The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

The Boy Scouts

From 'The Lenton Listener' Issue 19

July - August 1982

Scouting in Lenton - The Story of the 47th

Wherever you go you can expect to come across Scouts and Cubs. Worldwide there are an estimated ten million boys belonging to their various countries' scout associations. Almost every neighbourhood, at one time or another, has had its own scout and cub troop. Sadly the support for many of these has dwindled and the troops have been disbanded. As the reader of this article will learn, several troops have disappeared from the Lenton scene, but others like the main subject of our article, the 47th Nottingham (Lenton) troop have kept going through both good and bad years.

1982 has amongst other things been designated the year of the Scout. So for that reason alone, it is an appropriate time to put one of our local troops under the spotlight. In spite of the fact that few of our readers will have belonged to this or other of the Lenton troops, we hope that you will find this rather lengthy account of the history of the 47th of interest.

Robert Baden Powell first rose to prominence in the Boer War as the army officer who had successfully held the besieged town of Mafeking for seven months against a much larger Boer attacking force. On his return to England, he found himself feted as a national hero. He continued in the army until 1907, by which time he had risen to Lieutenant General and had become Inspector General of Cavalry. With his experience of training soldiers in the veldt of South Africa, he began to envisage a possible training programme for boys. He felt that the nation�s future manhood needed a definite training in citizenship if the best in each of them was to be brought out. Even before his retirement from the army, he had begun to try and interest leading figures of the day in his ideas. He advocated that his scheme was easy to set up and inexpensive to run but that much could be achieved by it. The boys would learn about the countryside, develop woodcraft skills, sharpen their powers of observation and the training would foster their loyalty and chivalry and challenge their courage and endurance. The scheme could be adopted by any existing organisation for boys such as schools, the boys brigade, cricket clubs, cadet corps etc. But where this was not possible, special groups could be formed to organise the training.

The Lenton Pioneers as gymnasts c.1925

Back in his army days, Baden Powell had written a short military manual called 'Aids to Scouting'. Many of the ideas he was putting forward in his boys' scheme were already contained in the book, so he reworked the material for a younger, non-military readership and this became the world famous handbook 'Scouting for Boys'. With the help of a wealthy patron, Baden Powell obtained premises, which could serve as headquarters and office where individuals or groups waiting advice, help, or information could write or call. The 'Scouting for Boys' was brought out in six fortnightly parts, each issue costing 3d., within the reach of many boys. Baden Powell then went on a national speaking tour to promote his ideas and his embryo organisation, the Boy Scouts.

On February 4th 1908, early on in the tour of the country, Baden Powell spoke at the Nottingham Tabernacle whereas the Nottingham Guardian reported he 'delighted a large audience with an explanation of his scheme for the training of boys'. Four days later the first Scout troop in Nottingham was formed at the Y.M.C.A. (This was one of the first in the country, but since no formal records were kept at that early stage, it is impossible to say whether it was the very first or not). Very soon groups were beginning to spring up all over the country.

Nottingham Guardian 18 May 1967

On the letters page of the Guardian Journal for May 18th 1967 was one from a Mr. W. Chadburn, which we have reproduced here and which makes most interesting reading. From it we must assume that Scouting also got off to a very early start here in Lenton. Strangely, however, no record of the existence of a Lenton troop in these early years can be found in the Annual Reports of the Nottingham Boy Scout Association. So despite the verger's close connections with Baden Powell, the Lenton troop must never have been registered in its own right with the Boy Scout Association. As Mr. Chadburn pointed out, mention of the scouts could probably be found in the minutes of the parochial church council. Unfortunately these no longer seem to be in existence. Another possible source of reference might have been the parish magazine, but sadly the church has not retained a complete collection of old magazines. (Should any reader know of someone with pre-second world war copies we should be delighted to hear from them.) So little more can be said about Mr. Chadburn and his fellow scouts at least for the moment.

