Brief History of Our Group (9th Reigate (Lower Kingswood) Scout Group)
Compiled by Geoff Dunstan based on information supplied by John Stoneman in 2010, and supplemented with information taken from “A Century of Village Memories” (By Judy Parfitt and Joyce Arnold 1993) and personal memories.
The Early & War Years (1938-1948)
The Curate in Charge at the Church of the Wisdom of God at Lower Kingswood, Revd John ten Bruggenkate, aka Rev. Tenby approached Reigate Scout District with a view to starting a Scout Troop in Lower Kingswood. During 1938, Ron Stoneman was asked to honour the request and a Troop was formed with Ron as Scoutmaster & Rev Tenby as Group Scoutmaster. The group was thus started on 3rd June 1938 and registered as controlled group No.19520 on 23rd June 1938. They met in a loft over the garage at Church house. The troop attended its first church parade at The Wisdom of God Church in July 1938. The troop flag was presented in September 1938 by Dr Freshfield and the union flag. A new troop flag was presented by John Stoneman on the group’s 60th anniversary in 1998.
Meetings were held in a room over Church House garage in Buckland Road. Tony Harris-Maunder was Troop leader plus a good following of boys that were formed into Patrols – Eagles, Peacocks, Woodpeckers and Peewits. Tony attended a Kings Scout parade at Windsor Castle in the 9th first year. The flagpole that currently stands in the scout hut was cut down on Colley Hill by the troop and carried ceremoniously back to the hut!
During the war, Rev Tenby devised a wide game involving disguises and detection to encourage the boys to be alert. He had dressed as a chimney sweep complete with brushes and a blackened face. However, the plan backfired when he was spotted by local road workers who noticed that he had omitted to put soot behind his ears so was reported and arrested by the Police as a spy! In September 1939 the troop assisted with evacuation arrangements primary as message runners and any general support required.
The first Summer Camp was held at Elmer Sands, Sussex in 1938 (or 9) and the troop managed to continue camping throughout WWII using sites at Mount Hill, Grubb Wood and the Reigate Hill Fort. A proposed camp at Worthing in 1940 was cancelled due to wartime restrictions within 10 miles of the coast. During the war, camps were held more locally at West Horsley and Walton on the Hill until in 1945 they ventured to Bognor Regis, in 1946 to Bexhill and in 1947 to Seaford.
Adrian Boult was a Scoutmaster with the 9th and his father of worked at Redhill Aerodrome. This enabled a flying trip in an Airspeed Oxford plane for the scouts with the father piloting, during which they flew very low over the village (generating several complaints)
A Wolf Cub Pack was opened in 1940 with about 40 boys.
During the war, the Church Hall was built and a number of meetings were held there, including several Gang Shows.
On VE Day in 1945, the scouts built a large bonfire on Colley hill and were able to observe similar fires across the County. It was reported that the hair of the scoutmaster, Syd Nightingale caught fire in the process!
A supporters club was started in 1945 with a view to raising funds for a scout hut. Fundraising in 1947 included a gang show which was repeated at Kingswood Manor and raised £185.
The Mid 1900’s (1949-1970)
Shortly after this Rose Cottage (the cottage next to the new Headquarters) was condemned & demolished. A Rover Den was erected near the site of the cottage but was mysteriously burned down a few years later. The Rover crew consisted of 20 – 30 young men some of whom were doing national service. They supported the troop at camps and later carried out maintenance on the hut.
A Patrol from the 9th came within one point of winning the County Camping competition in 1950.
In 1951, the Troop produced 5 King’s Scouts in 1951 & they went together to Greenwich Naval College for the presentation ( At the time and for a while 5 was a District Record/First)
Then in 1952 two of the King’s Scouts attended the First Caribbean Jamboree in Jamaica.
And in, 1964 the HQ was turned through 90 degrees to its current position & a new Church House was built on the Group’s parade ground & garden (which had been used during the War).
In 1949 a new Headquarters was purchased for £488-1s-6d & was erected adjacent & parallel to the recreation ground hedge. It was opened by Lady Strakosck.
A patrol from the 9th were finalists in a county camping competition in 1950 coming within one point of winning but receiving a trophy given by Vauxhall Motors which hangs on the scout hut wall to this day.
The Troop produced 5 King’s Scouts in 1951 & they went together to Greenwich Naval College for the presentation. (It is reputed that 5 at one time was a District first).
In 1947, Harold Leppard (affectionately known as “H”) attended the world scout Jamboree in Moisson in France. In 1952, two of the King’s Scouts, one of which was John Stoneman ) later to become known as the Governor, or Guv), attended the First Caribbean Jamboree in Jamaica. They were impressed by the music there & formed a band called the “Cobwebs” with three former scouts.
