|Ham Scout Group
The early years
There is some haziness about when Ham Scout Group actually started. Certainly, by 1945 there was a Rover Crew, but legend, if not record, has it that the birthday of the group was 1st April 1946. (The scout association record of registration is dated 31 March 1945)
The foundation of the group was the choir of St. Andrew's Church and the original name of the group became "2nd Ham, (St. Andrew's) Scout Group". The group badge was the white diagonal cross of St. Andrew worn on the point of a blue scarf. (There is no record of a "1st Ham" but this may well have been Petersham and Ham Sea Scout Group).
In the late 1960's with the growth of Ham and the introduction of a new local Church and parish; St. Richard's, it was no longer appropriate to keep the "St. Andrew's" title, and the name was changed to "Ham Scout Group" in 1972. In the group's 40th year a new group badge was introduced, bearing, in addition to St. Andrew's cross, a red bishop's mitre for St. Richard, who was Bishop of Chichester. The red edge to the badge, which is still worn on the point of the scarf, symbolises that 40th anniversary of the group.
The Troop initially held its meetings in Ham Institute in New Road on Saturday mornings in the dingy downstairs room. Later, and with better weather, meetings were held in the garden of St Andrew's Vicarage or, if wet, the Vicarage Stables. Eventually the meeting time was changed to Friday evening, and the venue to Ham School - now St Thomas Aquinas Church.
The Troop was run by John Stuart Cockburn assisted by Derek Angwin and Ken Tribute, and supported by three patrols, namely the Owls, Peewits and Hawks. The Kingfisher patrol was added later as more boys joined the troop.
Regular Court of Honour meetings were held in the Vicar's lounge and some enthusiasm for this must relate to the provisions of tea and cakes by the housekeeper at the close of the meeting - and sometimes the participants were even allowed to play billiards!
Quite a number of the Troop were also members of the Church Choir - indeed it was the Choir Camps which acted as the stimulus for the formation of a Scout Troop in the first place - and as a consequence, loyalties were divided when events such as cricket and football matches were arranged.
The first Scout Camp was held in the grounds of Eton College, by the riverside, and for most boys was their first experience of erecting and sleeping in bell tents. Food rationing was very much in force because the second World War had not long finished, so that the ability to cater fully for oneself was limited. Fires were not permitted in the College grounds, so that the on-site meals were breakfast and tea only. Lunch was obtained after a trek into Eton where there was a wartime institution known as a "British Restaurant", where easily forgettable food was served.
In the years that followed, the Troop progressed slowly but surely, and became involved in a variety of District Events, and a further camp was held at Eton. Another was held near Seaford in Sussex.
As well as Tenderfoot badge training and investitures, three Second Class badges appeared, followed by a variety of proficiency badges, and eventually First Class badges. A Senior Scout Troop was formed which allowed promotions to take place within the Troop, the Senior Scouts becoming involved with the general running of the Scout Troop as well as with their own training.
As part of the war and post-war effort, the Troop was frequently engaged in collecting a variety of materials for re-use and re-cycling - salvage! The most notable drive was the collection of jam jars for re-use. The result of this was that the site now occupied by St Andrew's Church Hall became awash with one- and two-pound jam jars, such was the effort put into the collection. The hard work demanded of such a venture provided a lot of fun too - and some much needed funds for Troop activities.
The Vicar's garden was much larger than it is today and was well-wooded at the back. There was no shortage of combustible materials, so that fire lighting and camp fire cooking were popular activities, frequently under the watchful eyes of Rev'd Ernie Beard. There was never any damage to the hallowed lawns! Fire lighting then - as now - was prohibited on the Common, but extensive Wide Games were held, usually between two teams whose bases always seemed to lie in a couple of the small bomb craters, long since filled in.
As the Troop became better equipped, more strenuous activities, under appropriate supervision, were undertaken, and in this regard the practical uses of ropes were discovered. Again, it was prohibited to sling ropes over and around trees on the Common or in the Park, so it was a case of "Let's see if we can use the Vicar's Garden!" Permission having been obtained, rope bridges appeared between the very large trees, out of sight of the Vicarage and of the eyes of parents who possibly might not have approved of such high adventure.
