25th Finchley

Although the 25th Finchley was only in existence between 1956 and 1969 they made a valuable contribution to Scouting in the District.

During September 1956 a Cub Pack was started at the Congregational Church in East Finchley. The boys were under the leadership of Miss Shirley Greenstreet but it is not known whether they started at her behest or that of the Rev. E J Baker, Minister of the Church. David Griffin and Jill Powley appear to have also assisted with the Pack.

The venture was a success and in October the District Executive was asked to approve the Group’s registration. This was agreed and they were to be sponsored by the Church, known as the 25th Finchley with their scarves to be red and yellow halves.

In February of the following year a special Pack meeting was held during which 9 Cubs were invested although it is not clear as to whether they were the first, as by the end of March, the census return states that there were 19 Cubs and 3 leaders.

With 1957 being the Golden Jubilee of Scouting, members of the movement in Finchley held several special events, including a number of Group open days at their headquarters. Despite being less than a year old the 25th joined in, by not only holding an event of their own but also joining the 4th Finchley at one of theirs.

By the time of the census in March 1958 the number of Cubs had risen to 25. The number of leaders had increased to 5 and still included Shirley who had only a few weeks earlier married David Griffin.

In June the Cubs won the Lady Peat Trophy at the annual sports day. An excellent achievement considering the Pack was still in its formative years.

Later in the year the Scout Troop was formed. There are notes in the District records that show Edward Marvel as being appointed the Group Scout Master (GSM) in July and, Dennis Jeffrey and John Wildman gaining Assistant Scoutmaster warrants early the following year.

In November, Edward’s daughter Gillian joined the Pack as an Assistant Cub Master.

The Group continued to grow and at the time of the 1959 census there were, in addition to the GSM, 18 Cubs with 5 leaders and 7 Scouts with 2 leaders. A month later the Church had the honour of hosting the District St. George’s Day Service which was conducted by the Rev. Baker.

Later that year David and Shirley Griffin left the Group and moved away. They both received a Thanks Badge for the work they had done, and Shirley was later made an Honorary Cub Master. Gillian Marvel then took over as leader of the Pack.

Over the following year numbers continued to grow: Cubs increased to 24 and Scouts went up to 15. The Troop consisted of 3 Patrols with the Patrol leaders being Malcolm Hodges (Bulldogs), Keith Stevens (Panthers) and Peter Taylor (Penguins). Peter Joiner was the Troop Leader.

During July Peter Taylor had the honour of being chosen as one of the Scouts from the District to line the route being taken when the Queen opened Baden-Powell House on the 12th.

The Troops first Summer Camp was in Foxton, near Market Harborough in Leicestershire and covered 8 nights during August 1961. There is no camp log but the minutes from the Court of Honour cover some of the preparation.

Although Cub numbers remained high the number of Scouts declined slightly and this was not helped by Peter Joiner leaving to join the Senior Scouts of the 1st Finchley. Also, as a result of the decline in numbers, it was necessary to disband the Panther Patrol.

Towards the end of the year the Group saw the arrival of 2 new leaders; Kathleen Butterworth as an assistant Cub Master and Mick Lidster, initially as an Assistant Scoutmaster but later as the Scoutmaster.

During May 1962 Mick went camping for the first time with some of the Scouts, three to be precise: Eric Presland (P/L Penguins), Bobby Joiner (P/S Penguins) and Peter Lawrence (P/S Bulldogs). It was recorded as a training camp for Patrol Leaders and Patrol Seconds and held at Youlbury, a Headquarters Camp Site located close to Oxford.

A month later they were at camp again. The Whitsun camp was held at Redwell Farm, South Mimms with the previous campers being joined by Peter Taylor (T/L), Malcolm Hodges ((P/L Bulldogs), Michael Mooney and Eric Butterworth. From the log book it appears that they had a good time with plenty of activities. They also received 2 visits from Edward Marvel their GSM, one from Cyril Allen the District Commissioner and 2 from Wilf Hewitt.

Another month later there was yet another camp. This was held at Phasels Wood over the weekend of 6th, 7th and 8th July, and billed as one specifically for Tenderfoots. In addition to the Patrol Leaders and Patrol Seconds were Brian Shelley, Peter Olney, Terry Russell and Gerald Langton, all first time campers.

