14th Finchley (St. Margaret’s)

Note: This article is about the 14th Finchley that was formed in 1952 who were sponsored by St. Margaret’s Presbyterian Church in Finchley. It should be mentioned though that the number 14 had been used on at least two previous occasions.

The first reference to a 14th Finchley in the District records is in 1921. The census states that no return was made by the Group. A year later 14 Scouts and 2 Scouters are noted. However, the next reference is a note in the minutes of the District Executive that implies that 14th Finchley did exist but they were under the control of the London Diocesan Boy Scouts Association (L.D.B.S.A.).

It could be assumed that this Group closed as the registration of a new Group called the 14th Finchley, attached to St Paul’s in Finchley, was approved in 1931. This Group remained in operation until the start of the Second World War when it was unable to continue, presumably through lack of leaders. Although initially being recorded as dormant it never restarted as a stand-alone Group and records show that it merged with the 1st Finchley.


In May 1952 Miss Hazel Cosgrove sent a letter to the District Executive. It covered an application from the Rev. Alun Lloyd Davies for the formation of a Scout Group at St Margaret’s Presbyterian Church in Redbourne Avenue. A Guide Company (3rd West Finchley) attached to the church had already been formed in 1947.

Approval was given and the Group were allocated the number 14. It was agreed that the scarf colours would be blue and grey, with grey being on the right. Hazel was officially granted her warrant in June and it did not take long for her to recruit Kathleen Lumsden as an assistant.

The church was located on Ballards Lane at the corner with Redbourne Avenue, opposite where Popes Garage was and Tesco is now (2023). The Church Hall was attached to the Church and the premises also contained a smaller Hall, known as the Parlour. It was here where the Cub Pack and later the Scout Troop met as well as being shared with the Brownies and Guides, although all the sections managed to get use of the larger hall at some point each week.

The Group appears to have adopted a fairly parochial approach with hardly any reports about their activities appearing in the local press. There is also very little reference to them in the minutes of the District Executive or the District Bulletins. As a result the information given in this article is rather limited.

The Pack flourished under Hazel’s leadership and before long they had held their first church parade and the usual range of activities including a camp at Sandridge near St Albans. By the time of the 1953 census there were 22 Cubs and 2 leaders.

In September 1953 the Scout Troop started. Thomas Harrison, always known as Tom, received a warrant as Group Scout Master (GSM) but ran the Scout Troop with assistance from Ian Davidson who was an ASM with the 6th Finchley. In fact the 6th Finchley were very helpful in getting the Scouts going and over Easter 1954 a joint camp was held at Phasels Wood in Hertfordshire. By then there were 11 Scouts in the Troop and the Cubs were up to 25 with 3 leaders, Jill Hawkins being the additional ACM. 1953 also saw the marriage of Kathleen Lumsden to Eric Tulloch.

The Scouts held their 1954 summer camp at How Caple near Hoarwithy, Ross on Wye to which the 6th Finchley were invited.  The good weather meant that they were able to enjoy warm river swimming in the River Wye.

During 1955 John and Muriel (affectionately known as Mick) Fife joined as leaders, John as an ASM and Mick as an ACM. This resulted in there being 3 Scout leaders and 4 Cub leaders recorded in the census, along with 21 Scouts and 21 Cubs. A few months later Kathleen Tulloch resigned her position as one of the ACMs.

Early in 1956 Hazel became ill and by March, unable to continue running the Pack, resigned her position. She was made an honorary CM and because she was highly regarded by the District she was elected to the Executive Committee. Additionally she was asked to give reports on Cub warrant applications.

By the time of the census seven of the Scouts had become old enough to start a Senior Scouts section and Gordon Cochran became their leader. The other numbers at the time were 19 Cubs with 2 leaders and 15 Scouts, also with 2 leaders.

Over Whitsun the Cubs went camping at Frith Grange, where Cubs from the 4th Finchley and Scouts from the 18th, 20th and 22nd were also camping. Although they camped separately they came together for a camp fire on the Saturday evening and a Scouts’ Own on the Sunday morning.

