History of the Group
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FIRST SHIRLEY SCOUT GROUP - A BRIEF HISTORY
The earliest known impact of Scouting in Shirley was in 1912 when a certain Mr Wyatt, a teacher at St James School, formed a Troop, but this soon faded away when he left the district.
Further attempts were made in 1915 by a Mr A Andrews who, however, soon joined the forces and the Troop faded away once more.
1In 1916 a Mr Smallwood reopened the Troop and on that occasion the Troop lasted over a year, involving a succession leaders – Mr Hutchinson and Mr Hadley – before they too joined the forces and the Troop succumbed again.
In May 1918 Mr J Benson was appointed Headmaster at St James School. He had been a Scoutmaster previously and was asked to start a Troop. Seeing the great need for some youth organisation in the village (as it then was) he did so in September of that year. The Troop was registered in January 1919 under the number 519 (later 5708) and from that date First Shirley Scout Group has had a continuous existence despite many ups and downs.
Soon after starting the Scout Troop the local girls persuaded Mr Benson to organise a Girl Guide Company and this has also continued as the 1st Shirley Company.
The Troop gained strength, started it's first band and joined in the 1918 peace celebrations. Camping started in 1919, the first camp at Glyn near Harlech being held in 1922. To emphasise the strong connection of the Group with Glyn a rock from there (Clogwyn Gwyn) is incorporated in the wall of the present Headquarters at the main entrance, together with a log from Buckholt Woods at Cranham near Cheltenham . It is from these links that both Scout Troops take their names, the second Troop being started in 1953.
Mr Benson was succeeded in 1929 by Mr Cecil Maund who had been one of his assistants. Mr Benson died in 1934 but the fruits of his work have carried on from strength to strength.
A Rover Crew was started in 1927 and a member of the Crew started a Wolf Cub Pack in 1932. A second Cub Pack was formed in 1962 and met at the Territorial Army Barracks in Haslucks Green Road , the original Pack continuing to meet at the Church House.
A Senior Scout Troop was formed in December 1946 from the remaining members of the disbanded Scout Troop at Shirley Baptist Church , that Troop having to close through lack of leaders. The Senior Scouts later became the Venture Scout Unit and is now the Intrepid Explorer Scout Unit.
Originally a khaki uniform was worn, the Scouts wearing red & blue divided neckerchieves, the Cubs brown & green and the Rovers dark green with the familiar ‘torch' badge on the back. Later the whole group adopted the Rover neckerchief and also changed to green shirts and blue shorts. A red border was added to the neckerchief in 1962 and long mushroom trousers in 1968, green berets also replaced the broad brimmed hats. The Scout uniform again changed in 2002 when the present green shirt and dark blue trousers, without headgear, were introduced for Scouts, with variations for younger and older age groups.
The Group has, over the years, enjoyed a number of meeting places including the stables at the old Vicarage opposite Shakespeare Drive . An ex-wartime hut was purchased for £70 in 1947, moved from Highlands Road and re-erected in Shirley Park (with gas lighting and no toilets) where it remained in use until destroyed by fire in 1968, only weeks after we moved into our new building. The present Headquarters was erected at a cost of £12,000 through the generosity of Mr V H ‘Johnny' Johnson and the persistent hard work of past and present members of the Group. The chair store at the end of the hall was added in 1973.
Our first Beaver Scout Colony, Maple, was formed in 1985 followed some eighteen months later by Pine in 1987.
Current uniformed membership of the Group in 2009 is around 180, to which must be added the loyal band of parents of present and former members and supporters of the Group (the latter known as ‘Torch'), without whom no Group can hope to survive.