A Rover Crew was formed in June, 1945, with three members - Peter Goddard, Maurice Long and Tony Budd, who were joined within a few months by Trevor Owen. Activities were on a fairly limited scale, and in December, 1946, the Crew was disbanded due to the departure of its members into the armed forces.
The Crew was later re-formed, and the first meeting, held on 26th September, 1948, was attended by previous Rovers P. Goddard and T. Budd, Senior Scout M. Tuddenham, Scouts B. Cudmore, A. Cuthew, B. Bateson, P. Brown, E. Pain and non-Scouts K. Drake and H. Savill. The two other previous Rovers, M. Long and T. Owen, were still absent in the Navy and Army respectively.
A kind offer by the Cuthew family to use a shed in their garden as a Rover Den was gratefully accepted and the next few meetings were concerned with making this habitable and generally settling in. The Rover Crew now had seven members - Peter Goddard (Rover Mate), Tony Budd, and Rover Squires Barrie Bateson, Peter Brown, Alan Cuthew, Teddy Pain and Henry Savill. On 21st November, 1948, following a Vigil and Holy Communion, the five Rover Squires were invested as Rover Scouts in St Andrew's Church, Ham Common. Shortly after this, Peter Brown entered the Royal Navy.
The next weeks were spent in training and helping with the Scout Troop, which was then meeting in Ham School (later to become St Thomas Aquinas Church). Regular monthly Church parades were attended with the Scout Troop, and one Sunday in each month the members of the Crew took Holy Communion together.
In February, 1949, the Rover Den was transferred to the garage at 150 Tudor Drive (home of Peter Goddard), following the entry of Alan Cuthew into the Army. By this time Maurice Long and Trevor Owen had completed their National Service and rejoined the Crew.
The first post-war camp was held at Ranmore on the weekend of April 23-24, 1949. Peter Goddard, Maurice Long and Teddy Pain set out by Green Line Coach with the bulk of the equipment. After completion of his day's work, Henry Savill followed on his motor cycle with the weekend food supplies.
As well as their own progressive training programme, the Rover Crew helped with the training of the Scout Troop.
In 1950 Richmond and Barnes District leased some land near Leatherhead (Pachesham Park) to become a District Camp Site known as "Paches". Rovers from the District, together with other volunteers, spent much time in clearing, fencing and acting as Camp Wardens on a rota basis. Shortly after this the Rover Crew ceased to exist due to marriage and removal from the area, there not being any suitable candidates to take the place of the founder members.
Meetings during the 1950's and early 1960's were held at Grey Court School and were confined to Friday nights - Cubs in the Hall, Troop in the Gym, Senior Scouts in the Hall after Cubs. Other meetings were held at the Hymas's family home. This placed a limitation on the activities possible - the solution was to get our own Headquarters!
Michael 'Tig' Hymas, having succeeded J.O.P. Alexander as Group Scout Master in late 1957, initiated a long slog of fund-raising and led the negotiations for the group. Canon Ernie Beard, vicar of St Andrews was also a governor of Grey Court School and, with his help, the group started negotiations with the school, Richmond Council, Surrey County Council, the Ministry of Education, as well as various solicitors and others. After two years of haggling, and with the help of Ernie and Councillor Allcock, in 1960, Tig got agreement for a lease on land in the SE corner of Grey Court School grounds where the Hut stands today. Then a further snag... "how were we going to get to the site?"! A pathway from Evelyn road around the school field perimeter was suggested, but eventually, against all precedent, in February 1963, Tig managed to get an entrance onto the Avenue. Tig subsequently managed to get permission to take transport down the Avenue for Camp and other essential activities. Another cause of delay was the provision of mains drainage. An initial offer of service access via the yard adjacent to Vine Cottage on Ham Common was eventually declined and permission finally received to connect to the mains sewer on Ham Common via the Avenue. Alternative locations at the Sandy Lane end of the Avenue and at Meadlands School were considered but rejected. Finally, Group Captain Wilkins - District Commissioner at the time, ceremoniously dug the first turf with only Betty Hymas present - well, it was a week-day!
