The Camping Ground – Frith Grange

The Camping Ground, not known as Frith Grange until some years later, was acquired by lease from Finchley Borough Council in 1934.

The site has over the years seen many changes and has been the venue for many camps and District events. It is probably fair to say that every member of the District has at some time been there at least once, with most having spent some time under canvas.

The District is fortunate to have the use of this open space that provides an attractive venue for outdoor Scouting activities of all kinds, and a place that creates happy memories for so many.

After Finchley Lodge was sold in 1990 Frith Grange became the District Headquarters for Finchley, Friern Barnet and Golders Green. Following the 2008 merger it is now the District HQ for Barnet Borough District Scouts.

A local Camping Ground had for some time been an idea in the minds of Finchley Scouters, and in June 1934, through the tireless efforts of Mr G A Ballinger, the District Commissioner at the time, Finchley Council offered a piece of land in Frith Lane to the Association for use as a Camping and Training Ground at a rental of £10 p.a.

The land in question had once been part of the ancient Manor of ‘Frythe’, one of the Manors into which Hendon was divided in the tenth century. All the land was at one time owned by the Westminster Abbey Authorities but was now in the possession of Finchley Borough Council.

It was thought that “In a rapidly-growing town such as Finchley, the facilities for practising the work of backwoodsmen diminished as the housing estates grew. With fields retreating farther away every year it was becoming increasingly difficult to find suitable places for outdoor Scouting.” The ground was also considered to be within walking distance of all of the Finchley Scout Groups’ Headquarters (15 at the time). Despite only having an initial agreement for one year, although future requests for a longer period were thought to be looked upon sympathetically, the Executive Committee accepted the offer.

There was plenty of work to be done in preparing the area, trees to be removed, a pond to be filled, water to be laid on and huts to be built. Rules for its use also had to be drafted.

In September William Kelsall was asked to take on the role of Camp Warden, which he did, undertaking the task enthusiastically. The Executive Committee discussed the cost of the site’s upkeep and eventually suggested that they sought agreement at the Annual General Meeting for a capitation fee to be levied at the rate of 4d per Cub, Scout and Rover. When the matter was debated at the AGM in October it was resolved that the fee would be 2d per Cub, 4d per Scout, 6d per Rover and one shilling per Leader.

Much of the work, under the direction of William Kelsall, was being done by volunteers and in particular Rovers from the District. By January plans for sanitation had been drawn up.

About the same time arrangements were also being made for the Scouts to be involved in King George V’s Silver Jubilee celebrations. The Scouts would light a Beacon, one of thousands across the County during the evening of Jubilee Day. They had initially wanted to perform this task at the Gun Station (previously occupied by the Anti-Aircraft Battery during the war) in Summers Lane, but the Local Council would not provide permission. As a result it was decided that the Beacon would be lit at the Camping Ground – its first major event.

Although some Scouts were already using the Ground, including for camping, there was still much work to be done preparing it to the required standard. Rovers were asked to provide more help, which they did in two ways. The first was by providing manual labour but they also performed a couple of concerts to raise much needed funds.

On the 6th May the Scouts’ Beacon was duly lit, in the presence of more than 1,000 people. After it was lit a certificate was sent to Buckingham Palace that read 

“The Jubilee beacon at Finchley is alight. All’s well. The Scouts of Finchley send loyal greetings to his Majesty.” The event was considered to have been an outstanding occasion, as reported in the District’s Annual Report.

At the end of May the Camping Ground was again to the fore when it was revealed that the cost of providing sanitary accommodation would be in the region of £110. There were lengthy discussions about how this would be paid for. Imperial HQ was prepared to lend £100 over a 3 year period at 4% interest but wanted personal guarantees. Members of the Executive thought this might be an issue and eventually decided to offer shares at £1 each. The idea was that the monies would be paid back over varying periods of 1 – 10 years with each shareholder receiving an additional 2 shillings.

