1st Friern Barnet
As the oldest Group of the 5 that merged in 1964 with Finchley, to create Finchley and Friern Barnet District, the 94th North London were renamed the 1st Friern Barnet.
There are unfortunately very few records that have survived so their history is at present a little sketchy.
George Simpson is credited with founding the Group. He had been an early gas victim of the war and despite being unable to follow his normal occupation he wanted to do some good work. He started the Group in 1915 and acted as their first Scout Master (SM).
Right from the start meetings were held in the Lecture Hall, Bellevue Road, off Friern Barnet Road that was owned by the Congregational Church. Wolf Cubs started in 1922 and the Pack was initially led by Miss B Harland.
Sadly, in May 1925, George Simpson died. While performing one of his many good deeds (taking a crippled Scout on an outing), he collapsed and passed away shortly after. The following year, on 26th May, a stained glass window at the east end of the church was unveiled in his memory.
In 1927 the Rev Cecil Pugh, a South African minister who had been educated at Oxford, became the new minister at the church. In 1929 the Group came under their control and the following year Rev Pugh started the Rover section. Mr Walter Brennan is then documented as being the first Group Scout Master (GSM).
When the war started in 1939 Rev. Pugh enlisted and became an RAF Chaplain with the rank of Squadron Leader. In 1941 he was travelling on a Troop ship when it was sunk. Although he had the opportunity of saving himself he courageously stayed with his trapped men, offering prayer at their end. He was later posthumously awarded the George Cross.
Rev. Pugh was not the only member of the Group recognised for displaying an act of courage during the war. In August 1944 Patrol Leader R. W. Hutchins assisted in the rescue of a number of trapped people. He was awarded the Silver Cross by the Scout Association for his heroic work.
After the war some of the leaders returned to the Group, including Ken Wynne who had been a signalman in the Royal Navy. He was the Senior Scout Leader and encouraged his girlfriend Iris Walker to help with the Cubs. Later Ken took over and Iris, by then his wife, became the Akela.
There then follows a big gap in the Group’s history although a photograph of the Scout Troop in 1952 has been found. Another photo, taken a year later, is accompanied by a plan that reveals several of the boys’ names.
However, it is known that following Princess Elizabeth’s accession Freddie Berg became the Group’s first Queen’s Scout. He later went on to become one of the Group’s leaders.
According to Iris Wynne the Group put on regular Gang Shows in the Lecture Hall but stopped when they realised that too much time was being spent rehearsing and not enough time was being spent on other Scout activities. She also recalls that the Group once went camping in France and Ken was chosen to lead a contingent of North London Scouts to Finland.
Although meetings started at the Lecture Hall, in time the Rovers acquired their own headquarters at the top of Ramsden Road and the Troop took over the hut behind Holly Park School that had once belonged to the 92nd North London. However, this hut burnt down during the war with the loss of all their equipment.
In June 1953 another stained glass window in the church was unveiled. This was in memory of those members of the 94th who had lost their lives during the war. The window had been designed and installed by Luxford Studios, a family run firm founded by three brothers (Frank, Thomas and Harold) who had all earlier been members of the Group.
In 1960 Ken and Iris moved to Kent, leaving the Group. They vowed to not get involved again – ‘having done their bit’, but 4 years later were recruited to help with the 8th Gillingham (Wigmore) Group. Ken had also been the ADC for Scouts in his District (Wood Green, Southgate & Friern Barnet) and was awarded the Medal of Merit before he left.
In the early 1960s, during a parents’ evening, Arthur Berry complained about the lack of a leader for the Senior Scouts and thought that more should be done to find one. He ended up taking on the role himself, a position he undertook with great enthusiasm and performed very well.
The District Bulletin for May 1964 lists the Group (now the 1st Friern Barnet) as meeting in the Lecture Hall with a black and green scarf. The GSM is named as Len Murrell, the Cub Leader as Kath Terry, the SM as Stan Vanner and Arthur Berry as the man in charge of the Senior Scouts. Three new flags were later dedicated during a special Sunday morning service.
Towards the end of 1964 Mick Evans gained his Queen’s Scout Badge and at the start of 1965 Chis Terry gained his. Both were later presented with their certificates by the District Commissioner Tom Marshall.
The Census return in March the following year says that there were 21 Cubs, 15 Scouts/Senior Scouts and 5 Scouters as well as an additional 6 who were also Rovers.
A month later the Group celebrated its 50th birthday. Some brief notes about the Group were produced that included the names of past leaders and the Senior Scouts arranged a special church service during which a new Queen’s Colour was dedicated.
More to follow.
At the age of 93 my memory is not great but there are a couple of things I remember about the shows we used to put on. One is a visit by Ralph Reader who decided that he wanted one of the boys (Roger Bandy) for his London Show. After being told that he was not a good singer Ralph replied saying that it did not matter as the boy had good looks and he wanted him in the front row. Another time we were rehearsing a night club scene that had fake bottles of wine on the tables. When the church official noticed we were forced to cancel the scene as they said it ‘promoted drinking’.
Lastly, Ken had a rule that if you could not get it into the rucksack, it was left behind. There was one boy (Les Twiss) however who would amaze us time and again by his careful packing and the amount he could get into his bag.
Iris Wynne (née Walker) – 94th North London