Later in the year the Senior Scouts went to Denmark. They travelled by ship from Harwich to the Hook of Holland and, as guests of a Danish Troop they spent a week in Copenhagen in the homes of Danish Scouts. During the second week they camped on the Island of Funen. It is reported that on cycling through some woods an irate owner protested that it was private land. Fortunately one of the Senior Scouts had Danish links and so could speak Danish, resulting in good relations being quickly restored. They were then provided with a barn to sleep in overnight and a breakfast in the farmhouse the following morning. It also turned out that the wife of the farmer was originally from North Finchley, so she enjoyed reminiscing about her times in pre-war Finchley.

During the year Alan Forbes became the first member of the Group to gain the Queen’s Scout Badge.

1957 got off to a sad start. Hazel Cosgrove’s illness had become worse and she unfortunately died at the age of 25. The District suitably recorded this sad event.

With 1957 being the Jubilee of Scouting the District and all Groups played important roles in promoting the Movement. Early in the year Groups held open meeting to which members of the public could ‘drop in’ and find out what went on. The 14th did their bit, and a press cutting about the promotion includes details of their contribution.

Around this time there were also a few changes to the leadership team. John Fife became the Group Scout Master and Mick became the Akela. Alan Forbes became an ASM and Susan Vivian joined the Group as an ACM, having previously been a Guide. The third Cub leader was still Jill Hawkins but is thought that she left shortly after getting married.

During July the District hosted a 72 strong contingent of Jamaican Scouts who were on their way to the World Jamboree that was to take place at Sutton Coldfield. During their two week stay the Group, for a short time, enjoyed the visit of Louis Booth, one of the Jamaican Scout leaders.

When the reporter from the Finchley Press visited the Jamboree a group of 14th Finchley Scouts were lucky enough to tag along and were able to get an idea of what a camp with 35,000 Scouts from 85 nations was like.

One of the consequences of the Jamboree was that an Australian Scout Leader by the name of Keith Walter came to live in Finchley with his young wife, and Finchley was to benefit greatly. His wife Allison went to help with the Guide company (2nd West Finchley) at the Congregational Church in Victoria Avenue, and Keith became energetically involved with the 14th Finchley Scouts. On his return to Australia Keith was an active instigator of new ventures through both Scouting and Rotary, always forging new international links. In The Queen’s Birthday Honours List for 1999 he was awarded the ‘Member of the Order of Australia’. The citation read “For service to the community, particularly as a founder of Interplast Australia, and through Rotary International, the Scouting Movement and Local Government.”

Summer camp that year was held at Belchamps, near Hockley, Essex.

The Group continued to thrive and in March 1958 31 Cubs and 20 Scouts are recorded on the census return. Unfortunately the year also saw the resignation of Ian Davidson, the 6th Finchley ASM who had been helping the Group over the previous few years.

The Senior Scouts’ expedition that year involved a 90 mile canoe trip down the Thames from Lechlade to Marlow, followed by a hike to Arundel. The participants were Michael Hanham, Michael Erlebach, Duncan Forbes and Tony Trick, along with the leaders Tom Harrison and Gordon Cochran.

Fortunately the Senior Scouts had kept a log of their adventure as the following year it was announced that the Mayor of Finchley, Alderman A T Pike, had presented a new trophy to the District that would be awarded to the Senior Scouts who carried out the best expedition of the year. It was named The Jubilee Shield to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Scouting in Finchley. The 14th entered the competition and became the inaugural winners of the trophy.

Over the Whitsun weekend the Scouts camped at The Gaze, Essendon and the Senior Scouts went to Bayford Wood a short distance away. The summer camp was held at Cook’s Farm, Marchwood, near Southampton. These regular camps along with a lively and active programme ensured that Group numbers remained high. The 1960 census return reveals that there were 23 Cubs and 28 Scouts, with the Senior Scouts up to 16.