Meanwhile the group had not been idle. Enough money had been raised by various means to start the building. A grant from the Scout Authorities had been gained with the help of "Tiny" Chamberlain, Assistant County Commissioner at the time. Regular meetings concerned with planning the building had been held. At that time the group were lucky to have an architect parent Mr Wyndham Smith, so it was all systems go! The hard work started. A very hot summer meant that digging the foundations was a real marathon. Nevertheless, with another parent, Mr Ron Dale, as Clerk of Works, Saturday by Saturday, Sunday by Sunday, Bank Holiday by Bank Holiday, parents, scouters, boys and some very small children soldiered on. To make life more tolerable, an altar fire was constructed, and the ladies made gallons of tea on it. The large teapot that is still in the kitchen was donated for the purpose, and has seen much service at HQ gatherings and camp ever since.
It was a truly memorable day when concrete was poured on the foundations. It may come as a surprise to some to learn that apart from the erection of the roof struts, and digging out for the drains - the roots of the elms made it impossible to do by hand digging - the parents of the time and the scouters put up the HQ with their own hands. They did a first-class job. Some parents became so interested they became scouters.
Came the day in 1966 when, with the roof on, the group's second Cub Pack opened - on a concrete floor with building materials all round. Akelas at this time were Peggy Savill (Mondays) and Betty Hymas (Thursdays). A Jumble Sale was held in similar surroundings, with the piles of building materials being used for display purposes. Also, with great relief, the group were able to transfer the camp gear from the Vicarage stables, and the Savill's and Hymas's lofts. Up until then, before and after each camp, the gear had to be manhandled down and up! Drying canvas was a nightmare - once after a wet camp scouts had to erect a framework in the garden to hang the tents on.
At long last, all was more or less finished. The ladies had finished making the shutters, predecessors of the metal grills, and the men had finished building. The whole Group gathered on Ham Common opposite the Hand and Flower. With flags flying, the group marched across the Common to the "white gates" where the Guides formed a guard of honour. On to the gates of the HQ where Group Captain and Mrs Wilkins waited, scissors at the ready. The blue and white ribbons across the door were duly severed, and the assembled company went in for the official ceremony. The HQ was packed to capacity - and Tig's dream had come true.
Representatives from several Groups in the District took part in the 1966 expedition to the Dolomites organised on a County basis. Ham's contingent was H. Savill, M. Hymas, R. Hymas, B. Bright and G. Dale.
Two base camps were established, one at Dobbiaco and one at Canazei, and the object of the expedition was for small, independent, self-supporting units to make their way on foot from one base to the other. The party from Ham started from the camp at Dobbiaco, which they reached at 2000 on 9th August. The site was situated among pine trees, and was complete with showers, hot and cold water and toilets.
After a fairly relaxing day in camp on 10th August, the party began their journey south towards Canezi on the following day. Each party was responsible for planning its own route, and were required to handed in their proposals before leaving base camp, so that the expedition staff knew where each party could be found at any particular time.
The journey proved to be a very real test of initiative, resourcefulness and determination in conditions far more severe than anything experienced in this country. Each day brought a fresh challenge of new slopes to climb, new paths to follow and always the heat to endure. The reward was ample compensation for the effort - spectacular mountain scenery, pure mountain air and the sense of achievement when the day's objective was reached. Some nights were spent in Mountain Refuge Huts, where beds and hot meals are available for climbers, but at other times the only shelter was the lightweight tents which the group carried.
Final Base Camp at Canazei was a welcome sight to each of the parties as they completed their Trans-Dolomite journey. The party arrived there on 16th August. After a brief period of rest, they made short trips of exploration in the vicinity. Some of the party managed to fit in a visit to Venice, staying there overnight.
Plans for the ascent of the Marmolada had to be abandoned due to adverse weather conditions. Memories of the last days of the expedition are of floods and landslides as the worst storms for a hundred years swept the region, blocking passes, carrying away bridges and disrupting road and rail communications.
