A short history of Scouting
2nd Edgware in 90 Years
In October 1929 Rector Lea asked for a leader to start a Scout troop, and the arrival of Mr A J Martin (known as ‘Chief’) was his answer. The Scout troop was formed out of the then existing Boys’ Club, choir and Sunday school of St. Margaret’s Church. Mrs Moss of Hendon, who previously had worked with Chief there, came to start the Cub Pack. This early start of the church-Scout connection continued for the next 40 years, involving later the Children’s church, Covenanters, with Scouts at 14 years old attending Confirmation class.
The first Troop meeting was on Wednesday 9th October in Truth Hall, next to the Church. It was proposed our scarves be Oxford Blue and Cambridge Blue, however these were unobtainable at the time so grey scarves were worn temporarily. At the start there were two patrols, the Bulldogs and the Lions.
A couple of years later a First World War army hut was offered to the Scouts by Rector Lea if they raised the vast sum, at the time, of one hundred pounds to move it to the present site. With a lot of effort this was managed, and we had our own home.
In 1930 the first camp saw the Patrol Leaders under canvas through rain, hail and snow. Better weather was forecast in June for the first Troop camp, which built up to the first summer camp in Guernsey. This must have been a terrific adventure for the Scouts, many of whom had not been away from home for any length of time before, let alone abroad. The fortnight was spent engaged in large amounts of exploring, hiking, sightseeing and cricket matches against other troops camping in the area.
In 1932 the band was started as a gift by Mrs Whitehouse, the lady who gave the churchyard wall, and the bugle band first played at the wall dedication. Later the band was devolved to a full brass band which has played at the Albert Hall, Gang Shows at Golders Green Hippodrome, the Mansion House, Horse Guards Parade and a tattoo at Fleet, Hampshire; as well as at church parade every last Sunday of the month, even during the war.
A year later the temporary grey scarves were replaced with red and black – the very same we wear today.
The Group survived the war in 1939, and helped with indoor shelter erection, waste paper collection, Grow for Victory, and completed a stint of 3000 hours of fire watching during the Blitz of 1942.
During the war our group newsletter ‘Yoicks’ was started, originally this was to keep leaders on the frontline up to date with group activities, as well as share the war stories they wrote back home with. Despite war paper shortages forcing Yoicks to stop after 9 issues, it was revived in 1952 and became a main source of communication with families and friends for the next 50 years.
The Group came out of the war well, but sadly our headquarters did not. It was accidentally burned down in May 1945. The insurance arranged by the Rector, unbeknown to the Scouts, allowed us to buy a further hut, our headquarters until 1987.
By the end of the decade both Rector Lea and Chief said their goodbyes to the Group as they moved away. Both had been monumental in establishing 2nd Edgware. The reigns were now handed to Arthur Pitcher (Bosun) who continued to be a terrific driving force behind the Group.
The 1950s saw our coming of age. With increasing numbers the Cub Pack split into two – the Seeonee Pack and the Waingunga Pack. A few years down the line, the Scouts followed with Martin and Wilson Troops. Meanwhile, the Band made their first (of seven) appearances in Ralph Reader’s London Gang Shows, and the Group become District Sports champions for five years running.
Highlights of the ’60s include Rosetree (the Rovers and Seniors European expedition to 5 countries), the Mohawk Rover Crew cooking for a hotel restaurant, and in 1964 the Band appearing in Ralph Reader’s London Gang Show – which was then chosen for the Royal Variety Show and performed to Queen Elizabeth II. That same year we recorded our highest ever membership of 154. That was 44 more than the next largest Group in the District.
However, not all Groups across the country were so doing so well. In 1967 Scouting was given a new look and structure. Keeping in line we opened our Venture Unit (replacing Seniors and Rovers) and an unofficial Mohawk Rover Club continued scouting for young adults. However the biggest change was around new sponsorship rules, and as the Group was never officially sponsored by the church, the ‘St. Margaret’s’ was dropped from our name, although the involvement between church and Scouts continued, as did church parades.
In the decade building up to our Golden Jubilee we swapped the summer fetes for Christmas Bazaars, held our first family camp, and the band performed in the last London Gang Show.
In the 1980’s, necessity dictated that before the second fell down, we needed to set in motion a project to build a new headquarters. The Group committee had foresight in the early 1960s to establish a building fund, and so to add to that, with seven further years of intensive fundraising and planning, matched with a tremendous enthusiasm by everyone associated with the Group and the 7th Edgware Guides, 9th May 1987 saw the opening of the new Scout and Guide Centre. Chief Scout Major-General Michael Walsh opened the new building before many hundreds of uniformed and invited guests. What a day to remember!
The success of the Centre attracted an increasing number of young people to join the Guides and Scouts. In June 1988 we opened our Beaver colony, for boys aged between six and eight. Three years later, The Scout Association welcomed girls into all sections.
Throughout the 90s there was a lot of change. The costs incurred by the building of the new headquarters were, incredibly, paid off by 1992. The opportunity to work the refreshment stands at Wembley Stadium made a substantial contribution to this effort. Co-operation with local Guide Association units had strengthened in 1993 with arrival from St. Lawrence’s of the 2nd Edgware Brownies.
Barn dances, and annual events such as the plant sale and the increasingly successful pig roasts all made significant contributions to Group funds, while regular bookings and hosting Bo-Peep Nursery has ensured that the Group remained financially secure.
Change, of course, involves not just the introduction of the new, but the loss of the old. The decade saw the demise of the jumble sale, the Christmas bazaar and regular monthly church parades, as well as the traditional march to the church from the headquarters. Towards the end, the Venture unit, after many years of being the only single group unit in the District, found itself unable to continue.
The biggest loss, however, was that of Arthur Pitcher in 1997.
From 1999 – 2008 we were without a Group Scout Leader and struggling to involve parents. With volunteers in short supply, many group events and fundraisers faded out. Around 2007 the Cub Pack closed and the Scout Troop merged with the 3rd Edgware, who were in a similar position to us.
Despite this struggle, the group continued to offer new opportunities to young people in Edgware. Perhaps the most special of those opportunities came to Rickesh, a 2nd Edgware Cub, who was chosen to represent The Scout Association in wishing The Queen a happy 80th birthday at Windsor Castle!
Another special occasion was the Group’s 75th birthday, celebrated with a camp and socials.
By 2010 things were starting to turn around. After the 3rd Edgware merger ended we recruited on a handful of new leaders from the Group. We also had a new GSL, a new Akela who re-opened the Cub Pack and a new District offering a fresh line of support.
Slowly the wheels were back in motion and the older Cubs moved up to join the (less than five) Scouts each week. Soon enough we were back camping, hiking and joining in District competitions.
We have also started many new traditions, ranging from joint narrow boat camps with 1st Finchley each year, to running Cubs Take-Over Weeks (usually involving throwing pies at each other), and we put all of this into our term highlights videos on our YouTube. Also, thanks to the quick first aid skills of two Cubs in 2017, we added two more royals to our list and another TV interview.
In October 2019 we celebrated our 90th birthday. As part of the years celebrations our Cubs and Scouts joined in activities and games exploring how past generations of the group enjoyed scouting, and reflected on how far we’ve come. There’s a long way to go yet…
- “Chief” A.J. Martin
- A history of Scouting in Barnet
- Harrow District Flitch – list of winners 1933-64
- A history of Scouting in the UK (The Passing Years factsheet)
- CBBC Newsround | Sabrina and Daniel: We saved our Grandma’s life
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