Happy 110th Birthday 1st St Neots Scouts!
On this day, 110 years ago, a Group of gentleman came together to form, what was then called, St Neots & District Boy Scouts. Since then, the Group has gone through decades of history and is now currently providing Scouting for over 100 young people in the town.
Here is a snippet of the Group’s history from 1910 until 1920:
> This decade saw the formation of the Scout Committee for St Neots covering “Eynesbury, St Neots and neighborhood”. This committee would oversee and start a number of Troops but it’s primary focus was St Neots Scouts.
> Possibly the first ever photo of the Group shows a procession in remembrance of King George VII who died in May 1910. The photo shows policemen, soldiers, postmen and then Scouts at the very back.
> The Troop supported the town and the war effort during WW1 with 40-45 Scouts and ex-Scouts serving in the Army increasing to 58 “with the colour” by 1915.
> It is recorded that during the war, the Troop lost three members. Scoutmaster and Private Charles W. Saddington in May 1917, Leading Signalman William Gill in August 1917 and Private W. A. Smith in March 1918. It is expected that more current and ex-members of the Troop also died.
> From 1915 – 1920, the Troop was not active as Scoutmaster Saddington and his assistants had gone to the front.
Here is a snippet of the Group’s history from 1920 until 1930:
> On the 11th May 1920, almost exactly 10 years after starting, St Neots Scouts appear to formally restart after World War One and lots of gratitude is given to Scoutmaster Saddington for his efforts in Scouting and the War.
> The Scouts had their own drum and bugle band made up of 4 drummers and 8 buglers. This band would lead parades through the town and take part in Scout competitions.
> In 1924, St Neots Scouts took part in a Annual Rally with other local Scouts. This saw 164 Scouts meet on the Market Square and parade to Priory Park. St Neots Troop conducted a “smart display of physical drill”, lost out in the Tug of War semi-final to Ramsey Troop and listened to a speech by the then Earl of Sandwich, George Montagu.
Here is a snippet of the Group’s history from 1930 until 1940:
> We don’t know a lot of this period and Scouting in St Neots as we have no records or meeting minutes however a few key moments in history are still with us.
> In 1936, the Group was granted £50 from the King George’s Jubilee Trust Fund. This grant was for the build of the Scout Hall in Bedford Street. £50 would be the same as a month’s wage in 1936 and is around £2,500 in today’s money!
> We believe the Scout Hall was built between 1936 and 1939, the outbreak of WW2. The hall would have consisted of the main hall building with partition walls inside providing a Leader’s Office and a Toilet. Coal stoves were the main source of heating in both rooms and the main hall. Both the brickwork of the partition walls and vents for the heating are still there now. Once the Hall was built, it was almost immediately requisitioned by the Government and our first use of the building was not until 1945.
> During the early stages of WW2 in 1939, Scouts would have been seen in uniform across the town assisting with communications and welcoming evacuees from London and other major cities.
Here is a snippet of the Group’s history from 1940 until 1950:
> It is understood the Group did not stop during the war however activities very much slowed down with Leaders and Committee members going to war or looking after evacuees in their own homes.
> In the 1939, the Scout Hall was requisitioned by the Government for the War Effort until 1945 as it was used as a base for local Air Raid Wardens.
> When the Scout Hall was derequisitioned, both Cubs and Scouts started to meet again. On the first Scout meeting in April 1945, Scouts worked on their ‘falling in’ discipline, building patrol log books and practiced for an inter-patrol competition.
> In the late 1940s, 3 of the Cubs moved to the Scout Troop and were called Ernest, Paul and Michael Miles, 3 of the famous St Neots Quads. Their older brother, Gordon, was the Assistant Scout Master at the time. The quads were national celebrities at the time consistently known as the ‘longest surviving quadruplets’.
Here is a snippet of the Group’s history from 1950 until 1960:
> There is little in the our history books for this period. In addition, nothing major happened across the rest of UK Scouting.
> In 1950, 40 years after the Group was formed, the Group’s name changed from 7th Hunts Boy Scouts to 1st St Neots Scout Group which has remained the same since. It is expected that the name was changed due to organisational restructures in the District where Huntingdon District became Hinchingbrooke District.
Here is a snippet of the Group’s history from 1960 until 1970:
> In 1960, 1st St Neots celebrated it’s 50th birthday with a ‘mammoth’ camp and campfire at Monks Hardwick, Priory Hill. Over 125 people attended including current and ex-members of the Group. The weekend also included the Cubs and Scouts putting on a display of Scouting activities for those attending.
> In the late 1960’s, a number of big changes happened in UK Scouting which affected 1st St Neots including:
> The word ‘Boy’ was dropped from the name. The Boy Scouts Association became The Scout Association. However women were still only allowed to be Cubs Leaders, not Cubs, Scouts or Scout Leaders.
> Wolf Cubs were renamed Cub Scouts.
> Boy Scouts were renamed Scouts.
> Senior and Rover Scouts were renamed Venture Scouts.
> Uniform for Scouts was updated to allow long trousers rather than shorts as berets instead of campaign hats.
Here is a snippet of the Group’s history from 1970 until 1980:
> In the late 1960’s to early 1970’s, the committee discussed at great length the potential to extend the Scout Hall to provide more storage. Plans were drafted however a number of local authority and central Government grants were refused as the Group did not meet the target age range for grant recipients (14-18 years old). Eventually funds were raised.
> The Scout Hall was extended from the mid-late 1970’s and included improved toilet facilities and additional storage space. This extension stood until 2016 when it was demolished to make way for a larger extension.