In October it was decided that the Camping Ground would be officially opened on the 23rd May 1936. Although permanent camp sites were available by the end of the year, there was still work to be done, including making the arrangements for the big day.

In March the District Commissioner headed the organising committee and William Kelsall was naturally put in charge of the ground. A number of sub committees were also created covering finance, reception, display, publicity, camp fire, fairground and catering.

Posters were produced and programmes were printed. All Groups agreed to take part in the arena displays and help with the sideshows, and a camp fire was arranged to start at 9 p.m.

The Mayor, Alderman S Pulham, duly declared the Camping Ground open at 3 p.m. in the presence of a large crowd and a good time was had by all. The occasion was widely covered by the press.

At the end of the year it was announced that three Scouters from the District had been awarded the Medal of Merit for their good service to the Movement over a number of years. The recipients were Mr Ballinger the District Commissioner, ‘Pop’ Barclay of the 10th Finchley and William Kelsall the Camp Warden. William was not only the Camp Warden but also a badge examiner and the primary organiser of the annual Cadogan Shield competition. These were the first ever Medals of Merit awarded in Finchley.

During May of 1937 it was decided to buy back ten of the shares that had been issued and a draw was made to determine which ten. In accordance with the agreement each person received back their £1 together with the additional two shillings that had been agreed.

Much behind the scenes work had been taking place with regard to the proposed camping ground lease. Following negotiations between the Council and a local firm of solicitors it was announced, at the beginning of July, that this had finally been formalised with the District being granted a lease for a period of 21 years.

Over the next couple of years all Groups made use of the Camping Ground and improvements to the facilities were continually being made. Showers and a wash table were erected with the District Rovers providing much of the help that was required.

In June 1938 every Group took part in the ‘Good Turn Rally’ that was held at the Camping Ground. This event was held to raise money for the Boy Scouts Fund, opened as a national tribute to the work of the Chief Scout, Lord Baden Powell, so that for all time Scouting would be financially secure. The event was opened by the Mayor of Finchley, Alderman A T Pike and, in addition to a number of sideshows, several Groups put on displays in the arena, before the event closed with a campfire in the evening. The event was considered a great success with £45 being raised; this allowing for inflation would be the equivalent of £2,400 today (2023).

During the National Emergency in 1939 the number of campers dropped, despite a Sixers’ Camp being held that was attended by more than 70 Cubs and Scouters. A table was produced for the District’s annual report that showed the number compared to the previous year.

Shares had continued to be bought back at regular intervals but following a draw made in April 1940, it was announced that due to the current state of the funds repayment would need to be postponed until after the war. Whilst it could be assumed that this did happen, no further mention of the share issue has been found.

The initial impact of the war upon the Camping Ground was twofold. There was for a while a ban on tents that meant there was no camping during 1940 but, due to issues relating to Group meetings taking place in the usual locations there was an increase in the number of weekend meetings at the Camping Ground.

During 1941 the Army requisitioned the Camping Ground but thanks to the cooperation of the local C.O. it was possible to retain use of the huts and a small portion of land. With hindsight this was an excellent outcome as it ensured a presence by Scouters when the Army were not using the Ground and it still provided a place for Groups to meet. This was especially important as the newly formed Air Scouts held their weekly meetings there every Sunday morning.

At the end of 1942 there was sad news. William Kelsall, who had been the Camp Warden for 8 years, died at the age of 75. An obituary expressing the District’s great loss appeared in the local press.

Cyril Allen became the new Camp Warden and, along with some of the Rovers and Scouters who had not been enlisted, spent the remainder of the war trying to repair and limit the damage being caused to the Ground by the Army.

By 1946 the Camping Ground had still not been derequisitioned and much more attention was required to keep it in a viable condition. Although District events were being held there, the number of Groups using the facility had declined. Despite this a Scout Group from Derbyshire used the site for their summer camp.