In 1964 the wooden HQ was turned through 90 degrees to its current position and raised to sit on the low wall foundations that can be seen today. A new Church House was built on the Group’s parade ground & garden. The large garden with the cottage had been used during the War as an allotment as our effort in the Dig for Victory Campaign where the scouts grew vegetables and gave some to the East Surrey Hospital.
Harold Leppard continued to influence the scout troop for many years with his great enthusiasm and experience and humour and became the Assistant District Commissioner for Reigate Scouts.
The 70’s (1970-1980)
In the 1970s the Scout Association went through a fundamental restructure following the “Advanced Party” report. This resulted in a new uniform, programme and the scout law was reduced from 10 to 7 points. The group adapted and the troop was run by relatively young men who had come through the groups as boys, including Ian Parfitt etc.
Summer camps were held annually including Bognor Regis 1954 and 1958 – Pevensey1956, Mevagissy – 1955 & 57, Braceland, Forest of Dean – 1969, Billingshurst – 1971, Poxwell, Dorset 1968 & 72, Steep Marsh, Petersfield – 1978. Those near suitable water enabled the boys to establish a taste for water sports including canoeing etc.
As the leaders left, the troop declined in numbers and struggled with a string of valiant individual leaders who were unable to build and maintain consistent troop strength. Since 1982, the scout troop has held occasional weekend camps only with only muted interest being displayed by a dwindling number of scouts and various scout leaders until 2014.
In the mid-1970s, Clare White (later to become Franklin) joined the cub pack as a Guide helper and thereafter she steadfastly ran the cub section and steadily held numbers between 15 and 25. It has consistently held a weekend camp each year at venues where the children sleep outdoors in tents and since the 1990s this has been complemented by an annual pack holiday – usually during the autumn/winter – where the children sleep indoors. The venues have included Walton Firs, Broadstone Warren, Bentley Copse, Park Wood near Brighton, Boiderhurst, Gilwell Park, Park Farm in Banstead, Downe, etc. Indeed the pack has been the consistent core of the group.
The 80’s and 90’s (1980-2000)
In 1979, Geoff Dunstan joined the group first as a helper, then ACSL and in 1989 moved to the district team. Val Dunstan, who had been the village Brownie leader for almost 10 years, replaced him as ACSL. Geoff continued with a supporting role in the group whilst being ADC (Scouts), then DC, then ACC (Activities) for the County before returning to the group full time in 2009. A Gang show was held in the Church hall 1983 entitled “London through the ages”. It was produced by Pat Stanford (a Guide leader from Kingswood) and directed by Geoff Dunstan. It ran for three nights with a full house in the church hall and was very much enjoyed by all participating young people and parents in the audience but it was very time consuming and hard work for many months. The group’s 50th anniversary, held in 1988, was attended by many former scouts and several founder members, some of whom had travelled long distances including one from Canada!
In 1991, the scout hut was modified to improve the kitchen/toilet arrangements and again in 1996, the entrance at the side was blocked to enable the positioning of Portakabin for storage. The new access was thereafter via the door on the front elevation.
In 1992 a new section was introduced – Beaver Scouts for children between 6 and 8 years of age. After 10 years this was closed due to lack of leaders but subsequently restarted in 2006.
The Present Years (2000-Present Day)
Another major refit was carried out in about 2008 when a new kitchen was installed, and the roof asbestos was sealed and insulated. The old dark blue colour (matching the group scarf) was replaced by two shades of brown. About 5 years later this was replaced by a more modern colour scheme of greys. In 2015 a proposal to replace the Portakabin by a more permanent structure and extend the accommodation sideways was proposed but did not go any further.
The centenary of scouting was marked by a Sunrise celebration in 2007 where members of the group assembled on Colley Hill to greet the sunrise. This was timed to coincide with similar celebrations across the country, on Brownsea Island where scouting started, at the 21st World Jamboree taking place in Essex and around the world. The theme was “One world, one promise”.
After Beavers restarting 2006 by an enthusiastic leader. The numbers have grown and subsequently oscillated between about 10 and the maximum capacity of 24.
The group has held family camps which involved members and parents of each section of the group at Walton Firs in ~2009, Parkwood, near Brighton in ~2011, Park Wood, Banstead in 2013 and Downe, Kent in 2016. These have proved very popular with parents and children alike.
In 2014 two new scout leaders stepped up to with an agreement to jointly share a programme with the 15th Reigate (Chipstead). This has resulted in a more regular and successful programme shared between the Chipstead HQ and Lower Kingswood HQ.
At the end of the 2016 spring term, the existing Beaver leaders had to step down as their employer moved away and one term later the cub leaders Clare Franklin and Val Dunstan also retired after very long service. These vacancies seemed to herald a closure of the two younger sections but up stepped Helen and Graeme Hopkins to run the beaver colony and Simon and Claire Butler plus Andy Junkison to run the cub pack. Indeed they soon rose to the challenge and both sections are flourishing with new life as this is written.
**End of History Notes**
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