The number of Scouts steadily increased and just prior to the Summer Camp it was decided that the Panther Patrol could start again. However, with only 10 boys attending the camp they decided to wait until after the summer. The camp, between 18th and 26th August was held at Westleigh Farm in Foxton, the same venue as the previous year. They travelled with all their camping equipment in the back of a removal van. The log describes a full programme that included wide games, hikes, sports, excursions and a pioneering session that resulted in a bridge being built across the nearby stream. 

Although Bobby Joiner was at Summer Camp and acting Patrol Leader of the Penguins he appears to have left the Troop shortly after. When the meetings resumed after the summer break the minutes of the Court of Honour confirm that Eric Presland was in charge of the Penguins with Brian Mears as the Seconder, Malcolm Hodges the P/L of the Bulldogs with John Herrington as the P/S and Peter Lawrence the P/L of the new Panther Patrol with Terry Russell as the P/S. Peter Taylor was still the Troop Leader.

By the time of the 1963 census the number of scouts had increased to 23, 19 of whom attended the Whitsun camp at Redwell Farm, South Mimms. Also in attendance, as Quartermaster, was Mr Ellis who along with his wife were the Church Caretakers, and lived next to the Hut. He was an Auxiliary helper with the Group for many years but had not been to camp for more than 30 years.

Within the next couple of months numbers were up again and a new Patrol (Eagles) was formed and more than 20 Scouts then attended the Summer Camp held at South Wood, Houghton, near Arundel

Transport to and from the camp was again by removal van and the log book again confirms that there was a full and active programme. There was hiking, camps sports, a camp fire and pioneering projects. There was also a full day trip that involved a train journey to Portsmouth and a ferry to the Isle of Wight, with a tour of HMS Victory at Portsmouth Dock Yard on the way back.

The GSM, Edward Marvel paid a visit, as did Peter Joiner. Peter, who had once been the Troop Leader before becoming a Senior Scout with the 1st Finchley, had recently gained his Queen’s Scout Badge and was soon to return to the Group as an Assistant.

It is perhaps worth mentioning that in addition to their camps the Troop was also very busy with a number of other events and activities. They helped with Jumble Sales and Church Bazaars, had firework and Hallowe’en parties, paid visits to the Royal Tournament and the London Gang Show and entered District competitions. They were particularly pleased to come 5th out of 19 Troops at the Swimming Gala in 1963.

The Court of Honour minutes also reveal that a tough stance was taken on discipline and correct uniform. All boys were expected to attend Church Parades and if they could not they were expected to write a letter of apology. Those who regularly missed the parades were liable to receive a punishment such as being banned from a weekly meeting.

At the end of the year Peter Taylor left and Malcolm Hodges replaced him as Troop Leader.

1964 got off to a fairly good start with the Scouts gaining 3rd place in the District Cross Country. Their numbers continued to grow and by the time of the census there were 29 with several nearing Senior Scout age. 

Cub numbers remained steady with 24 boys and in March Sheila Killingback who was a helper with the Pack gained her Queen’s Guide Badge. In April and September they gained 2 new warranted leaders – Jill Rowley and Mrs K Butterworth respectively. However, in October Gillian Marvel married and after becoming Mrs Rowsell left the Pack and moved to Essex.

As usual there were two main Scout camps. The first, held over the Whitsun weekend, was at Epping Green, near Little Berkhamsted and attracted more than 20 boys. They had hoped to return to Redwell Farm but this was not possible so Epping Green was chosen after a visit by the Patrol Leaders in March. Saturday’s activities consisted of a four hour hike and a camp fire in the evening. After Church and lunch on the Sunday they did some work for the owner as a thank you, had a water fight, built an aerial runway and relaxed. Not much happened on the Monday apart from breaking camp and preparing all the gear for transport back to Finchley. The only thing that marred the camp was the continual presence of gnats and mosquitoes.

Summer Camp was held at Castlewellan, County Down in Northern Ireland and again attracted more than 20 boys. Both the journey there and back spanned 2 days with the nights being spent on the ferry between Heysham and Belfast. The section of the trip in England was by train with the camping equipment being transported by freight; the section of the journey in Northern Ireland was by coach with the equipment.