Plans for the return journey to England had to be drastically revised, and due to the efforts of the expedition leaders and the co-operation of railway authorities in Austria, Switzerland and France, the expedition arrived back at Victoria on 21st August, only nine hours behind schedule.
An Expedition Award in the form of a silk pennant was presented to a limited number of Senior Scouts who were judged to have achieved the highest standard. Members of 2nd Ham (St Andrews) Senior Troop were among those who received this award.
A representative from the group was selected to join the Richmond District contingent attending the 14th World Scout Jamboree in Lillehamer, Norway. The contingent packed large quantities of warm clothes only to experience the hottest summer on record - the Yemeni scouts in the neighbouring pitch were far more comfortable in their djellabas! After the Jamboree activities, the Richmond group enjoyed home hospitality with host families in Nybro, Sweden, and visited the local glass works, furniture factory and some visited Kalmar and Öland.
Although the 15th World Jamboree was held in Alberta, Canada, other international activities were organised for those unable to attend. In the Summer of 1983 the International Jamboree came to London. There were five concurrent camps held in the counties around London. Ham Scouts went to the camp at Downe. It was required at the camp that an indigenous Group would adopt a visiting Group from abroad for the duration of the camp. If it was possible, then to invite them back to their own District for home hospitality after the camp. It was under this dictate that Ham first met the 1st Indre Arne Scout Group from Bergen , Norway. This marked the start of the longest period of international exchange camps in the Group's history.
As well as the activities at the camp, the Norwegian Group came back to Ham for a week of home hospitality. This first successful liaison was followed up the next year by a visit from the Troop and the Guides of Ham & Petersham to Indre Arne. The trip was partially funded by a joint fund raising activity, and marked the setting up of a joint expedition fund, which was to be used to support many future joint foreign expeditions. The trip to Norway and back was noted by the use of North Sea Ferries and the lack of good sea legs exhibited by the members of the Groups. The camp was also marked by 24hr rain for the five days under canvas. The flooding of the site meant that flag break required a canoe, and eventually the evacuation of the site by the same means.
In the following year the Norwegians came to Ham. Only the older Girl and Boy Scouts known as Rovers came. The group took them on a guided tour of the South of England and Wales, with the Venture Scouts and Rangers of Ham and Ham & Petersham.
In 199? the Scouts and Guides went to Norway, this time using air transportation. The camp site was on a cliff top and flooding was no longer a problem. The lack of canvas and poles from which you could attempt to make a tent, was. The trip included some good excursions in the Norwegian country side, including a trip called "Norway in a nut shell".
The next year was the Norwegians' turn to visit. This time they brought their Boy and Girl Scouts. A camp was held at >Holmbury on Bulmer Farm, and the theme of the camp was King Arthur and the Knights of the round table. The camp was infused with many extracts from Monty Pythons Holy Grail, much to the bewilderment of the Norwegians. Activities included archery and jousting, and a much remembered camp fire, including the much sought after flaming Holy Grail.
The Holbury camp marked the end of the full exchange visits. The leaders of the Groups kept in touch for many years to follow. One new year holiday, Leaders from Ham Scouts went skiing in Norway, whilst Norwegian Leaders came to see the night life of London.
The time - 9.00 a.m.
The place - Guide H.Q., Woodville Road, Ham
The date - Sunday, July 28th, 1991
A group of Ham Scouts and Ham & Petersham Guides with their leaders had gathered to begin their expedition to Long Island, New York. Spirits were high and excitement was in the air. At 10.00 a.m. the group left Guide H.Q. and headed for Heathrow to catch their flight. They checked in at Air India and were soon on their way. The flight soon passed and landed at New York's JFK airport at 4.00 p.m.US Eastern time.
Struggling to stay awake, they passed through customs, and Bill Thomson (a former leader with Ham Scouts) greeted them warmly. They were driven back to Locust Valley, which was to be base for the next two weeks. The American Scouts greeted the group with giant-sized (14-inch) pizzas. Eventually, at about 10.00 a.m., it was time to call it a day - having been awake for the past 24 hours.
