Leigh Scouts – Scouting in Leigh – How it began

The following article was written by H V Wood for Leigh Parish Magazine May 1983

I thought it might be of interest of recall the earliest days of scouting in Leigh.  We have now had Scouts in thr village continuously for seventy years.

It was in 1913, only five years after Baden-Powell started the movement, that Mr Geoffrey Hope Morley asked Mr Hubert Russell of South View if he would start a Scout Troop in Leigh.  Mr Russell, an energetic man with a strong sense of public commitment, agreed.

He got together half a dozen or so boys and formed the Hound patrol with George Ford as Leader.  They met, in those early days, in the Vicarage stables, now ‘Inglenook’.  Other boys quickly joined and a second patrol, the Peewits, was formed with George Bennett as Patrol Leader.  We are happy to have Mr Bennett still with us in the village.  He was No. 2 in the original register.  Mr Tim Lee, Mr Charles Martin of Causeway and Mr Jack Jempson of Boughton Monchelsea, were also members in those early days.

It was not long before a permanent headquarters was provided by bringing part of the corrugated iron workshop at ‘The Woods’ in which Miss Heath had held woodcarving classes for young men in the village, to a site near the Waterworks in Kiln Lane.  This room still forms part of the present Scout hut.

Mr Russell was now assisted by his daughter, Doris, a very unusual thing in those days for a young lady to be admitted to the movement.

The boys uniform consisted of flannel khaki shirt, blue serge shorts, leather belt with fleur-de-lis buckle, navy blue socks with green band, green tape garters, dully green scarf and the familiar Baden-Powell broad brimmed hat.  A five foot ash staff marked in feet and inches was always carried.

A notice board outside the Headquarters displayed each week the current activities, signed by the Scoutmaster.  A typical week might read:

Monday: Electricians class.

Tuesday: Signallers class.

Wednesday: Hobbies (mainly fretwork).

Thursday: troop meeting.

Friday: First aid – Dr Fraser.

Saturday: Collection of waste paper.

The waste paper collection during the years of the Great war was made in a splendid, easily assembled trek-cart with slim wooden wheels on a spring axle.  The base could be used as a table by inserted scout staves into sockets at each corner and tightening a thumb screw.  The sides could be joined to form a long ladder.  One popular exercise was to take the trek-cart to the bottom of the park and use its parts to bridge the brook.

Camping took place in the deer park near the Wood Lodge at Hall Place.

All this activity, with uniform provided, for one penny per week, per boy!

H. V. Wood (May 1983)