Once again the log book, with contributions from a number of boys, provides a comprehensive report about the 2 week camp. Activities included hiking, swimming, backwoods cooking, crazy sports, raft building, wide games and a joint camp fire with the 1st Armagh Troop. Trips were also made to the Mourne Mountains and Dundalk in Ireland and on the penultimate day to Antrim. Unfortunately that last trip was marred by torrential rain that also resulted in their camp site flooding and with them having to spend their last night in a nearby barn.

1964 also saw a number of older boys become Senior Scouts under the guidance of H J Savingar. At the same time the troop created a fifth Patrol (Tigers) and some new names are recorded as the Patrol Leaders – Terry Russell (Panthers), Brian Mears (Eagles), Gerald Langton (Penguins), Terry Naylor (Bulldogs) and Alan Hawkins (Tigers). However, by February 1965 Brian had moved on to Senior Scouts and was replaced by Norman Savinger as P/L.

The year finished on a high with the jointly winning the Swimming Gala (Clarke Shield) with the 22nd Finchley.

In January 1965 Brian Stevens, one of the Assistant Cub Masters, took over as the CM but this was fairly short lived as a few months later he and his wife moved to Chelmsford.

By the time of the census Cub numbers had dropped slightly to 19 but the Scouts had held steady at 27. 6 Seniors Scouts are also recorded.

During May there was a weekend Patrol Leaders camp at Longridge Activity Centre, near Marlow. All 5 P/Ls attended along with Mick, travelling by Land Rover with their kit in a trailer. When not at church or cooking (and eating) they were on the water rowing or canoeing, although they did spend some time in the woods trying to identify as many different trees as possible.

In June the Scouts were able to return to Redwell Farm for their Whitsun camp. About 20 boys attended along with Mick and John Herrington who was now a Senior Scout and took on the role of Quartermaster.

Summer Camp in August was held at Les Maingys on Guernsey. Mick with 20 Scouts and 4 Seniors (Malcolm Hodges, Eric Presland, John Herrington and Brian Mears) travelled by train, boat and coach with the kit being transported in a freight container. Much of their time was spend visiting places of interest, including a trip to Summer Park where they were able to watch the parade of floats made of flowers and then the Battle of the Flowers (the competition for the best display) at which the Troop were asked to help collect the ballot slips.

At the end of the year Terry Naylor left and Michael Mooney became P/L of the Bulldogs. Alan Hawkins became a Senior and Paul Horabik took over as the P/L of the Tigers. Around the same time it was decided to disband the Penguin Patrol and after moving some Scouts to different Patrols their leader became joint P/L of the Panthers with Terry Russell.

On the 2nd January 1966 all 5 P/Ls travelled to the Lake District with Mick for a 2 night stay in order to check the proposed site for their Summer camp. This was owned by the 1st Keswick Scouts and comprised a piece of land at Ashness close to Derwentwater.

In February an Assistant Cub Master warrant was approved for Miss M Daws but by the time of the census their numbers had dropped to 12. The number of Senior Scouts had increased to 9 and although there were 21 Scouts the number dropped over the next couple of months resulting in the number of Patrols being reduced to 3. Gerald Langton had moved on and Terry Russell had become the Troop Leader.

As a result of reduction in Scouts only 14 attended the Whitsun camp at Bush Farm, Little Berkhamsted from Friday 27th May to Tuesday 31st. Despite this the Scouts enjoyed themselves and Wilf Hewitt, who paid them a visit, said that it was the best site he had visited over Whitsun.

As planned Summer Camp was held at Ashness in the Lake District. 13 Scouts formed 2 Patrols and Terry Russell the Senior Patrol Leader acted as the Quartermaster in charge of the provisions. Mick was assisted by Malcolm Hodges who was an acting ASM and Gordon Steadman who was now a Senior Scout who took responsibility for the equipment and the tuck shop.

The site comprised of small field and a hut with 12 bunks and a kitchen area that was used by the leaders. It was located alongside the Beck above Ashness Bridge and the journey there and back was by coach.