The first Lenton troop, which can positively be identified in the records of the Nottingham Boy Scout Association, is the 39th Nottingham (Lenton Wesleyan), which was formed in about 1915. Their meeting place was the Wesleyan Church which used to stand on Church Street until it was pulled down in the clearance of the Willoughby Street area. This troop only lasted a short while and seems to have ceased to function round about 1920.

The 47th Nottingham was officially registered in London on February 19th 1917. It was actually started at All Souls Church on the corner of Ilkeston Road and Lenton Boulevard by the curate there, the Rev. E. Flintoft Wood. But when in 1918 he moved along the Boulevard to Lenton Parish Church, nobody at All Souls wanted to take over the troop, so instead he brought it with him to Lenton. There, scouts and cub packs were set up straight away. A photograph of the troop in 1918 (not reproduced here because of the poor quality of the original) shows 3 adult scouters posing with 36 scouts and cubs. So the 47th must have quickly gathered recruits here in Lenton.

The troop seemed to have a number of different meeting places. One was in the Church School (now the Sikh Temple) on Church Street, another the Mission Hall which was at the corner of Manfull Street and Lombard Street in the Willoughby Street area. The Manfull Street Mission Hall appeared to be more favoured by the scouts, while the cubs usually met at the Church School. The troop also met for a while in the 'tin chapel' on Lenton Boulevard which until recently was used by Clement Pianos.

The scoutmasters in the twenties were a Mr. C.C. Towne, the Rev. K.B. Frampton, and Mr. S.J.H. Carver. It appears that it was the Rev. Frampton, curate at the church from 1922 to 1927 who was the guiding force in those early years. Affectionately known by the boys as 'Frambo', he encouraged the 'Pioneers', his nickname for the troop in all they did, for instance the gymnastic display team pictured here. One Lenton scout, Walter R. Read who joined in 1923 remembers 'Frambo' picking them up on Saturdays in his old combination and taking parties of boys chugging off to the weekend camps at their favourite spot, Bunny Woods. In winter, when the weather rather kept them 'at home' he remembers they did such things as single sticks, signalling, ambulance work and various tests. One test involved being able to walk and run over a mile course and finish in exactly twelve minutes. The Lenton course started from the Mission Hall, went up Willoughby Street to the Derby Road, down Derby Road to Hillside, then along Hillside and over the canal bridge on to Leengate, up Gregory Street and along Church Street then back to the Mission Hall. It was surprisingly hard to pace yourself so that you finished spot on.

In June 1928 the troop won through to the final of the 'Football Post' Scouts Cup, which was open to football teams from scout troops throughout the county. The Lenton team consisted of Reddish, Baskill, Green, Fox, Moore, Smith, Read, McClean, Porket, Mee and Stevenson. Their opponents were from the 1st West Bridgford troop. The match, at the Victoria Embankment must have been rather a one-sided affair for Lenton romped away with the cup and a 9-1 victory.

Waiting at the station: the 47th on their Summer camp in the Derwent Valley c.1926

In the late 1920s the new housing estates at Wollaton Park and Lenton Abbey were beginning to grow quite quickly. Both had parts of their areas fall within the parish of Lenton. So when the Rev. J.R. Skipper became vicar at Lenton in 1929, he realised the major task ahead of him was the spiritual provision of these two emerging communities. It was largely through his efforts that the churches of St. Barnabas at Lenton Abbey and St. Mary's on Wollaton Hall Drive were finally built in 1938. The Rev. Skipper, however, still found time to take a keen interest in the scouts and guides etc. In 1930 he installed himself as Group Scoutmaster at Lenton. He soon had scouts and cubs started at the Priory Church Hall and at the temporary building which acted as the meeting place for the Lenton Abbey congregation. The troop who met at the Priory was registered in June 1930 as the 2nd/47th Nottingham (St. Anthony's) and the Lenton Abbey became the 3rd/47th Nottingham (St. Barnabas) at the same time.