During 1947 there were rumblings as to whether the District still needed the Camping Ground and after much debate it was decided to send a questionnaire to all the Groups. A copy of the questionnaire and the responses cannot currently be found. When the District Rovers became aware of this they pointed out that, coincidentally, the 4th Finchley Crew had just decided to provide regular service and wanted a list of the tasks that needed to be undertaken.

At the end of the year the District was advised that the Army wished to purchase the majority of the land (2.291 acres) that they had been using. Further discussions took place and after taking into consideration the extensive works that would be needed to repair the land if not sold, the request was agreed. This was subject to conditions, the main ones being that the rights of compensation from the War Department were protected, that fencing on the north boundary was replaced and finally, that to compensate the Association for the loss the Council should lease the copse on the east side of Frith Lane abutting the golf course (approx. 1.6 acres) for the remainder of the Lease granted in September 1937 for 21 years.

By February 1948, following Cyril Allen’s appointment as District Commissioner in 1946, there was still no new Camp Warden. As the 4th Finchley had been providing most of the Crews that were helping Bob Hunt agreed to take on the job for a limited period. However, it was not too long before Edward Amies (Rikki) took over the role on a permanent basis.

At the District AGM in May 1948 a resume was given about the negotiations that had taken place with the following additional remarks:

“It is felt that our Camping Ground will be a much more worthwhile site in the future and gain the renewed enthusiasm and support of all ‘Scouts’ in the District, as sites will now be available from which there are no buildings in sight and the Gas Works will be a welcome loss to the outlook from each tent. 

In obtaining these added facilities for the District the Executive confidently look for the support of all Scouters and particularly the Rovers as it is desirable that the Wardens Crew be reformed as soon as possible to undertake the necessary work on both grounds. We can then look forward to making the full facilities available for use next spring, not only to our own boys but to the Movement as a whole and thereby create a real ‘Good Tum’ to everyone. 

This report would be incomplete without a sincere word of appreciation for the very friendly cooperation of the Town Clerk, the Council and the Finchley Golf Club and it is hoped that their confidence in us will on be further strengthened by the proper regard and care of the facilities which they are entrusting to us.”

In November a letter was received from the Council stating that it was now in order for the Association to take possession of the piece of land on the east side of Frith Lane.

In April 1949 the District announced:  

“A new lease was granted to the Association covering the original one and quarter acre field and about two acres of woodland on the east side of Frith Lane, now known as ‘The Spinney’; a grand place for wide games, nature and woodcraft training and containing variety of trees, many of the oaks are nearly three hundred years old.” 

And, in the annual report there was the following short paragraph:

“A very attractive stretch of woodland adjoining the Golf Club has now been added to the facilities for camping at Frith Lane. Work has commenced on clearing and preparing Troop sites and much healthy and strenuous work lies ahead in making the new ground a first class centre for outdoor Scouting.”

The 2nd July was set as the day for the official opening of The Spinney and Sir Percy Everett, the Deputy Chief Scout, agreed to perform the ceremonial duty. Anyone wanting to attend had to buy a programme in advance at a cost of 6d. There were plenty of sideshows and playlets were performed by the 15th Finchley depicting the early days of Scouting. The 10th Finchley also performed some highland dancing while members of the 4th Finchley and Air Scouts gave a pioneering demonstration. A camp fire in the evening rounded off the event.

The following day a special Scouts’ Own was held at the Camping Ground. It was a Service of Thanksgiving for 40 years of Scouting and the Rev. A Chris Heath, Chaplain of St Paul’s Hammersmith, gave the address.

Although the Rally was considered to be a great success there was still some concern about the lease and the amount of work that needed to be done to restore the ground to its pre-war condition. Negotiations continued with the Council about the lease and the War Office about compensation.

In the meantime the Scouts’ Camping Competition was held there and Groups started to make more use of the facilities. A Warden’s Crew was formed and with the help of the Rovers the never ending list of tasks was tackled.