Here is a snippet of the Group’s history from 1980 until 1990:
> In 1982, Beavers started across the Country after a successful trial in Northern Ireland. In 1984, 1st St Neots opened it’s first Beaver Colony which has being running every since. In 1986, Beavers became an official section of The Scout Association.
> In 1983, David Jasper, or Delta as known to most, became a Helper at the Group and by 1989, he was a Leader. Since then, Dave has been Scout Leader and Group Scout Leader and remains with us as a Section Assistant with Cubs. In recognition of his excellent and long service, Dave was awarded the Award for Merit in 2007. Both Dave’s son and grandson have since been with our Group.
> In 1986, the Scouts are photographed outside St Mary’s Church, Eaton Socon as part of the St George’s Day Parade. Second from right, you can see Dave Jasper who was a helper at the time and far right is Jack Loader. More on Jack tomorrow.
> In the late 1980’s, the Beaver Colony had their own float in the St Neots Carnival. There were dressed up as Cowboys and Indians with a scene set to be like American Indian settlement.
> Other photos from the 1980s show Cubs and Scouts attending various camps although the location and exact years are not known. Do you remember these?
Here is a snippet of the Group’s history from 1990 until 2000:
> In 1991, Scouts became co-educational meaning that girls were now able to join at all levels including Cubs, Scouts and all Leader roles.
> In the mid-90s, a team of Scouts won the District 5-a-side football competition. In the first photo (back-middle) is Paul Jasper, who is Dave Jasper’s son. Also in the photo (back-right) is Paul Haynes, or Omega as he is most known. Omega has been with the Group since he was a Cub in the 80s. Over the years, Omega has been Assistant Scout Leader and Assistant Group Scout Leader. He is still with the Group as Assistant Scout Leader with Rowley Scouts.
> In 1996, Keith Horn signed his son up to join the Beaver Colony and then became a Leader. In 1997, Skip, as he is most known, took the Scouts to his first Summer Camp at Phasel’s Wood. Since then, Keith has been our Scout Leader and is now our Group Scout Leader, looking after our 28 Leaders and Helpers and 8 Young Leaders.
> In the second photo, you can see Skip (far left), Omega (far right) and Jack Loader, or Kim as he was most known (centre). Kim was a Leader with 1st St Neots since 1945 until the late 1990’s. Kim was a much loved Leader in the Group attending almost every Camp held. In the photo he is wearing the Silver Wolf around his neck, the highest award and gift available to Adults in Scouting, awarded directly by the Chief Scout. The photo is taken at Kim’s retirement celebration and he is holding a gift showing the 4 stages of Scout uniform worn in the 90 years of Scouting. More photos show Kim’s time with the Scouts.
Here is a snippet of the Group’s history from 2000 until 2010:
> In 2001 after a full review, our uniform underwent an overhaul. The existing military-style uniform was replaced with a uniform more useful to modern day Scouting with activity trousers, jumpers for the Beavers and Cubs and a similar smart-style shirt for Scouts, Explorers, Network and Leaders.
> In 2007 for the Centenary of Scouting, our Cubs and Scouts kick started the celebrations by attending a District Centenary Camp held at Huntingdon Racecourse. A few familiar faces can be seen in the Group photo including a young Adam Wright (second Scouts from left, back row). This was his first Camp as a Scout with 1st St Neots after moving from Crewe and Adam is now the Scout Leader for our Rowley Scouts.
> Later in the year, our Beavers celebrated by planting rose bushes at retirement home close to our Scout Hut. Beaver Leader and Skip’s wife can be seen helping the Beavers in the photo.
> In the Summer of 2007, Scouting continued it’s celebration by hosting the World Scout Jamboree in Chelmsford, Essex. Our Scout Troop headed to Belchamps for Summer Camp and attended the Jamboree as day visitors.
> In 2009, our Beavers and cubs attended the first of many Fun Days held at Gilwell Park, Scouts Headquarters. These Fun Days allow Beavers and Cubs to experience activities and skills that they wouldn’t normally have the ability to.
Here is a snippet of the Group’s history from 2010 until now:
> In 2015, 2 of our Explorers, Molly Gregorious and Will Hewlett headed off as representatives of our Group and Country to the World Scout Jamboree in Japan. They many other Scouts, made new friends, took part in lots of activities and stay with local families in Tokyo. As experience, no one could forget!
> In 2016, work started to again increase the size of the Scout Hut. After lots of planning, preparation, setbacks and hard-work, the extended Scout Hut finally opened in 2018 thanks for the efforts led by John Routledge and Ivan Hewlett. The new Scout Hut gave the Group more space to run activities, better toilets and better kitchen facilities.
> After the Scout Hut was extended and with a long waiting list, the Group looked to provide Scouting to more young people in the town. After lots of hard work, a new Beaver Colony, Cub Pack and Scout Troop was started taking our total numbers up and over 100. All the sections were named after the Gentlemen who started the Group in 1910.
> In 2019, our Scouts headed off to CamJam, a local international Jamboree held at Huntingdon Racecourse. The camp of 20 Scouts was led by Martyn and Omega with Adam taking on the role of Sub-Camp Leader looking after 500+ with two of our own Cub Leaders, Catherine and Jess and parent helper Danielle.
> In the same week of CamJam, Molly, now a Leader with Cubs, again headed off to the World Scout Jamboree but this time in the USA as part of the Service Team. Again, she met many friends and had an experience no one could forget!