10th Finchley

Note: Some of the information that appears in this article, covering the period up to 1939, has been obtained from ‘History of the Tenth Finchley Scout Group’. Originally produced by A W Hartley in handwritten form, with personal illustrations, it was reproduced as a book during 2014. We are grateful to the 10th Finchley for allowing us to use some of its content.

Some people will tell you that William Laing Barclay (‘Pop’ Barclay as he was known) was the founder of the 10th Finchley. Whilst that might not be entirely true it is fair to say that without him the Group may never have been formed.

The story is that in 1914 ‘Pop’, who was 25 years old at the time, met a man at Muswell Hill Methodist Church, who said his son at St Barnabas, North Finchley was on a committee to consider starting a Scout Troop at the church. Knowing that ‘Pop’ was an Assistant Scout Master (SM) with the 1st Muswell Hill he was asked to attend a meeting to give a talk on Scouting. He was then persuaded to get the Troop going and agreed to go over once a week until an SM could be found. No suitable man was forthcoming so ‘Pop’ gave up his position in Muswell Hill and took on the role himself.

The Group were allocated the number 10. Numbers 1 – 8 were already in use and number nine had been reserved for a Group that was to open at St Luke’s Church (now combined with the parish of St Paul’s Finchley). Their first documented record is from the minute book of a Court of Honour on 22nd December 1914, of a meeting held at the temporary headquarters; the Parish Hall, Gainsborough Road, North Finchley. At that meeting it was agreed that they would wear a khaki coloured scarf for general use but a purple and white one for ceremonies such as church parades.

Initially there were two patrols, the Kangaroos and Cuckoos with the Patrol Leaders being J Costello and E Scott respectively. However, and despite the fact that the war had started, it did not take long for the Troop to grow and for there to be a new patrol (the Otters).

They were also fortunate in being able to find a permanent headquarters at Moss Hall Stables in Nether Street. It comprised not only a large stable but a cottage that served as a Scout club room.

In August 1915 they held a joint summer camp with the 1st Muswell Hill at Yalding, Kent, but because tents were not permitted at the time they slept in an oast house

The outbreak of war had also given the Group the chance to do some real service. Not only did they use their newly purchased trek cart to collect old newspapers but they offered their services as orderlies at the VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) hospital that was to open in the neighbourhood. As a result the Troop provided 2 Scouts each week night and 2 all day on Saturdays and Sundays at King Edward Hall, Church End.

The senior members enrolled as Special Constables and their work included guarding railway signal boxes, junctions and tunnels, although what they liked best was being able to ride their bicycles without lights.

Having borrowed some drums and fifes a band was started but despite the enthusiasm it did not thrive and was discontinued. Nevertheless, they decided that each patrol should have a bugle. The purple and white scarf also did not work out as expected due to laundering problems and the colour was changed to green.

There was a Whitsun camp at Loom Farm in Radlett, that later became a regular venue for short camps. The summer camp was in Stanmore Park and with the site located on a hill it afforded fine views of the air raids over London.

John Costello became the Assistant Scout Master and took control after ‘Pop’ had been ‘called up’.

In November 1916 the Group held a concert at Stephens Memorial Hall. All contributions were from outside artistes apart from a camp fire sing song and a trek cart display with assistance from the 1st Muswell Hill.

During the year they learnt that they were going to need a new HQ. The current facilities were to be sold and to add to that, the water supply was found to contain typhoid germs.

In the early part of 1917 a new home was found, a large stable on ground belonging to Henry ‘Inky’ Stephens opposite King Edward Hall. They called their home ‘Wigwam’ but it had a dilapidated roof which required repairing, at a cost. There was however enough land for a vegetable garden and the produce was sent to the hospital.

John Costello was then ‘called up’, presenting the Troop with a leadership problem. Eventually Miss Griffin volunteered and did an excellent job. About the same time Miss Darrington came forward to look after the newly formed Wolf Cub Pack.

It was not possible to hold a summer camp in 1917 and in early 1918 there were more problems with the ‘Wigwam’. A leaky roof could not be repaired meaning it was time to move on yet again. Their new home, christened ‘Tophole’ was a garage located in a small mews at the main road end of Dollis Park. It consisted of two floors, the ground one being used for occasional meetings and the storage of their gear and trek cart, and the upper floor, accessed by a very shaky wooden ladder, that was used for patrol meetings.