The next morning they awoke at about 5.00 a.m., due to jet lag. The American Scouts woke up five hours later and showed their visitors around Locust Valley.
The following day saw the first trip into the city, uptown Manhatten. This trip consisted of a tour - the New York Historical Trail - which, if completed, would earn a badge. It consisted of an 8-mile hike around Manhatten, including a trip to the top of the World Trade Centre twin towers. After completing the trail, the group needed a Chinese meal - so where better to go than Chinatown?! They had an incredibly filling meal, which left everyone feeling stuffed. The next day they were driven to Robert Moses beach. This was some good beach; here they tried Boogie Boarding. At first they were hopeless, but after a few lessons from the locals they were riding the waves. After a couple of ice creams and hot dogs they had to return to the Scout Hut. It was here that they were picked up to be taken to their host families to stay for a couple of days.
They all gathered again to head off to Bear Mountain. Transport was in short supply, so they kidnapped a car belonging to a parent of the host group who was away on holiday. On the way to Bear Mountain they stopped at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. The Visitor Center provided a good push-button type explanation of the plant. They then went to Iona Island at the foot of Bear Mountain to make camp for the night.
The following morning one of the Host Group parents gave a tour of the West Point Military Academy. They saw some new recruits, a wedding at the chapel and the Independence War fort above the campus. This trip was quickly followed by a hike up Bear Mountain. Following the spirit of trying to pack as much as possible into a weekend, that evening they paid a visit to Shea Stadium to see the Mets play the Chicago Cubs (the Mets were slaughtered).
Back to camp at Locust Valley for a few more nights. They took the opportunity to see a few local sights - Teddy Roosevelt's home on Sagamore Hill and Roosevelt Beach at Oyster Bay. They also managed to make another trip to Manhatten, taking in the United Nations building, FAO Schwartz (a large toy shop), Macy's, Tiffany's, Trump Tower and Central Park Zoo.
The last full day of the trip was spent at the flea market to pick up some inexpensive souvenirs for the folks at home. The trip finally concluded with a barbecue at the library near the Scout Hut. An exchange of gifts took place and Wendy Holwill's Birthday was celebrated. The American Scouts promised to try to return the visit next year.
Gilwell Park (Epping Forest), Polyapes (Stoke d'Abernon), Walton Firs, Bentley Copse, Douglas Meadow Petersham, Barn Elms
Chalfont Heights, Bucks (59)
Blackdown Heights (60,66) - site found by Senior Scouts on a 3-day hike. Subsequent Cub and scout camps held here. Large pond for swimming and rafting. Allowed to fell silver birch for pioneering.
Trefew, North Wales. (63) Long journey to very isolated site. Mountain stream water.
Salle, Norfolk (64) Isolated, flat and exposed - cornflakes blew away! Water bowser. John Sweet was the visitor (N.A.D.M. in "the Scout" magazine, wrote for Scouting and was author of many pioneering books) Enormous field with 2 dead chestnuts 20 yards apart - David Oates tested the rope ladder, monkey bridge and aerial runway. Akelas got lost in fog.
Ashburham, Sussex (65) Wooded site. Good lake for swimming and canoeing.
Nightingales Farm, Petworth (66) Heavy clay.
Wisborough Green (67, 68, 69, 70?)
Knote Park, (where?) (59, 62) Secluded parkland. Deer liked to eat soap and wet pits.
Holmbury St Mary, Surrey
Buckmore Park, Kent
Isle of Wight
Black Down Hill, (where?) (60)
Perry Wood, Lingfield, Surrey (61,62.63)
Bentley Copse, Surrey (64)
Abinger Hammer, Surrey (77)
Holmbury St Mary, Surrey (78)
The Fort, Reigate (dates??) - prone to be muddy if wet!
Arundel, Sussex (57, 58) - with the District
Burwash, (where?) (59) - with the District
Walton Firs - annually since the 1980s for Richmond Borough Camps
To contribute to this historic record of the group's activities, please contact us!