1st Golders Green

Note: We are grateful to the Hampstead Garden Suburb Free Church who have been kind enough to lend us all of their archived material that relates to 1st Golders Green, the Scout Group that they sponsored. Much of the information in this article, covering the period up to 1971, is based on that material.

Early in 1915 Dr Rushbrooke, the Minister of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Free Church, noticed that the number of boys attending Sunday School had dramatically dropped. He subsequently discovered that the missing boys were going Scouting instead. However, at about the same time, the Troop that the boys were attending – The Golders Green Scout Troop – was beginning to flounder, due to the leaders being called-up to fight in the war.

As a result the church started a new troop called the 1st Hampstead Garden Suburb/3rd Hendon with the Scoutmaster (SM) being Robert S Fox. 

According to a booklet produced in 1931, to mark the 21st anniversary of the inauguration of the church the Wolf Cub Pack was started in 1916 by Miss Mayers, assisted by her brother Eric. They were replaced by Harry Whitehead who is shown on the 1922 registration as being in charge of 12 boys. A year earlier Robert Fox retired as the Group Scout Master (GSM) and for a short while the Patrol Leaders carried on under the supervision of Mr F E Silcox. However, in 1922 the church appointed John Hoyle as the SM and Group Scout Master (GSM).

One of the boys, Herbert (Bert) J Hewson, who had only a year earlier joined the ‘Golders Green Troop’, became a founding member of the new Troop. In 1981 the Hendon Times published a photograph from c1910, found in the attic of a house once owned by Reg Harmer (another old Scout) of the original Golders Green Troop. They used to meet in the grounds of The Prince Albert public house in Golders Green Road (near Brent Bridge). The photograph had found its way to Bert Hewson who had sought the assistance of the newspaper in trying to track down old members of the 1st Golders Green.

It is not known how successful the press item was in tracking down old members of the Group but it is known that Bert Hewson later became one of the first Rovers when the Crew was formed in 1921.

The Crew originally comprised 7 boys who had become too old to remain as Scouts called themselves ‘Iroquois’. Later they gave themselves Native American tribal names and eventually the whole Group adopted the name.

The Scouts and Rovers held their Summer Camp at Shanklin on the Isle of Wight. Unfortunately there is no report of this event but we have been provided with a very nice Group photo.

After the camp in August the Group held a parade and dinner at which the guest of honour was the Chief of the Iroquois. He was on his way to Geneva to plead the cause of his people before the League of Nations. He appeared in full native dress and was introduced to all the Rovers who used their adopted Indian names. He also accepted the position of honorary Chieftainship of the Troop.

There is a note in the Group records stating that the Rovers enjoyed many camps in Europe including an international Scout / Rover meeting in Denmark in 1924. (The 2nd World Scout Jamboree, we presume).

There is another excellent photo, this time of the Group outside the Church in 1924.

By September 1924 the number of Cubs in the Pack was 27 and the registration form for that year shows that Edgar Binks was then in charge, having replaced Harry Whitehead.

The registration form also confirms that the Group did subsequently change its name to the 1st Golders Green. This had actually come about as a result of changes made by the local Scout Districts. At that time another Group, who met at Hodford Road, were calling themselves the 1st Golders Green, but IHQ insisted that as the 1st Hampstead Garden Suburb were the first to be formed within Golders Green, they should be called the 1st Golders Green Group. The Hodford Road Group was forced to become the 2nd Golders Green.

Unfortunately we only have two pieces of information relating to 1925 and 1926. There is a short press cutting from March 1925 saying that an anonymous friend of the Group treated everyone to see the ‘Livingstone’ film at the Philharmonic Hall. And at the end of 1926 the Rovers held what was to be the first of their annual dinners.

There is also only one event that we have found out about for 1927 and that is the very sad and tragic death of George Judson, while at camp with the Scouts in Cornwall. He was, along with Gordon Down and Charles Hewer, standing by the sea cliffs when a very large wave swept him out to sea. Despite the efforts of Gordon and help obtained by Charles, George could not be saved. The press covered this and George’s funeral extensively.

1928 was the 21st anniversary of the founding of the Suburb and as part of the celebrations the Scouts built a dragon. Although this has not survived there is still a photograph. There is also a 1928 photo of the Rovers on a day out but the full details of the event are not known.

During July all 22 of the Group’s Rover Crew met in their Den, which was at the time, a room under the stage of the Free Church Hall, to say goodbye to Albert (Bert) Whitehead (Rising Sun) who was moving away from the District. After the presentation of a farewell gift a formal photo was taken.

Immediately after saying goodbye to Bert the SM, Stanley Wilson (Lone Pine) took the Scouts on their summer camp to North Yorkshire. Their site was located just 3 miles south of Whitby, and a ten minute walk away from Robin Hood’s Bay.

The Rovers 3rd annual Dinner & Dance was held in the middle of December at Pinoli’s Restaurant W1.

The Scouts summer camp was held at Rothesay, Scotland over the first two weeks of August. According to the detailed press report they had a very full itinerary that included what was later referred to as a glorious mistake: an unexpected night’s camp on the ‘bonnie banks’ of Loch Lomond. On the journey home they were able to spend a day in Edinburgh before catching the midnight train back to London.

A month later Bert Hewson (White Wolf), the Rover Leader, and also the District Rover leader, was married at St Mary’s Church, Hendon.

Many of the Rovers were also members of the Touchstone Players, a theatre group attached to the Free Church. However, the Rovers also like to produce their own shows and these were staged every now and then. The first that we have any information about is the press report for the 1932 show. They thought that ‘March Madness’ was a good show and thoroughly deserved the three rousing cheers they received at the end. The scenery, which got a special mention as being modern and bright, was designed by Clifford Gabriel (Blue Feather) was a talented artist and ASM.

The Troop’s 14th summer camp, which some considered to be the best, was held on the Welsh coast at Arthog in the Barmouth Estuary. There were more than 30 campers that included John Hoyle the GSM, John Pagan the SM and several Rovers who went along to help. During their stay the whole troop climbed Cader Idris which lies at the Southern end of the Snowdonia National Park. The climb of 893m (2,930ft) was worth the effort as they were rewarded with magnificent views from the summit.

With several of the old Rover Crew having left the Group, the annual dinners had been restyled as re-unions. Nevertheless, they continued numerically with the 7th being held on the 3rd December 1932 at the Ambassador Hotel in Bloomsbury.

For 1933 we only have a couple of items. The first is a review of another show staged by the Rovers in February. The second is two photos from the Rovers on a hike(s) although the names of those taking part is not known.

With regard to the shows we have three photos but, whilst we believe they are from the early 1930s no exact dates are known, nor can any of the performers be properly identified.

Reference should also be made here to the Whitehead boys and in particular Harry, whose Indian name was ‘Thunder Voice’. He was the eldest of three sons and having been born at the end of 1903 was possibly one of the original members of the Troop when they started on 1915. All three boys were also Rovers with the Group and, as earlier reported, Bert left in 1928. Unfortunately his youngest brother John (Jack) died as the result of a climbing accident. He initially survived a fall of more than 100ft on Christmas Day 1932 but passed away a couple of weeks later.

Harry though, who was also one of the Groups early Cub leaders moved on, in 1925, to help the Mohican Group who were experiencing leadership problem. And, a little later, did the same for the 1st Edgware, before being appointed the Assistant District Commissioner for Scouts. When he retired in 1936 the local press published a resume of his time in the Movement.

The 1936 annual reunion dinner was held on the 5th December at the Ambassador Hotel.

More to follow.






To view associated photos 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