THE BEGINNING OF SCOUTING Page last updated 04/10/2016
As you're probably aware, the Scout Movement was started by Lord Robert Baden-Powell. You can get a detailed history of the movement by clicking on the link above which takes you to the Scout Associations 'Scoutbase' history web page but in brief, when he was a Major in the British Army, he had written a book called 'Aids to Scouting' to train troops. He became famous after defending the town of Mafeking with very few men in the Boer War and on his return to England, found that people outside of the military were reading and learning from his book. He was persuaded by those running youth groups like The Boys Brigade and various Boys Clubs, to rewrite the book for younger people and after a 'trial' camp at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, published 'Scouting for Boys' in six parts in 1908. Using it as a manual, boys formed themselves into patrols with adult leaders and experts to teach them the skills. Hundreds of groups registered with the publishers and it soon became too much for them to handle so the Scout Association was set up in 1910 with over 100,000 members already on its books and B-P retired from the army to become its leader.
Initially, he envisaged the movement would be for boys aged 11-18 but as early as 1909, girls wanted to join. He was in favour of the idea but Edwardian society was not ready for boys and girls to mix in such adventurous activities, so the Guide Movement was set up by his wife Olave and sister Agnes. Another problem was identified by leaders saying it was difficult to teach and mix such a wide range of ages who were at different stages of their physical development, so B-P developed a training guide for 'Junior Scouts' in 1914, but refined it in 1916 with the 'Wolf Cubs' Handbook based around the stories of the Jungle Book written by his friend Rudyard Kipling. By 1917, some of the original scouts were now too old to be in the movement but still wanted to be involved, so B-P introduced a scheme for 'Senior Scouts' which was renamed 'Rover Scouts' a year later which had no upper age limit.
The exact origins of the Eynsham Scout Group are probably lost in the mist of time, as there are many conflicting memories and reports.
It is thought that there were possibly two groops of scouts in the village following the Scouting For Boys manual.
Ex Scout Jack Green remembered the St Leonards Church Organist and Choirmaster Mr Owens forming a group in around 1914 or 1915. He took the Scouts camping. He also told The Oxford Mail in 1981 that he though the group was started in May 1917 by Ken Carter from Oxford and with help from the St Leonards Church Vicar, they started a troop with 28 boys, most of them were from the church choir.
Research by Richard Smith in 1986 states that the Eynsham Troop was formed twice. Once in 1914 when it was attached to the 19th Oxford Group, and again in 1918. Unfortunately we have not subsequently been able to confirm the 1914 date with documentary evidence and also as you can see here, other stories we have been told conflict this date. The official registration document of the Eynsham Troop in 1918 is shown below.
Mrs Sheppard who formed the Eynsham Cubs in 1922 when she was Miss Rosemary Oakley, recalled that Mr Owen, the church organist, temporarily looked after the scouts after its inception and Jack Green took it over.
Don Holloway told us in a letter that he remembers seeing an article in Scouting Magazine reporting that the 1st Eynsham Troop was the first Scout Band to be allowed to march down Whitehall in London in 1916. The Scout Association holds a card in its archives recording that 'The Eynsham Scout Band, formed in 1916, was reputed to be the first scout troop band to march through the streets of London.'
Samuel Harris remembered joining scouts during the war in late 1916 or early 1917. He was a Patrol Leader in Beaver Patrol and left to join the Navy in 1919. He recalled that Scout Master Rhodes liked his drink so the troop was not particularly successful. They used to meet in the Club Room up stairs of the Railway Inn on the corner of Station Road and Acre End Street (opposite The Swan). Sam remembered that also in the Troop were Jack Green, Bert Mumford and Ben Tovey (who went to New Zealand). He remembered that Miss Dorothy Rippon used to send him The Scout Magazine via Mrs Dormer who worked with her in Abingdon. They learnt first aid and other things from the magazine. The boys saved pennies and half-pennies for their uniform although most could only afford a hat and a broom stick was used for a pole. He also mentioned that The Cruickshank girls were the only Guides in the village.
One of the 'old boys' at Bosses Night once told a story that the scouts used to meet at a tree in Monks Wood. Tink Sawyer and Chris Biggers said they were in Scouts before Boss joined.