During February 1950 the Council finally confirmed that a new 21 year lease had been agreed. With all alterations to the grounds needing sanction the Executive wasted no time in obtaining the necessary permission to erect gates from Frith Lane into the Spinney.

There was much concern during the year for the safety of Cubs and Scouts crossing the road to get from the Camping Ground to the Spinney. Requests were made for a ‘Children Crossing’ sign but they were continually refused. At one time it was suggested that the Council could provide slots in the road so that the Warden could erect a temporary sign whenever the Camping Ground was being used, but this was also refused.

In February 1951, after very lengthy negotiations, £126 – just over £3,300 in today’s money (2024) – was received from the War Office as compensation for the damage that had been done to the Camping Ground during the war. An additional claim for damage to the huts and latrines was settled a couple of months later by way of a £10 ex-gratia payment.

Over the next couple of years improvements were slowly being made with more camping taking place. Apart from some of the fencing to the Spinney being replaced, following damage during road widening, there is nothing to note until March 1953 when there was talk about sharing the Camping Ground with St Pancras District.

There had, some years earlier, been a loose on-off agreement, but something more formal was wanted. A sub-committee was set up to sort out the financial arrangements and Wardens’ duties, with the agreement being reviewed every three years. However, before the ground could be used to any extent urgent work needed to be carried out. This included renewing the entrance gates, thoroughly overhauling the water supplies and showers, removing and renewing the roof of the store shed, glazing roof lights and 16 window panes, renewing manhole covers and other matters to safeguard the property.

The agreement worked well and the ground was used on a regular basis without any known issues. At the start of 1955 though there was extensive damage done to the huts and latrines which resulted in the Camping Ground being closed for about three months while repairs were carried out.

During October John Caithness, known to everyone as ‘Mac’, took over as the Camp Warden. The Camping Ground rules were revised and the ‘Duster’ coloured scarf, first used in the 1930s, was reintroduced for Crew members to wear. (At present we are unsure as to what colour the word ‘Duster’ refers; it may be orange, as this is the colour mentioned in 1969 [see below].) There was also another round of general repairs and improvements, including the construction of an incinerator.

Over the 1956 Easter weekend an arch was constructed at the entrance to the Camping Ground. Although there does not appear to be any written record of this, some photographs have been found.

Towards the end of the year there was talk about giving the Camping Ground an official name and the Service Crew suggested ‘Frith Grange’. Although there were some other suggestions ‘Frith Grange’ was formally approved by the District Executive.

Following the official announcement at the start of 1957 about the Camping Ground, the local press produced a short item about the old ‘Frith Grange’ that was part of the old Frith Manor. The Council confirmed that they had also formally noted the name Frith Grange in all of their records.

Although there are several records that confirm that more use was being made of Frith Grange it is worth mentioning an event in June. As part of the District’s ‘Scouting Jubilee’ celebrations more than 300 Scouts and Guides attended a special campfire, despite apparently very poor weather.

In July it was proposed that part of Frith Grange should be railed off to create a camp chapel. This was generally agreed and within a short time this was implemented followed by a service of dedication.

As the year progressed Frith Grange became more popular with campers and there are a number of records that show that it was even used by Scouts from overseas. There was also a letter from the County asking the DC to confirm its size and asking if it was suitable for Cub camping. The DC confirmed that the field covered approximately 1½ acres and the Spinney 2 acres. Although it had been the venue for Sixers’ Camps and Finchley Cub Packs had used the site for camps, he advised County that not more than 12 Cubs could be accommodated in the event of wet weather.

In February 1958 St Pancras District decided that they no longer wished to share Frith Grange so the agreement was terminated.

Following requests made by the Rovers during the previous 18 months Pioneering gear was purchased, although this may have been hastened by the District’s proposed Pioneering Display at the forthcoming North West Area Rally and visit by the Chief Scout.

In November it was reported that the large hut needed renovation work but there is no note as to how this was going to be tackled or paid for.