Only six months after the 2nd/47th had been started the troop suffered a personal tragedy. One of their scouts, a certain John Samuel Tring aged 13, had been accustomed to do his daily good deed by seeing a blind man safely on to a city bound tram, before going off to school. On the morning of November 4th 1930, he was accompanied down Gregory Street by a young friend Alfred Scarlett, aged 7. As usual they put the man on the Derby Road tram. The driver of a Barton's bus, however, coming up behind had assumed that they were getting into the tram and had proceeded to pass the tram on the inside. The young boy had tried to run back to the pavement, while Tring, seeing the bus, had run out to save the boy. Sadly both were killed by the oncoming bus. This Lenton scout was posthumously awarded the highest Scouting award - a bronze cross.

By June 1933 the 47th had spread across to the Wollaton area for the 4th/47th Nottingham (Lenton) St. Mary's was then registered. Although there were changes in the scout and cub masters and their assistants throughout the thirties, the four troops all carried on until the Second World War.

The 47th posing in front of the gates of the Henry Road entrance to Devonshire
Promenade in 1956

The original 47th troop, the 1st/47th, had been doing very well indeed just prior to the war and the troop was bigger than it had been for many years. But once the war started the numbers dropped considerably - what with the 'distractions' of war and the fact that some of the scouts and cubs were evacuated. Those who remained helped the war effort doing little jobs of national service. Most Saturdays in 1941 the scouts were to be seen pulling a trek cart around the streets of Lenton in search of paper for salvage. They also acted as messengers for the various branches of Civil Defence and took stints at fire watching - though in the event it must have proved rather boring as Nottingham suffered very little enemy bombing. However, it wasn't simply the scouts and cubs who were missing from the troops. Throughout the war the adults who had offered to help run the troops were either being called up into the forces or involved in war work which prevented them assisting the boys. In September 1942 the Rev. Skipper put out an appeal via the parish magazine for four new scoutmasters, one for each troop. It was no doubt this lack of available adults that led to the demise of the 2nd/47th troop at the Priory late in 1940. The other three troops struggled on but it must have been a near thing in some cases. The 1st/47th faced difficulties with its scouters but in September 1944 it solved at least one of its problems when Gerald Bickerstaff offered to become scoutmaster, a position he held for the next twenty-three years.

The war over, the 1st/47th began to build up its numbers. In 1948 it was offering such winter time activities at the Mission Hall as Scouts Own, ambulance work, woodcraft, pioneering, boxing, football and handicrafts, and in later years table tennis, games, film shows, billiards and darts were added to the list. In 1950 the Scouts decided to move their base from Manfull Street to the Church School. The School itself was to remain open only a year or two more before the building was taken over and made into a Church Youth Centre. The troop had always been a 'closed' one, which meant that membership was supposed to be restricted to those who attended the parish church. But on the death of the Rev. Skipper soon after the opening of the Youth centre in September 1954, it was decided to alter this ruling and make the troop 'open' - open that is to anyone in the area regardless of religious commitment. The 47th has remained 'open' ever since.

In 1951 a further scout troop, one not attached to any church, was started at Lenton Abbey. Registered as the 15th Nottingham (Lenton Abbey), it met at Woodside Road*. But it seems that supplies of cubs and scouts were insufficient to keep two troops going. The 15th Nottingham remained in existence and still continues but the 3rd/47th was disbanded. The last of the additions to the mantle of the 47th, the 4th/47th relinquished its connection with the Lenton parish when it changed its title and reregistered in 1956 as the 62nd Nottingham. The troop now meets at the scout hut near Lenton Lodge on Derby Road. This left the 1st/47th on its own. So it reregistered once more, this time as merely the 47th Nottingham (Lenton) troop, the name it retains to this day.

Lenton Scouters, Past and Present at the 1967 celebrations (left to right)

Front Row: Cyril Ashmead, G.M. Cooper, S.J.H. Carver, K.B. Frampton,
George Moore.
Second Row: Margaret Roe, Eileen Bickerstaff, Ken Annal, Christine Islip,
Pat Brooks.
Third Row: Peter Frost Jack Millington, Gerald Bickerstaff, Graham
Back Row: Tony Cowell, Peter Hodgkinson, Nigel Balchin.