War service duties continued and it is worth noting that seniors Eddie Holiday and Dudley Wright were on coastguard duty and George Millward and Ken Darrington had some sort of job at College Farm. The juniors continued their orderly duties at the hospital and had quite a good time making cocoa, cutting bread, rolling bandages and any other odd job that came their way. Bert Darrington was a great favourite there being on duty almost every evening. He had a bed fixed up on the balcony for his use at such times as he stayed late, which was often.

Around this time Hector Paterson, who had just left the Royal Caledonian School (a residential home and school for Scottish orphans in Bushey, Herts.) wrote to the editor of the ‘Scout’ for a recommendation of a troop he could join. With Hector living in Finchley Road, and without realising the distance, he was advised to get in touch with ‘Pop’. Despite ‘Pop’ explaining the distance issue Hector still wished to join.

The decision of ‘Pat’, as he became known, was a major turning point for the Group. He was a piper and as a result the nucleus of the pipe-band was formed. With several of the seniors being Sea Scouts, parades provided an interesting sight of a piper in Sea Scout uniform leading Sea Scouts followed by the rest of the Troop in ordinary khaki uniforms.

Summer camp was at Ashridge Park, Berkhamsted with about ten boys attending. All the gear was transported on the trek cart and the journey involved a two night stop over at Bushey Hall. The location was being used as an Officer Training Corps centre by the army who took the time to look after the boys and even gave them a tour of the facilities. There are two other noteworthy episodes from that camp. The first being the comical effort of getting the trek cart through the ‘water-splash’ between Mill Hill and Edgware, when a couple of the boys and the kit got very wet. The other being the strenuous day that was spent acting as ‘beaters’ for the keepers during a deer hunt.

In October the Group severed their links with St Barnabas Church owing to the fact that the Group had moved to another part of the district and there were no boys actually attending that church. And, shortly after the Armistice Sam Darrington took over the Scout section while Miss Darrington continued as the Cub leader with Miss Wright as her assistant.

The next major change was the decision to call the Group Scottish. Apart from having a Scottish piper there is no other evidence to suggest why this occurred.

Having broken away from St Barnabas the Rev. David Annal, minister of the Presbyterian Church was invited to become their Hon. Chaplain.

The question of a band was raised again and this time it really took off. Drummers were Wright, Emerson, D Costello and Pateman who received instruction from Sgt Clinch of Christ’s College and the pipers were Paterson (already an excellent piper), Rutherford, Genge and Mackenzie who were taught by a Mr Taylor.

By May 1919 both Miss Darrington and Miss Wright had left and the Cubs were being run by Howard Wells.

The first Rovers were formed in July with the original members being K Darrington, G Millward, D Wright, E Holliday, J Caspell, G H Paterson, H Tinsley, C Wainwright, T Tulk and C Cook. Troop numbers also began to increase as seniors returned, and before long there was something happening every evening, including signalling, gym, swimming and band practice.

Mr Vick, who had become a Vice-President of the Group, due to his being in charge of the hospital and his close friendship with Group, arranged for the troop to use the basement of King Edward Hall. This became their new home although ‘Tophole’ was retained for use by the Cub Pack.

Despite the Hall being dimly lit and poorly ventilated they made it look very presentable with a trophy table at one end and an office for ‘Pop’ tucked away in a corner.

The 1919 summer camp was held at Latimer, Bucks where the lower part of the field was occupied by a Girl Guide camp. One evening there was a severe rainstorm and when the girls were flooded out the boys went over to help them get their blankets under cover.

On 19th November there was a full turn out at St Luke’s Church for the consecration of the King’s Colour. A week later they put on a show at the King Street Mission in East Finchley. It became the forerunner of many such shows and provided a useful testing place for many concert items.

Summer camp in 1920 was held in Jersey. ‘Pop’ had camped there in 1913 with the 1st Muswell Hill and after being demobbed he had a free travelling warrant to go there. He and Gordon Wells visited and were met by Father Hibbs who provided assistance. The militia ground at Don Bridge near St Brelade’s Bay was selected and at the request of Father Hibbs it was agreed that a Group from Southwark would join them.

Upon arrival they were met by the local Scouts and their band, and were lent extra trek carts to transport the gear. Although the boys from the two Groups did not get on well it was considered to be a good camp with lovely weather and trips to most parts of the island.

