A decade of parish life: from the magazine, 1923-34
(3) Baden-Powell groups

The story of boys' and girls' uniformed groups in the parish during this decade is an interesting one, for it shows what could be achieved by dedicated leadership, including some who came from outside the parish to help, until the commitment became too great to sustain; and also the support given both by fellow troops and companies in more affluent areas, and by farmers and landowners providing campsites for youngsters from the East End. Perhaps they were being patronised, but they seemed to cope well enough with this, in the spirit of the 'good turn' philosophy of the Baden-Powell organisations.

Brownies, Guides & Rangers
Brownies and Guides (3rd St George-in-the-East Company) had been established in the parish, meeting in the Mission Hall, with Miss Millicent Martin as Captain. When Phyllis Hatton, who was a District Commissioner, came as parish worker, she started a Ranger unit. In May 1924 the South Stepney District competition was held at St George's - physical exercises, country dancing, signalling, company drill and 'second class work' (?): spectators 6d. Miss Hatton was invited to demonstrate a camp fire ceremony at a big rally in Hyde Park. She and Miss Martin took 80 girls to the district camp in the grounds of Copped Hall, Epping Forest.

To mark the Ranger's first birthday in November 1924, they held a social, to which Guides, Scouts and Rovers were invited; the scout troop returned the invitation the following month - very jolly evenings resulted. The Brownies held an open afternoon, but were disappointed that only 3 of 24 mothers were present. In January 1925, Guides and Rangers invited the 50 girls from St George-in-the-East Schools at Upton Park [a former Poor Law 'industrial' school linked to the workhouse] to a gathering. The Rangers took up debating: the first motion (lost) was 'the raising of the school leaving age from 14 to 15', and the next topic 'Widows' Pensions'. The following year they ran an ambulance class, to prepare them for the badge, and invited all girls over 14 in the parish to join them. Miss Hatton left the parish that year.

In January 1926 the Brownies performed a missionary play A Call from India which showed the terrible conditions under which the Indian child-widows live, and the untold blessings and changed conditions of life that Christianity brings them. Tickets were 3d. and 6d. and there was a small sale of work - proceeds for SPG. The following week, through friends of Miss Hallward (Miss Hatton's successor as parish worker), they were taken to the Polytechnic Theatre, Regent Street, to see the film India Today, followed by tea at Lyons. (The first missionary 'talkie' shown there, Thro' China and Japan, was six years later: parishioners were encouraged to attend - admission was 1/- to 4/-.) A year later, the Guides joined the Brownies for another play, with tableaux, on scenes of life in India The King's Flower Garden.

In April 1926 the Guides were invited for a Saturday afternoon by the 1st Cheam Company - 40 minutes by train from London Bridge, so it seemed right in the country. They were met at the station and taken for a walk; they listened to the birds and saw a great many things never seen in St George's-in-the East. In the following year, Miss Foulger and her niece Violet (pianist) began to travel each week from Lee with members of their Girls' Friendly Society to help prepare a display of marches, dances, skipping and free exercises, presented in the Mission Hall in February 1928; this served to increase numbers greatly. The Foulger family, who ran a local business, had long connections with the parish. The venerable and beautiful figure of William Foulger had died in 1925: the Rector wrote that he was most conscientious, always as punctual as the Greenwich clock; his son's long and terrible illness and the great difficulties of business after the war clouded his last years, but never took from him his splendid old world courtesy. See here for more about the Foulger family.

When Charles Beresford became Rector, he helped the Guides maintain a choir, which always performed creditably at the People's Palace Musical Festival; and together with the Scouts they provided escorts at Armisticetide and other services.

Cubs, Scouts and Rovers
In 1924, Cecil Barrett (of 16 Stepney High Street) and others set about establishing a Scout troop, and Miss Savage Armstrong (the parish worker) recruited Wolf Cubs, aged 8-10, for a pack which she initially led. By the following year, Cubs were meeting twice a week, with George Ruffalls as Cubmaster. Mr Warner, who led the young men's bible class on Sunday afternoons, started a Rover unit. The Scout Troop was registered as 20th Stepney St George's (Earl of Winterton's Own) - over the following years, Earl Winterton sent occasional donations of two guineas for Scout funds. There were 32 members.

It was hoped to set up a scout band, and to take some boys to a fortnight's summer camp in Billericay. The latter, recorded Scoutmaster Barrett, was a great success - the best camp I have attended during the ten years in the movement, the boys worked and played well together and gave no trouble. The canteen, run by Patrol Leader Kreamer, made £1 5s. profit.

In 1925, fundraising (whist drives, concerts and other amusements) began in earnest to enable Cubs and Scouts to go together on camp in Tresmere, Cornwall - a large expense above what the boys are able to pay. A concert raised £8 4s; it kicked off at 8pm with a deafening howl from the Cubs, included songs at the piano by Mr Pallister and lightning sketches by his partner, two jolly comedians, songs and sketches by the Scouts and remarkably fine Morris dancing by the North Lambeth Rovers. and was still going strong at 11.15pm when the reviewer left!

