100 years doing their best

ONE of the world s oldest scout groups, the 1st Hunts (Hartford), will mark its centenary on Saturday with an exhibition, a party and a reunion. While the group will be 100 years old next Friday (February 22), the celebrations open this weekend by markin

ONE of the world's oldest scout groups, the 1st Hunts (Hartford), will mark its centenary on Saturday with an exhibition, a party and a reunion.

While the group will be 100 years old next Friday (February 22), the celebrations open this weekend by marking the group's illustrious history.

The exhibition reflects many of the major events of the 20th century, including the great wars and the sinking of the Titanic - the group's first scoutmaster drowned on the ill-fated ship.

The scouting movement in Huntingdonshire started in 1908 when Reginald Coleridge and his friend, the Rev Anthony Crossfield, invited members of the Lads Brigade (which met at Hartford Church Hall) and the Boys Club (St Mary's Church) to start a patrol.

Mr Coleridge was particularly impressed with the principles in Scouting for Boys, written by Robert Baden Powell. Out of the 10 boys who attended that first meeting, six decided to make a patrol of Scouts and one, Harry Miles, remained a leader for near 60 years.

During those first few months, Rev Crossfield and Mr Coleridge travelled around Huntingdonshire giving lantern slide shows and talks about scouting.

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The scouts travelled with them giving displays of first aid, Indian club swinging and stave exercises.

By 1909, the Rev Crossfield had organised other scout troops in the area, including the 2nd Hunts (Huntingdon), 3rd Huntingdon (St Ives) 4th (Huntingdon & Godmanchester), 6th (Brampton), 8th (Woodston) and Ramsey.

Three years later Mr Coleridge, an advertising designer, had resigned as scoutmaster due to his business in London. Wishing to improve his ideas, he decided to go to New York and bought a ticket on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. He had booked his ticket on another steamer, but the story goes that he had his passage transferred because of a coal strike.

At the outbreak of war in 1939, the scouts were used as messengers at the headquarters of the air raid wardens in Huntingdon, operating a 24/7 service.

More history was made in 1946 when scout Richard J Golding received the Gilt Cross for Bravery after saving his workmate from being electrocuted - he forced a live fuse away from his hand.

In the 1960s, Chief Scout, Sir Charles McLean, presented Harry Miles with his Silver Wolf at the County Scout Rally in Godmanchester in July 1962 after 56 years service.

INFORMATION: All past and present scouts are invited to the celebration and exhibition, which include details about the scouts, at the Commemoration Hall in Huntingdon on Saturday from 10.30am to 3pm. More volunteers to help run scout groups are always needed. Contact Chris Ward on 07803 023862.

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