In 1921 the Group moved the headquarters again, this time to the Gun Station that had been occupied by the Anti-Aircraft Battery during the war. It was located at the corner of Summers Lane and the Great North Road and comprised several wooden huts in a compound about 50 yards square surrounded by a high corrugated iron fence. The largest hut belonged to Finchley Football Club as their ground adjoined the site.

The Rovers acquired for themselves an Armstrong hut – in sections – which they erected for use as a den. It was generally hoped that the Group would be able to buy the freehold but that did not work out.

The 10th were very fortunate with regard to leaders and according to the first census figures that have been found, there were 10 with warrants in 1921. There were also 14 Rovers, 37 Scouts and 30 Cubs.

In June the Troop camped at Bushey Grange Farm and spent a considerable amount of their leisure time at the Caledonian Schools.  The summer camp was again held in Jersey but this time on their own. In total there were 50 members present, including 6 Cubs and, for the first time, a guest from the Caledonian Schools.

The band played as the boat entered St Helier harbour and were overheard by a number of Scottish engineers on a trawler. As a result they offered to take the Group on a trip to Sark, provided the band played during the voyage. The offer was accepted but on the day of the trip the weather was extremely rough, which made playing very difficult. It proved an expensive trip as three drum-skins were broken due to sea water.

‘Pop’ was still intent on finding a permanent headquarters and upon returning from camp Mr Fouracre of the 81st North London (2nd Finchley) advised him that some land in Nether Street, adjoining the LNER railway, was for sale. It covered about three acres but was below ground level and inclined to be swampy in wet weather. 

Mr Denman, the father of three scouts, purchased part of the land and ‘Pop’ bought the remainder, using his own money, for the Group. The Group borrowed £500 and a wooden building was erected, largely by the boys. It was raised on eighteen brick piers to ensure solid foundations and a bridge was constructed to join the footpath with the front door.

The new HQ was named ‘Gordon Hall’ after their patron the Duke of Richmond and Gordon. It measured about 60ft by 30ft with four rooms off the main section.

In 1922 the band had their first important engagement when they were asked to play at the Cardiff Scout Rally.

Easter camp was at the Radlett site and in June they attended the North London Rally at Alexander Palace where they put on a variety of shows, including a trek cart relay race and supplying the band for the Guard of Honour to HRH Prince of Wales.

Summer camp was held at Salcombe, South Devon and is notable for two things. The first is that the camp gear was temporarily lost by the railway company. It had been sent down early and when the advance party arrived on Friday to set up the site it was missing. The main party ended up delaying their departure until Monday. The other reason is that during that camp the Group changed the colour of their scarf to White. Due to the hot weather several Scouts used White scarves on their head for protection, and around their necks when not needed on their heads. It was claimed that being White was more hygienic as it needed cleaning more often and eventually official sanction was obtained for the change.

In February 1923 the Group put on their usual show at Redbourne Hall but it was not very well supported. A month later the concert was much more successful.

The troop wanted to go to Scotland for their summer camp but was concerned about the cost. ‘Pop’ knew Sir Arthur Watson, a Finchley resident and General Manager of LMS Railway, and discussed the issue with him. He was of the opinion that the trip should go ahead and agreed to pay half the cost of the fairs. He made all the reservations under the name ‘General Manager’s Party’ which resulted in them receiving VIP treatment on every journey. While in Scotland an inspector accompanied the boys and at every stop the stationmaster turned out to greet them with tips to porters not being permitted.

The plan was to spend the first week visiting the Isle of Arran and during the second week the Trossachs. They were again unlucky with the weather with a tremendous storm creating havoc during the second night while camping at Glen Rosa. Several lightweight tents became unusable and they ended up huddled in three larger tents. ‘Pop’ approached the Marquis of Hamilton who provided alternative accommodation in a barn at Home Farm.

After an interesting journey at the end of the week they arrived at Brig O’Turk where they were to camp. The ground though was like a wet sponge making it impossible to pitch tents, so once again they slept in a nearby bar. And, once again ‘Pop’ set about arranging for an alternative site. This was in Airdrie where they slept in barns at the home of Professor More. The poor weather continued until the end of the week when they finally made their way home via Edinburgh.

The year ended with two events in December, a parent’s social on the 8th when the Group was able to demonstrate their progress during the year and, a very successful Bazaar on the 16th that had been organised by the parents, which considerably benefited the Group’s funds.