By 1967 the troop had been going for fifty years so it was decided to celebrate in February that year with a week of special events. This began with a parade and church service on the Sunday at which the troop's old colours, by now a bit ragged, were laid up. These can still be seen inside the church hanging from the balcony. New replacement colours (i.e. the troop's flag) were later dedicated. It was quite a memorable occasion for those present with the church practically full with scouts, cubs, parents and former Lenton scouts who had been invited to take part in the celebrations. For the rest of the week, it was parties - one for the cubs, one for the scouts and then one for the scouters past and present and for all old Lenton scouts who had answered their open invitation. All were treated to a fine buffet prepared by the scouts' parents committee followed by a display of slides and old photographs of the troops. The 'star' guest was undoubtedly the Rev. Keith Frampton then aged 77 (he died only recently aged 90). The occasion merited a two-page write up in the Weekly Guardian. Obviously everyone enjoyed seeing each other again and chatting over old times - so much so that the Old Lenton Scouts held an annual reunion dinner for the following three years.

In 1967 the national organisation of the Boy Scout Association decided it was time to alter their image somewhat. For a start they dropped the word 'Boy' from their title. A major change, though, was in the transformation of the uniform, the idea being to try and make the scout look a little more up to date. Out went the 'Mountie' style hat and the short trousers; in came the beret and long trousers. Since 1917 the Lenton uniform had been a navy blue top with a white scarf; for although the great majority of scout troops opted for khaki, all were offered a choice of khaki, grey, green or navy. The Lenton navy blue therefore was quite distinctive amongst scout troops in Nottingham. But the 1967 changes also restricted the colour of the uniform to khaki alone, so Lenton took to khaki with a light blue scarf.

A Fund Raiser for the 47th: Shoe Shine Week 1979
with P.C. 'Tug' Wilson in attendance.

In the mid-sixties there was a lot of talk in Scout circles about amalgamation of neighbour-hood troops, the thinking being that big is beautiful. The larger unit would be able to do more, raise more money and generally be more successful than the smaller groups. Talks went on about the possibility of the 47th merging with the 62nd at Wollaton Park and using their premises, though it seems that nobody from the 47th was very keen on the idea, which eventually died a natural death.

The scouts and cubs of the 47th carried on much as before with the occasional change in personnel. The next major problem to confront the troop came in the mid-70s, when the need to find new premises became urgent. The high cost of heating, lighting and repairs to the old school building was becoming burdensome to the Church and the vicar, the Rev. Dunford, was keen to resolve matters by, closing the Youth Centre. Against the wishes of many parishioners, he got his way and in 1977 the building was closed and put up for sale. The 47th had to find a new home. P.C. Annable then based at Canning Circus, had been running a youth club in one of the garage spaces under the shopping precinct. After long negotiation it was agreed that the troop could share the accommodation, such as it was, with the youth club.

The present troop has about 16 scouts, led by Mrs. Mary Pykett, who meet in the garage space on a Friday between 7-15 and 9-30 p.m. Currently the scouts are extremely keen on all kinds of sports and physical recreation and enter as many football and swimming competitions as they can find. They also go off camping during the summer months and take part in scout camping competitions. It is the cubs' turn in the garages each Wednesday between 6.30 and 8.00 p.m. At present almost thirty boys are regularly turning up to cub nights, but their cub-mistress, Debbie Higgs, assistant cub master John Ellis and helper Keith Booth would be delighted to see even more recruits. Each year the cubs go for a weekend camp at Walesby and return there later in the year for the County Day when cubs from all over the county will come dressed for the occasion. In previous years it has been as Red Indians, clowns and cowboys. This year it will be as Stone Age cavemen that hundreds of cubs will spend the day at Walesby. Back in Lenton the cubs do their various tests and exercises, play games or take part in little projects. There are also such annual events as the 5-a-side football competition and sports day to look forward to. Once the Wednesday cub night is finished, cubs, scouts and parents take over the Willoughby Street Baths for an hour of fun and frolics.