Mr Symons, the farmer who lent fields on his farm, wrote that he was looking forward to seeing the East London boys. Once they arrived, reported Barrett, it was a great success: our boys seem to have won friends wherever they went, and Tresmere and its neighbourhood offered no less than seventeen places for their camp next year! Last night: farmers and villagers from miles around joined together to give them a real Cornish tea, after which the Troop gave a concert for their hosts. They returned laden with gifts of flowers, cream, butter, ducks and rabbits.

As soon as they returned, they began fundraising for the following year, having almost depleted their funds of £90. In November 1925 they had a successful social and dance: the Hall was crowded with a jolly company, all making themselves sociable and happy, which after all was the object of it - and made £3. They were among the 1500 Scouts on Parade at the People's Palace in memory of the fallen. There were five full patrols. Barrett had plans for a choir, Morris and country dancing, handicrafts, football in scouts' league and much else besides. Their current objectives, he said, were to please those who do not understand our ways, and get funds for our camp. I should like your views on the next Church Parade. I think you will notice a marked change in the discipline of the Troop. A dance was held at St George's Town Hall, with Sharpe's Orchestra - admission 1/6d; if you do not dance, come all the same and enjoy yourself! Under Barrett's leadership, a small Scouts class began to meet on Sunday afternoons in the choir vestry - any scout over 13 may join.

In April 1926 the Cubs had an Easter Monday hunt. They took the bus to Loughton and started through the forest for Riggs' Retreat: NE as far as The Hole, NNW for ¼ mile, rounding Blackweir Lake, on to Golding Lake, crossing Golding Road about 1m south of Wake Arms, and so due SE to Riggs. There they found the object of their journey - milk cakes and cocoanuts [sic] - and made their own trail back to Pocock's Tea Rooms in Loughton. Numbers were too few for a camp that year. But the Scouts returned to Tresmere in July, at a cost of 32/6 per boy, subsidised by fundraising, and the proceeds of the Camp Bank. Barrett promised it will be under efficient sanitary supervision.

The Scouts held a Christmas party that year: a marionette show in a miniature theatre, refreshments, conjuring, and a fancy dress competition - the winner was dressed as a slogan of the day, 'It pays to advertise'; other entrants included Newspaper Boy, Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan. There was a Jamboree in the Town Hall the following month.

In June 1927 Barrett stood down as Scoutmaster (see here on The Corinthians) and Mr Green took over. The Cubs had a 4-day Whitsun camp at a farm in Stebbing, Essex. They met at Foulgers' [see above], and Mr Judd, the warden, took them and their luggage to Liverpool Street, where they all squeezed into one carriage; they motored from Dunmow to Stebbing Farm, and slept in a barn; the magazine lists all the menus, in which ham figures prominently.

Under new leadership, in 1928 the Scouts held their annual social, each boy invited to bring a friend for tuck-in, camp songs and games; future plans included a swimming club, participation in the Scout football league, and a drum and fife band - which improved attendance. There were several excursions and camps - East Monday in the forest with scouting games and a paper chase, a Whit camp where they were 'scorched', and a summer camp at New Romsey, on a site loaned by Mr Anderson, a retired seaman. Twenty boys attended, and there were lots of attractions including a miniature railway, 'bathing parades' in the sea, a trip to Hastings, cricket and camp fires with other scouts, as well as church parade. Mr Anderson invited them to his home to listen to the wireless and also a gramophone concert. It was a great success, but exhausted their funds. They also provided a Guard of Honour for the Duchess of York at the People's Palace Musical Festival, for which they were complimented by her and Dr Malcolm Sargent.

In June 1929 Mr Green gave up - like Mr Barrett, finding it too time-consuming to run the Troop as it should be - and was succeeded by Mr A. F. Thomas, a resident at Roland House, the Scouts' HQ in Bethnal Green, who was very experienced. In November it was reported that after an unsettled period the Troop is now running well again, and we have considerably increased our membership during the past two months. There were several weekend camps, including August Bank holiday at Cuffley, by the kindness of Dr R.J. McNeill Love and a weekend at Watford laid on by the South West Herts Rovers. The 2nd City of London Troop helped in badge work instruction, of value in getting the Troop going on the right lines. The winter programme included a monthly lantern show. The first portrayed the travels of London Scouts camping in the Italian Lakes, the second Captain Sir David Barker's slides on natural history of the sea. There was still room for a few recruits of the right type who understand that membership of the Scouts means service for the good of others and not only personal benefit.

In February 1930 George Ruffals resigned his Wolf Cub leadership - home and work are now a long way off - leaving a well-trained pack of nearly 40; two months later Cecil Barrett stepped into the breach. The Scouts acquired the use of a hut, and made good use of it. The Association approved the formation of a Sea Scout Patrol, for boys over 15. The Scouts had a fortnight's camp in Guernsey, as guests of the 1st Kew Troop who entertained them and funded their journey. Back home, Mrs Hampton treated them to seats at the Carlton Theatre to see Admiral Byrd's film on the South Pole.

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