The log book is a bit thin on detail but it is known that all the usual camping activities took place including rowing on the lake, as well as a trip on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway and a boat trip. Unfortunately towards the end of the camp they were hit by a severe storm which resulted in the Beck and camp site flooding. It became necessary for everyone to squeeze into the hut during the night. This was presumably the precursor to the terrible flooding that took place a short time later when the Borrowdale Valley flooded and the streets of Seathwaite and thousands of acres of farmland ended up under water.

It is perhaps worth noting the loyalty to the Group that was exhibited by many of the old Scouts. The records show that several were more than happy to help with camps and activities and several acted as assistant leaders with both the Cubs and Scouts. 

Like many of the other Groups in the District the 25th had to come to terms with the changes that were to take place as a result of the Advance Party Report, which meant the age range for each of the sections changed. About the same time Mr Savingar resigned as the Senior Scout Leader. From the records we have, it appears that the Group tried to delay fully implementing the changes for as long as possible.

During November there was a discussion as to where the 1967 Summer Camp should be and Mick suggested that some of the P/Ls should attend the 6th Friern Barnet Open Day to see the slides of their camp in Devon. Some did and were obviously impressed enough to book Ugbrooke Park for the following August.

Also during November the Group lost the use of their Hut and it became necessary for meetings to be moved. Three Groups offered their HQs as a substitute – the 6th Finchley, the 21st Finchley and the 1st Finchley. The 1st Finchley was chosen.

In January 1967 Paul Horabik and Norman Savingar were awarded camping pennants for having spent more than 20 nights under canvas during the previous year.

Despite the issues facing the Troop the Court of Honour continued to hold regular meeting with a number of different subjects being discussed. For example in February Church Parade attendance was discussed as well as future camps, activities and who should be promoted to A.P/Ls.

The census figures for 1967 show the number of Cubs as having increased to 30 with 2 leaders and the number of Scouts dropping slightly to 15 with 2 leaders. However, the number of Senior Scouts is recorded as 10 despite there being no official leader.

Spring Camp was held at Bush Farm, Little Berkhamsted over the last few days of May. There were 15 Scouts and 3 Seniors (Terry Russell, Michael Mooney and Norman Savingar) who went along to help Mick. 

Mud and rain caused problems over the first couple of days but the weather did brighten up for Monday and Tuesday. The only planned activity that did not take place was a hike due to the maps having been left behind.

In July Mick announced that Robert Harmer and John Haworth had been selected to attend the National Patrol Leaders’ Camp, on Brownsea Island, as part of a party of 6 who would represent Barnet in August prior to the Troop’s own Summer Camp. He also advised everyone that the Group would start to wear the new uniforms from October and at the same time start to follow the new testing system.

In August the Troop travelled to Ugbrooke Park for their Summer Camp. 3 Patrols consisting of 18 boys made the journey by coach along with Mick and 3 Senior Scouts (Terry Russell, Gordon Steadman and Norman Savingar).

The log book again provides details of a full and active programme. Visits were made to Newton Abbot and their Cattle Market, Torquay as well as exploring Dartmoor. There was plenty of time for relaxing and games as well as swimming and sunbathing. One day was spent tackling an assault course that the seniors had spent nearly a week preparing and another spent as backwoodsmen when they cooked all their meals without utensils and build shelters for the night. Those that slept in the shelters were Peter Watson, Philip Nott, Stephen Milborn, Alan Warne and Marios Papacostas, while Kevin Savingar and Robert Wright slept under the stars and Leslie Walters up a tree!! The only real down side to the camp was that John Perry broke his arm on the third day when he fell to the ground when trying to traverse a piece of rope suspended between two trees.

Within a week of returning from Summer Camp several of the Scouts attended the Diamond Jubilee Camp at Gilwell Park where they all met the Chief Scout and shook his hand. During the camp there was a raffle for two Scouts to visit Holland in April 1968 as guests of the Dutch Scouts. John Haworth along with a Scout from Wood Green were lucky enough to be the winners.

In the autumn, following the shake-up in the age range for Senior Scouts, three of the older lads; Terry Russell, Gordon Steadman and Riki Nisi became Venture Scouts and joined forces with the 6th Finchley at Avenue House (now known as Stephens House).