Scouts of the 47th posing at their camp at Walesby 1974.

During the clearance of the Willoughby Street area in the early 1960s, the scouts approached the City Council in the hope of acquiring a site in the redevelopment on which they might build their own scout hut.

Instead the City Engineer offered them a small plot of land alongside the railway line with an entrance to it from Sherwin Road. This the scouts took at a rent of £10 a year. Apart from the occasional activity the land, including grass-cutting sessions, the Scouts have never been able to do anything with the land. But now twenty years later and after a number of false starts, it looks as if the 47th will get their own 'home' there after all. £11,000 of City Council money will be allocated for a scout hut on the condition that the Scouts can find a further £4,000. The concrete prefabricated hut that they have been promised is expected to be 40 x 20 foot and will consist of one large room, a small meeting room, a storeroom and toilets. The Scouts have accepted the challenge and are furiously trying to raise the money before the deadline of March 1983. Apart from the regular money raisers, such as jumble sales and bring and buys, they are organising special events. There is a summer fete planned for Sunday July 4th on the school playing fields opposite Lenton Recreation ground. They are trying to book space in one of the City's shopping centres so that they can try and persuade shoppers to donate enough coins to build a mile of pennies - which if successful should swell their funds by about £400. They have recently appealed to all old Lenton scouts and cubs to buy a brick at £1 a time. Rube Sunshine has recently offered to bring his band out of retirement for a fundraising dance if a suitable venue can be found.

*An addendum [2014] added by Stephen Bluff. The 15th Nottingham scout and cubs troop initially met at Beeston Fields School on Boundary Road. In 1962/63 they moved into the new scout hut built on Woodside road. Stephen and his brother, David, were in the cubs at the time and Stephen remembers helping to prepare the foundations for the new hut. He recalls that Skip Davis was their cub leader while his wife was his assistant. Among the cubs who attended at this time Stephen lists Tyrone Atkins, Robert Bond, John Bowler, Danny Coleman, Martin Coyle, Ian Margetts, Richard Monk, Gary Morphin and Mark Morphin, Peter Morton, Steve Poole, Paul Smith and the Wright brothers - one of whom had a heart condition and sadly died after heart surgery. Half the cubs came from Beeston Fields while the rest lived on the Lenton Abbey estate.

Scouts of the 47th Nottingham c.1925.
The photograph was taken in what was then Lenton Infant School playground with No.3 Lenton Boulevard in the background. The balcony has since been removed. In the photograph on the middle row from the left are 7 unidentified scouts then Doug Hewitt, Steve Carter, Rev. Frampton, Percy Board and George Moore.

From 'The Lenton Listener' Issue 22

January - February 1983

47th Heaven

Dreams do sometimes come true. Last year the City Council offered to provide Lenton scouts with new premises provided they could raise £4,000 towards the cost of the prefabricated hut by March 1983.

We can now report that the 47th Nottingham (Lenton) troop is well on the way to reaching and possibly passing that total. A substantial amount has been donated by three local charitable trusts. The Lady Hind and Dame Agnes Mellors Trusts both gave the scouts £1,000, while the Jesse Spencer Trust donated £500. Other donors were Boots Ltd. with £200, a Miss Cannell with £50 and the 75th Nottingham (Wollaton) scout troop who generously gave their Lenton cousins £40. A number of other smaller donations have also been received. Recent money raising functions such as the scout Xmas Fayre and the social evening at the Jubilee Club raised over £250.

Although they are quite close to the £4,000 target, Mrs. Pykett, the scout mistress is still hard at work trying to raise a little more - then the scouts will be able to afford adequate furnishings for the hut now standing off Sherwin Road. Although the hut is not to be opened officially by the County Commissioner until April 30th, the scouts should soon be meeting there and will be able to say a final farewell to their old damp dark headquarters in the garage space under the Church Square shopping precinct.

The photograph shows part of the Scout Hut, Mrs. Pykett and four Manpower Services workers employed to help lay the main supplies and concrete paving slabs. Photo by Chris Dent.

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