Lengthy correspondence followed notification from the War Office, in April 1959, that one of the huts at the Camping Ground overlapped their land and that they wanted rent. The sum that they wanted was deemed unreasonable and thanks to help from Sir John Crowder, the MP for Finchley, the matter was settled in May when a rental of one Guinea per annum was agreed.

On the 11th July the District held an Open Day at Frith Grange, with nearly all Groups taking part. The Mayor was in attendance and he opened the new Cub Hut. Other events that took place during the day included a Trek Cart Race and a Tent Pitching contest where the Scouts were blindfolded. However, one activity that attracted a lot of interest was a model of the Skylon, an exhibit from the 1951 Festival of Britain, that the 23rd Finchley Senior Scouts built using Pioneering Poles.

There is an interesting note in the District Executive minutes for January 1960. It says ‘That while we were very appreciative of the work and help of the ladies, the formation of a Ladies’ Crew was unnecessary and could not be permitted.’ How times have changed!

In July 1960 ‘Mac’, who was not only the Camp Warden but also the GSM of the 9th Finchley, was awarded the Medal of Merit in ‘recognition of outstanding service’.

Keeping the Camping Ground in a fit state at the same time as trying to make improvements was hard going, especially as the site got more usage. There is though nothing major to report covering the next two years, apart from perhaps a very successful Barbeque that the Senior Scouts held in July 1961. Nearly 200 people attended the event that was held to raise money towards the cost of Finchley’s participation in the International Patrol Adventure, a slight variation on the International Patrol Camps that had been held in 1951 and 1955.

In May 1962 a list of work that needed to be done was compiled with an estimated cost of £110. The Executive Committee gave approval but wanted it to be properly prioritised.

The Committee were also faced with the fact that all the fencing to the Spinney, which included the Council’s section, needed replacing. They approached the Council to see if they would do all the work and bill the Scouts accordingly. However, the Council later said that no funding was currently available but may be in the next financial year.

During October 1962 the Eastern Electricity Board laid a mains cable along Frith Lane and ‘Mac’ asked if a supply line could be provided to Camping Ground. After receiving a quote of approximately £50 to undertake the work it was decided not to proceed.

The winter of 1962–1963, known as the Big Freeze of 1963, was one of the coldest winters (defined as the months of December, January and February) on record in the United Kingdom. This is only being mentioned as we are in possession of a few photographs showing how the snow enveloped Frith Grange.

By March 1963 the original estimate for the repairs had been exceeded and a new estimate of £170 was given for the completion of the work. The expense was considered to be justified but it was suggested that consideration should be given to purchasing a new Cub Hut due to the condition of the current one.

By April it had been decided that the Warden and Crew would erect the Spinney fencing and the necessary materials were purchased. 

During the same month the DC (Cyril Allen) complained about the untidy state of the site and the amount of rubbish that needed to be properly disposed of. A month later he again gave an adverse report, this time saying that the sanitary arrangements were very bad. As a result of this more volunteers came forward and by June the plumbing had been sorted, cesspits had been emptied and various working parties were organised to carry out work during the second half of the year.

At the start of July the 12th Finchley Senior Scouts and Rovers organised another Barbecue, this time to raise money towards the cost of sending the two Finchley Scouts to the World Jamboree in Greece. As an added attraction Christine Evans, Finchley’s Carnival Queen, was invited as the Scouts’ guest of honour.

Peter ‘Jumbo’ Davis led one of the working parties trying to improve the site and he and his team managed to refit the interior of the Warden’s Hut and provide a bunkhouse for the Crew. The exterior was also repainted. 

By the end of the year some members of the Executive expressed concern about the pressure being put upon the Camp Warden saying that he was still running a Group while the duties of the Warden were now far heavier than when he took on the job. The DC was asked to see if the Warden might like relief from the job.

‘Mac’ relinquished the position of Camp Warden in January 1964 but still continued to provide invaluable support, and ‘Jumbo’ became the new Warden.

The main event at Frith Grange in 1964 was the Open Day on Saturday 4th July. 16 Groups took part with some giving Arena Displays, including one by the 12th Finchley Senior Scouts crossing an imaginary river with a Trek Cart. Other Groups provided a variety of Sideshows.

As in 1963 the Open Day was preceded with a Barbecue and Dance on the Friday evening. Unfortunately the evening turned sour after most people had gone home, when a gang of about 20 hooligans arrived and began to cause trouble. By the time the police arrived most of the gang had disappeared, leaving two Scouters badly injured.

There were two consequences of the weekend’s events. The first was that the District was given the opportunity of purchasing, for £25, the Marquee that had been used, which they did. The second was that the installation of a telephone was authorised.

The main event of 1965 was again the Barbecue and Open Day, held on the 9th and 10th July respectively. Although the Open Day was considered to be a great success it did not prove to be financially successful, this being attributed to the poor weather.

The year as a whole had been one of general maintenance with representatives from all Groups forming part of the Service Crew. There were no major alterations although among the new facilities was a First Aid Hut and the telephone.

Once again, the Open Day dominated the events at Frith Grange during 1966, which this year provided a profit of just over £200. In the minutes of the November 1966 Executive Meeting there is reference to the cost of acquiring a new hut, measuring 60ft x 20ft, for the Camping Ground. Estimates had been obtained for a concrete building and a red cedar wood one, both involving an initial cost of nearly £2,000. It was suggested though that before anything could be done a new lease for the site should be obtained.

A month later it was reported that the red cedar wood hut was the preferred choice with the cost not expected to exceed £2,000. Allowing for inflation that would be the equivalent of about £31,500 today (2024).

No record can currently be found confirming that the Executive Committee decided to go ahead with the plan for a new hut, but in February 1967 it was announced that there would be a sponsored walk in April to raise funds for it. It would also be run as a competition with there being individual winners for Scouts (20 miles), female Scouters (40 miles) and Senior Scouts & male Scouters (50 miles) as well as team competitions.

Away from the new hut, which again dominated matters relating to the Camping Ground, the decision was made to increase the camping fees to one shilling per camper per night. By bringing the fee into line with HQ camping sites it was hoped that the additional income would help to cover the general increase that there had been in maintenance costs.

In March it was announced that the Open Day at Frith Grange would be on the 10th June with the theme being the Wolf Cubs’ Golden Jubilee. All profits would go towards the new hut.

A month later the Council wrote to enquire if there would be any grant applications. This had not yet been done but the plan was to do so through the Local Youth Committee.

The sponsored walk duly took place on the 29th April and the results were published in the May bulletin. It was thought that the 80 walkers had raised £500 but a figure of £441 was later confirmed.

The Open Day was a great success with all Groups taking part and plenty to keep the 1,000 plus visitors entertained. The local press reported that there was a profit of £270 resulting in the Hut fund being increased by £185.

During July the Council sent a letter giving permission to build a hut and at the same time asking if the District was prepared to pay an increased rental of £50 pa (previously £10), if a new lease for the Camping Ground was approved.

Three months later the Council finally confirmed that they had approved a new lease of 28 years and at the same time confirmed that planning permission was given for the new hut.

By the start of 1968 it was apparent that matters were not going as smoothly as was thought. The new lease was dependent upon the building of the hut and it was believed that this could not be guaranteed without sufficient funding, some of which was expected to be received by way of a grant.

The first attempt to obtain a grant from the Council was declined on the basis that there were sufficient assets that could be realised. The DC pointed out that the interest from the assets was needed for the general maintenance of the District Headquarters.

At the end of March Cyril Allen resigned as the DC and was replaced by Tom Marshall.

Around the same time Mr R Pett was chosen to lead the committee responsible for raising the necessary funds for what was now being referred to as the New ‘Training’ Hut. One of his first ventures was to launch a scheme called ‘Buy Yourself a Hut’. With the quantity and cost of all the building materials having been calculated, everyone had the opportunity of buying something that they could afford, thereby making a tangible contribution to the actual hut. A promise was also made to incorporate the names of all subscribers into the foundations for prosperity.