More to follow.



Click here to view associated photographs.


My connection with the Tenth came about in an unexpected manner. Towards the latter part of 1917 the school I was attending issued an instruction that all boys above a certain age would be required to join the cadet corps unless they were scouts. Scouting seemed the most attractive proposition, and as there was a very keen scout in my form named ‘Pip’ Kelsall, I arranged to go along with him one evening and apply for membership. This was not my first introduction to scouting, for I had spent some time previously in the 93rd North London troop, whose numbers were rapidly dwindling owing to lack of leaders.

I also remember that my first meeting with ‘Pop’ Barclay was in a convalescent home off Park Lane, where he had been sent after discharge from a hospital in Manchester. ‘Pop’ had received shrapnel wounds in the leg and was hobbling about with the aid of two sticks. This convalescent home was formerly a club, a vast tomb-like building with the atmosphere of a cathedral, where it seemed sacrilege to speak louder than a whisper. Fortunately we didn’t have to stay long as ‘Pop’ took us all round to the Corner House where we had eggs on toast, fruit salad and cream for tea. How they managed to provide such fare during war-time was a bit of a mystery, but I remember that meal well enough.

Albert W Hartley – 10th Finchley

(Extract from his book – ‘History of the Tenth Finchley Scout Group’)

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“We arrived at Glasgow at ten minutes to seven. We then had another wash and brush up and went to breakfast in Glasgow, as guests of Mr MacGreggor, commissioner for Paisley. We had bacon and eggs, tea, biscuits and bread.”

“On our way to Brodick we passed Rothesay, the Kyles of Bute, Tignabruaich and Corrie. From Brodick we made our way to Glen Rosa, and after fording Rosa Burn, we put up our tents.”

“On Monday morning we took the trek cart to Brodick to get supplies. While we were there we went rowing. In the afternoon we went towards the source of Rosa Burn, and discovered between the huge boulders, a magnificent bathing pool, into which we soon tumbled and had a swim.”

“On Friday after breakfast we cleared up the two sleeping rooms of the barn, and packed our own kit. We then went into Brodick and caught the 3.10 boat (Duchess of Argyle), and sailed to Wemyss Bay calling at Rothesay.”

“After a night in Glasgow we packed our kit when we had finished breakfast and caught the 10.53 train for Balloch Pier. We arrived at Balloch (the foot of Loch Lomond) at 12 o’clock and boarded the ‘Prince George’ a Loch Lomond pleasure steamer. From Balloch we sailed to Inversnaid.”

“When we arrived at Stronachlacher pier we found that the captain of the Loch Katrine steamer ‘Sir Walter Scott’ had kindly waited twenty minutes for us. We were all soaked to the skin, and as we crowded into the cabin it was easily seen that the beautiful lake had lost its charm for many.”

“We soon arrived at our new camping place, Achray Farm, Brig O’Turk. We laid our beds and after a good meal turned in. It rained all day Sunday and there was nothing at all to do but eat and sleep.”

“On Monday we again packed our kit, and at 11.10 we left Brig O’Turk for Callendar. At Callendar Station we caught the 2.53 train to Larbet passing Stirling, and in doing so, obtained a fine view of the Wallace Monument and the castle.”

“We then took the local train to Cumbernauld, where a lorry and hay-cart awaited us. We packed the lorry with kit bags and the first batch of scouts went to Dalmacoulter near Airdrie, where at the home of Mrs More a fine dinner was prepared for us.”

“We walked into Airdrie and took the tram into Coatbridge where we went rowing on a decent lake. We then walked home, a distance of about five miles.”

“On Friday morning we packed up and took the train to Edinburgh, where we stayed at the headquarters of the 49th Edinburgh troop. During the afternoon we took a look round Edinburgh.”

“In the morning we took the train to Euston arriving there at about 6.30. We subsequently arrived home (Gordon Hall) by lorry at twenty past seven.”

“Note: Although it rained hard nearly every day, and we were drowned two or three times each, the eighth scout law, (A scout smiles and whistles under all difficulties) was upheld.”

Snippets from ‘A Trip in Scotland’ a Camp Diary

By Stanley Hartley (aged 16) – 10th Finchley.

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Look up your local Scout Group, because you’ve got a safe, practical community who will encourage and support you.'
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls