout Association, heritage@scouts.org.uk; June Bennett for the loan of her copy of 1st Felbridge Scout Group, 1933-1983; newspaper articles in the Felbridge Archive including: The Times, Surrey Mirror & County Post, Kent and Sussex Courier, East Grinstead Observer and the East Grinstead Courier; and the 1st East Grinstead Scout web site www.1st-east-grinstead-scouts-centenary.co.uk


SJC 01/18