That year the Scouts camped at Leaford Farm, Battle, East Sussex, while the Senior Scouts went to Austria. One of their highlights was a trip over the border to Oberammergau in Germany for the Passion Play, a visit nearly marred because the tickets had been left at home and had to be speedily got to Austria! The play has been performed every ten years (with few exceptions) by the inhabitants of the village following a vow to God, made in the 17th century.

During November Susan and Mick swapped jobs with Susan becoming the Akela and Mick becoming the Assistant.

Susan Vivian married and became Mrs Robert in 1961, Michael Erlebach gained his Queen’s Scout Badge and Summer Camp was held at Great Tower, a national Scout Camp Site close to Windermere.

According to the District records there were a number of new warrants approved for the Scouts during 1962. Joseph Brown, Christopher Hamby and Clive Hailey, who had joined as a Wolf Cub 10 years earlier, became ASMs. Alan Forbes was also recorded as having his warrant as SM approved in May but also resigning in October. Summer camp was held at Corf Scout campsite, Shalfleet on the Isle of Wight.

Between the 3rd and 10th June 1963 the Scouts, together with the 6th Finchley camped at Eighteen Pounder Farm, Three Oaks near Hastings, where they experienced their wettest ever camp. There is also a note in the District records that states that the local Commissioner was prevented from visiting although told by the farmer that he was perfectly satisfied with the standard of the camp and condition of the site.

The Senior Scouts, their number down to only a handful, joined the 11th and 22nd Finchley during the last two weeks of August on a hill climbing expedition. Dunkeld in Perthshire was their base.

Two more leaders had warrants approved during the year; Fiona Meldrum, in June, as an ACM and Robert Forbes, in December, as an ASM.

Early in 1964 Susan Roberts resigned and Alan Forbes became the new CM.

The Scouts’ summer camp that year was much more pleasurable that the previous wet one, and actually received some press coverage. This came with the headline ‘14th Finchley had perfect camp site’, that was located at Crackington Haven, near Bude in Cornwall. Whilst it may have been the perfect site it did not get off to the perfect start. Upon arrival they discovered that their camping equipment had not arrived. The kit was still in the luggage office at Paddington!  British Rail was persuaded to open the office, so that the kit could be picked up late on Saturday night. A team of volunteers with cars went to the station, loaded everything up and then drove through the night to Cornwall and delivered all the tents & cooking equipment in time for breakfast, the Scouts having spent the night in borrowed tents.

There has been very little information about the Group’s involvement in District events but there were a couple noted during 1964. Firstly the Cubs were one of 13 Packs to enter a rounders competition which they won, beating the 6th Finchley in the final, and secondly at the Swimming Gala the Cubs finished 3rd and the Scouts finished 7th.

During the latter half of the year there were some more leadership changes. Fiona Meldrum resigned her position as an ACM and Richard Vivian joined as an ASM. John and Mick Fife also departed with John being made an Honorary GSM.

John’s place as GSM was taken by Gordon Bannerman, a leader who had moved to Finchley from Glasgow, and who had initially been appointed as a District Scout Master.

With leaders becoming harder to find for all sections at many Groups, the Senior Scouts of the 14th met jointly with those of the 4th Finchley. The number of boys also started to fall and following the departure of leaders at the 4th it was agreed, early in 1965, to hold joint meetings for all the sections.

This arrangement worked well and the Scouters of the two Groups decided that a formal amalgamation would be in the best interests of the boys. The two sponsoring authorities (the Presbyterian Church and the Congregational Church, who already had close links) also agreed and this was subsequently agreed at District level. An announcement was made in the District Bulletin for June.

Although St Margaret’s remained the main sponsors and meetings continued to be held at Redbourne Hall, the combined Group was known as the 4th Finchley with Gordon Bannerman as the GSM, thus ending the existence of the 14th Finchley.



To view associated photographs and press cuttings click here.



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