Possibly the earliest documented mention of an Eynsham Troop was found in the Youlbury Scouting Museum. It has copies of The Scout Gazette which reported that on 23rd August 1913 there was a church parade with Scoutmaster MacDonald of the 1st Eynsham Hall Troop with the 20th Oxford, Ramsden and Hayley Scouts who were camping during a bank holiday weekend at East End Farm near North Leigh. David Mason confirmed that his family had been involved with scouting from its early days. His Grandmother Lady Evelyn Mason formed the Eynsham Hall Troop and later became District and County Commissioner.
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In 1918 the Eynsham Scouts registered with the local Boy Scouts Association and became an official troop. On 29th August 1918 The Scoutmaster Mr K. V. Carter registered 24 boys in the 1st Eynsham Troop which met at the Church School which was on the corner of Mill Street and Newlands Street in Eynsham. He had held a warrant since as a Scoutmaster with the 10th Oxford Group in December 1911 and in 1913 and was with the 19th Oxford Troop. According to this document, the Troop was officially registered with the Boy Scouts Association as number 3160 on 1st October 1919. We believe he was assisted by the St Leonards Church Choirmaster Mr Owens.
It is also documented that they met in the Infants School and in a room in Mill Street.
The Eynsham Boy Scouts Association Accounts book for 1918 is difficult to read but worth trying to decipher the handwriting which is why we have also included a copy of the book here in case we've read it incorrectly and you can put us right. There is some fascinating detail and is a great slice of both life in the village and how the group developed. The 1918 committee were President - E C Galton, Vice Presidents Rev W N Bricknell & FF Vincent, Treasurer - Dr R W Cruickshank and Secretary - F G Owen. Also on the committee were C E Calcutt, E Sawyer, P Sander and G Anderson.
In September 1918, the groups first donations were of £5.0.0. from E Cameron of Newland House and £1.1.0. from R W Cruickshank of The Shrubbery followed by Lady Bucknill of St Micheals who donated 10s/6d. In December donations were received from Mrs J Puine - The Lodge, Mr J Findall - The Haven, Major Oakley - The Gables, Mr Anderson - The Bungalow, Mrs Greatrise - Victoria Cottage, Mr Shillingford - Acre End House, Mr Cautle and Mrs Weaving of Newland Street. Although the writing is difficult to read, they range from £1.1.0. to 1 shilling and were instrumental is starting off the troop. Many more donated over the coming years and is a great social document of recognisable names from the village.
Ray Appleton remembered that his father joined the 1st Eynsham Scouts in 1919. His family had come back from Ontario in Canada where they had gone to be settlers and came to Eynsham and worked in the Butchers shop owned by George Webb. His dad remembered being in the Bugle and Drum Band and that the troop had a hand pumped fire cart which they used to operate.
Samuel Harris remembers his brother Billy and Mr Perkins really got the scouts going and organised a fife and drum band.
George 'Boss' Perkins joined the Group in 1919. He had been shot in the leg at the Battle of Mons and returned to England to look after Major Oakleys horses at The Gables in Queen Street whom he had served under during the war. The Troop had had a few bugles from the start and 'Boss' soon turned them into a sizable Bugle and Drum Band. Within a year of the troop officially starting he turned the Bugle and Drum Band into a Fife and Drum Band as fifes were easier to play. A report a newspaper on 16th January 1959 on his death said it was the first Scouts Band in the Country.
The accounts show donations and subscriptions from Rev W N Bricknell - The Vicarage, Mr Smallhorn - Willow Bank, E Galton - Newlands House, Mr Edgar Sawyer - Newlands Street, Mr Chas Calcutt - The Square, Mr P Saunder - Abbey Farm, Mr F F Vincent - The Holt, Mr J G Cunliffe - Barmand Lodge, Mrs Deane - Twelve Acre, Mr Marshall - The Chesneys, ranging from 7s/6d to £1.11.6. They had a bank account and received 3s/3d interest in June and 4s in December. The North Leigh Black and White Concert Party did a show for the Scouts on 31st December which brought in £12.5.6, less Tax of £2.15.6 and expenses of £1.7.9. making a profit of £8.2.3. The end of year balance was £26.3.6. Payments were made by Scouts towards uniforms in 1919 of £10.12.8. The expenditure for 1918-1919 is shown as £1.0.6. for badges, cards, patrol and S.M. badges purchased by Mr Owens and Half Camp Expenses of £1.10.0. with Petty Cash 8s/6d. Messer's Faynes & Payne were paid £15.0.0 cash on account for Outfits and a further £14.18.4. balance due was paid, which totalled £37.17.4.
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