Following Tom Marshall’s appointment as the new District Commissioner he asked ‘Jumbo’ to be the ADC responsible for Leader Training. In May ‘Jumbo’ resigned as the Camp Warden and that role was taken by Bill Pratt, who held no other position in Scouting.

In June there was sad news when it was reported that Cyril Allen had died. He had been the DC for 21 years and had played a prominent part in the decision to build a new hut at the Camping Ground.

As part of the new lease agreement there was a discussion about who the Trustees should be and in the end it was thought best that it should be the Scout Association Trust. A local firm of solicitors had also been engaged to complete all the formalities.

There was no Open Day during 1968 to raise additional funds but in October it was announced that £163 14s 4d had been subscribed through the ‘Buy Yourself a Hut’ scheme, although the final amount was later revealed as £183 10s 4d.

Towards the end of the year it was also confirmed that two grants had been obtained, one for £500 from The Ministry of Education and the other for £250 from the local council.

At the start of 1969 everyone was confident that the new hut would be erected during the year and it was initially hoped that it would be formally opened during the Open Day on the 31st May. Work commenced on clearing the ground where the hut was to be sited.

During March Bill Pratt appointed 4 Assistant Wardens with each being responsible for one weekend a month. It was also agreed that Service Crew members would have their own scarf which would be orange with a finch badge being sewn on the back. At present it is not known whether this was the same colour as the ‘Duster’ scarves that were previously issued (see reference in 1955 above).

Unfortunately there was a delay with the hut and it was apparent that it would not be ready for the Open Day. Nevertheless, the Open Day was seen as the last opportunity to raise additional funds and a big effort by all of the Groups was called for. A couple of newsletters were issued setting out the plans for the day, the last of which confirmed that the 14th Southgate Championship Band were going to perform, as well as listing 14 sideshows that would be run by individual Groups.

About 700 people, including Councillor Vic Usher, the Mayor of Barnet, attended the Open Day which raised £170. A report and photo appeared in the local press.

At the District AGM earlier in May, Bill Pratt said that a motor mower was urgently needed at the Camping Ground. He had the idea of obtaining one using Green Shield Stamps and asked everyone to make a donation. This request was repeated in the June issue of the District Bulletin and later reported on in the local press. A slow start was made but regular donations throughout the year were received.

Work finally started on the hut at the start of July and was expected to be completed by the end of the month.

At the District Executive meeting in July the subject of providing electricity to Frith Grange was again discussed and again the cost of bringing cables into the Ground was considered unreasonable. Obtaining a generator for lighting was thought possible but there was some concern about the cost of the wiring.

At the same meeting it was agreed to name the new ‘Hut’ after Cyril Allen.

Although no official note can currently be found in the District records there was a significant delay in the building of the hut. A press item at the start of September stated that some of the sections had not been delivered. 

In the end the job, apart from the snagging list, was finished during October and plans were made for the official opening that would take place on 1st November with the Mayor performing the ceremony. Mr Pett issued a final thank-you newsletter that gave details of the opening ceremony, a summary of the funds that had been raised and reference to the interior work that would need to be done, which included how it was going to be lit.

As planned the opening ceremony took place on the 1st November 1969. Each Group provided three Scouts and three Cubs for a Guard of Honour and the 3rd Friern Barnet, who had recently won the District Camping Competition, provided a camping display.

The Mayor, Councillor Usher, duly unveiled an inscribed box which recorded the occasion and disclosed that the building was called the Cyril Allen Hut, after the late DC. The Mayor said that the box was the work of Mr Pett and contained the names of all who had contributed over the years to the funds raised to build the hut.

Note: It was necessary to remove the box, with its faded inscription, from the hut a few years ago and it is now (2024) in storage for safe keeping.


More to follow.


Click here to view associated photographs and press cuttings

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