During the winter months quite a bit of time was spent doing test work and getting used to the new training programme. Mick reminded the boys that wearing a mix of the old and new uniform was not permitted. 

During February and March several meetings were held at Frith Grange. There was also a wide game that had been organised by Mick for the East Finchley groups (1st, 6th, 16th, 17th and 25th). This involved visiting a number of shops in the area looking for scouting objects that would not normally be there.

There was also a night hike that had been especially planned for those who were working towards the Chief Scout’s Award, now the highest award for those of Scout age. Mick and Peter Joiner accompanied 4 boys (Philip Morcombe, John Haworth, Peter Watson and Robert Harmer) as they trekked around the area close to Ivinghoe Beacon and Tring between dusk and dawn one night.

Also in February Peter Lawrence became an Assistant Scout Leader and had his warrant presented during a Troop meeting.

The Cub football competition was held on the 16th March and emerged as the victors. Their semi-final match was a very tight affair against the 17th Finchley which they won by having had an extra corner kick, after the game had finished 1 – 1. The final though was more straightforward with them beating the 4th by 4 goals to nil.

On the subject of football, the Scouts had put together a team and were challenging a number of different Troops. This was enjoyed by all but Mick was concerned that some of their play was becoming a bit too aggressive. He suggested that ‘they should not play like professionals and remember that they were amateurs and were playing fellow Scout Groups’.

The number of Scouts recorded on the annual census was 20 with 3 leaders while there were also 5 Seniors. The Cub numbers were up to 29 but with only 1 leader they were in need of extra help.

Spring Camp was held at Longridge over the first 5 days of June. With over 1,000 Scouts there it was necessary to share a site. Fortunately this did not spoil the enjoyment and despite the lack of wind for sailing there was plenty of time for canoeing. In addition to passing the canoeing tests for the Advanced Scout Standard and Chief Scout’s Award, several other tests were completed.

A couple of weeks later a few boys returned to Longridge to spend the night fishing. They managed 18 hours and apart from eating and sleeping, the only event of note was the Marlow Regatta Firework Display. They got a good view by climbing a tree (in their pyjamas) late on Saturday night.

After much planning Summer Camp was held in August on Brownsea Island. Mick, assisted by Peter Joiner and 2 Venture Scouts (Terry Russell and Gordon Steadman) took 16 Scouts to the location of Baden-Powell’s experimental camp in 1907. The log book and reports suggest that everyone had a great time although there was a lot of comment about the problems caused by mosquitos. Several trips to the main land were made with visits to Corfe Castle, Bovington Tank Museum and a Power Station.

In September Philip Morcombe and Robert Harmer completed their Chief Scout’s Award, the first two Scouts from the 25th to do so. A couple of months later they received their Awards from Tom Marshall, the District Commissioner, at a special ceremony, along with 4 other Scouts (3 x 5th Finchley & 1 x 17th Finchley).

Several boys also received the County Commissioner’s Camping Pennant for completing 20 nights under canvas during 1968. These were presented during a Troop meeting by Peter Price, the ADC for Scouts.

Shortly after Philip Morcombe gained the Chief Scout’s Award, he along with John Haworth and Peter Watson left the Troop to become Venture Scouts. Like their predecessors they joined the 6th Finchley Unit that was now calling itself The Avenue House Venture Scout Unit (AHVSU).

There were no notable events during the winter months. The football matches continued, there was a talk given about the Police Force and Mick organised another wide game for the East Finchley Groups.

From the records we have there is nothing to suggest that the Group was going to close down, but it did. From what we know, the church shut and sold their land, with the end result being that the 25th amalgamated with the 1st Finchley, with the 25th making up the lion’s share of their membership.

An announcement about the merger appeared in the April 1969 District Bulletin. For the record it is noted that the old church site is now (2022) occupied by Budgens, the supermarket.

There are a couple of post scripts relating to the Group. The first is that in early 1970 the ex 25th Finchley Venture Scouts who were members of the AHVSU left to join the 1st Finchley VSU. And, secondly Philip Morcombe, one of the said Venture Scouts, gained his Queen’s Scout Award in 1972.

 

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Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls