20th Finchley

Note: This article is about the 20th Finchley that was in existence between 1946 and 1959. Another 20th Finchley did open at a later date and that Group will be covered in a separate article.

Following a disagreement during 1946 between Mr & Mrs Cutter, who were running the Cubs at the 2nd Finchley (81st North London), and Charles Lilly the Group Scout Master, the Cutters decided to leave the 2nd Finchley and start a new Group.

That Group opened in September and was attached to Holy Trinity Church in Church Lane, East Finchley. It took the title 20th Finchley and their scarf colour was mustard. Mr Cutter ran the Scouts having been granted an Assistant Scout Master’s warrant and Mrs Cutter was the Cub Master. Edward (Rikki) Amies, who was also a leader with the 2nd but closely involved with work at Holy Trinity, moved to the 20th as the Group Scout Master. Mrs Ethel Batchelor also switched allegiance and became Mrs Cutter’s assistant.

Within a month it was reported that in addition to the four leaders there were 25 Cubs and 10 Scouts.

The Group’s first major event was their Christmas Party on the 21st December. The 3rd Finchley Sea Scouts and the 3rd East Finchley Guides & Brownies were invited, along with several District officials. In all more than 100 children and 150 adults were present at the event, which received a substantial press report.

In March the Chief Scout was asked by the Ministry of Food if the Scouts could help to collect Jam Jars as there was a national shortage. Many Groups supported this challenge and the 20th Finchley set themselves a target of 3,000 which they managed to achieve within a month.

By the time of the census at the end of March the number of Cubs had increased to 28 and the number of Scouts was up to 13

On the 19th April the Group jointly staged, with the 3rd Finchley Sea Scouts, a show entitled “Byts and Pieces”. The show consisted of an hour of non-stop entertainment with the local press highlighting the Cubs contribution of ‘The Wedding of the Painted Doll’ as the stand out item.

The Scouts’ Summer Camp was held at West Bexington, Dorset and a full report was published in the local press.

Another show was staged by the Group in October. From the press report it appears that the two and a half hour performance followed a boy’s life through the Group from the moment he joins the Cubs.

The 1947 Christmas party was not as big as the previous year but still a big success. The 3rd East Finchley Guides and Brownies were again invited as guests and there was the usual entertainment and plenty of food to eat. All the boys and girls also received a gift from under an eleven foot Christmas tree that was gifted by the father of one of the boys. During the evening a Thanks Badge was presented to Mrs Benham in appreciation of the time and work she had devoted to the Group since its inception.

Having completed his training as a Group Scout Master ‘Rikki’ Amies was presented with his Wood Badge during the District’s annual social in January 1948.

The following month Peter Martin was recruited as the Scout Master, which was very helpful as the number of Scouts had increased to 24. 

Both the Cubs and Scouts were successful at their Sports Day winning the Lady Peat Shield and Nellie Allen Lane Shield (Class A) respectively. The Scouts also jointly won, with the 2nd Finchley, the Clarke Shield (Class A & B) at the Swimming Gala.

Later in the year Mr & Mrs Cutter moved away from the neighbourhood and resigned. Although they had only been with the 20th for a short while they had for a number of years provided service to 2nd Finchley (81st NL) and the District and, as a result they were given the honorary titles of ASM and CM.

Ethel Batchelor took over as the new Akela and Miss Gwen Tuvey joined as her assistant. Numbers remained healthy and by the end of March 1949 there were 26 Cubs and 19 Scouts.

It is not clear as to exactly when ‘Rikki’ took on extra responsibilities within the District but by the time the Spinney at the Camping Ground opened in July he was also a District Scout Master and the Camp Warden.

Summer camp was held at Wray, close to Windermere from the 6th to the 12th August. This was held at the same time and close to where the 3rd Finchley Sea Scouts were holding their camp. Although they held separate camps with different programmes they combined forces for travel and transports. A press report provided details of their activities.

Although there is no specific reference to the Group over the next couple of years, other than the census figures, it is apparent that all was going well. In 1950 seven Senior Scouts are recorded on the census and in 1951 there are nine.

And, as further evidence that all was going well, in July four members of the Group gained the King’s Scout Badge: John Rogers, Brian Smith, Tony Amies and Colin Courtice. The badges were presented by the District Commissioner at a special awards evening during which several Cubs and other Scouts received badges, including Trevor Knight who was presented with the First Class Badge and Scout Cord.

The Group continued to go from strength to strength with the number of Cubs having increased to 31, the number of Scouts to 31 and an additional 11 Senior Scouts, by the end of March. John Rogers and Brian Smith were selected to represent the District at the National St. George’s Day Parade at Windsor and in June a Rover Crew was formed with five members.

Summer camp was held in Northern Ireland and was attended by 23 members of the Group along with six boys from the 16th Finchley. We are pleased to say that a full report about their adventure was provided by the local press.

In March 1953 Myrtle Webb and Anthony Batchelor became ACMs as the Pack numbers grew to 41, while the numbers of Scouts and Senior Scouts remained about the same as the previous year.

The District’s annual St. George’s Day Parade took place on Saturday 25th April and was led by the 6th, who carried the Queen’s Colour. They paraded up the High Street to Christ Church, North Finchley where the service was held.

Peter Davis, who had been with the Group since its inception, and was one of the five that had recently formed the Rover Crew, had also become an Assistant Scout Master. His warrant was presented by the District Commissioner in May.


NOTE: This is Peter (Jumbo) Davis, who in 1972 became the District Commissioner for Finchley, Friern Barnet and Golders Green.

Richard Syres and Trevor Knight had also recently gained the Queen’s Scout Badge and attended a ceremony on 24th May at Hampton Court, where the Chief Scout, Lord Rowallan, presented them with their Badge and Certificate.

On Thursday 28th May Bill Stephens and D Dalziel were among the Scouts, including 6 others from Finchley, to be called upon to help at a Buckingham Palace Garden Party.

On the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation, 2nd June, the Scouts from Finchley played significant roles in ensuring that everything went smoothly. Richard Syres carried out ‘Special Duties’ on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace and Brian Nichol, S Field, S Webb & I Batchelor, all from the 20th Finchley, gave assistance from 4am at the Police Canteen located at Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park.

‘Rikki’ Amies took charge of the Finchley team of Coronation Programme sellers covering the north side of Oxford Street.

In addition the team included Peter Davis and Peter Martin from the 20th who were among 9 Scouters and, Tony Amies, D Dalziel, Colin Courtice, Trevor Knight and Bill Stevens, also from the 20th , who were among the 50 Scouts.

During the summer the Scouts managed to get their hands on the Nellie Allen Shield again by winning the sports for the second time.

In the autumn the Group gained another ACM when Eileen Long joined, and in November they held their fourth annual show and bazaar. The occasion was attended by Ald. H Wilmot and his wife who upon their arrival were given a Guard of Honour by the Cubs and Scouts. A short article about the event also appeared in the local press.

By comparing known activities during 1954 with 1953 it would be fair to say that 1954 was comparatively quiet. The only real note was that Colin Courtice, a Queen’s Scout who had been with Group for many years became an ASM. However, it should also be noted that the Rover Crew had been forced to temporarily shut due to lack of numbers.

1954 also saw the addition of another Queen’s Scout – William (Bill) Stevens.

In March 1955 ‘Rikki’ Amies was awarded the Medal of Merit. It was presented on the 30th March at a special awards ceremony during which both he and Wilf Hewitt were presented with the medal by John Ramsay, the Deputy County Commissioner.

Bill Stevens was selected to represent Finchley at the 8th World Scout Jamboree. Having been selected from 16 applicants he spent the 18th – 28th August at the camp in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, Canada.

At a farewell gathering (that was held in April) Bill was given a plaque to take to the Rosemont Scout Group of Montreal who had generously assisted with the finances.


Later that year Peter Martin resigned his position as the Scout Master. He had spent some time in hospital and did not think that he could continue with his duties. Peter Davis took over the role.

The 1956 census reveals that there were again Rovers at the Group, albeit only three. The number of Cubs was 37, Scouts 23 and Senior Scouts 7.

Over the Whitsun weekend the Troop camped at Frith Grange. Two other Troops and 2 Cub Packs also shared the site. Although they camped separately they did join forces for a camp fire and Scouts’ Own. There is no record of a summer camp.

In November there were a number of changes to the leadership team. Peter Davis moved from being the Scout Master to being an ACM along with Bill Stevens. Colin Courtice took over the role of Scout Master and Peter Watkins & Brian Nichol applied for warrants as his assistant.

At the end of the year ‘Rikki’ Amies, whilst remaining as the GSM, also became the Assistant District Commissioner for Scouts. He did however relinquish his role as Camp Warden.

1957 was the 50th anniversary of Scouting and the District had organised, in conjunction with the Girl Guides, a number of Jubilee celebrations, all of which the 20th joined in with.

Between 25th February and 2nd March all Groups held open meetings to which the general public were invited so they could find out what actually goes on at meetings. The 20th held a joint Cub and Scout meeting during which several badges were awarded and Colin Courtice was presented with his SM warrant.

Between the 1st and 6th April an exhibition was held at the Youth Hall in East Finchley. It was manned by District Scouters every evening between 6.30pm and 9.30 pm and on the Saturday from 2.30pm to 9.30pm. The wide ranging display of everything associated with the movement, including flags, trophies, badges and information about the activities undertaken was well thought of by the local press. The 20th Finchley Rovers provided two highly praised exhibits: a tent that they had designed and made themselves and a scale model of a Scout camp site.

In June Lord Rowallan, the Chief Scout, was honoured by having a train named after him. The ceremony took place at Euston Station where Victor Courtice, John Davison and John Kernot, from the 20th, were part of a 20 strong Guard of Honour that included 4 other Scouts from Finchley.

At the beginning of August 3 Scouts from the 20th (Victor Courtice, Roderick Salmon and David Meirick) were among the 13 that had the honour to represent Finchley at the Jubilee Jamboree, held at Sutton Park, Warwickshire.

During December Richard Syres became a new ASM.

On the 30th January 1958 the Group held an open evening. After the Cubs and Scouts had done their 10 minute stints the Senior Scouts and Rovers gave a demonstration of bridge building. There were then 2 ‘going –up’ ceremonies (3 Cubs moving to Scouts and 2 Scouts to Senior Scouts). The evening concluded with a number of badge presentations.

At the District Cross Country on the 1st March the Scouts came 6th of the 12 competing teams and the Rovers were successful in winning the Barclay Shield.

The census figures at the end of the month confirmed that the Group continued to thrive with 25 Cubs, 27 Scouts, 5 Senior Scouts and 2 Rovers and 10 leaders. There are also records showing that good progress was being made with test and badge work.

Over the Whitsun weekend the Scouts camped at Ranmore Common, near Dorking, the site owned by the Dorking and District Scouts. They travelled by lorry, departing at 8am on the Saturday and returning at 6pm on the Monday. Cooking was done in Patrols with the Scouters visiting them on a rota basis for their meals.

The Scouts’ Summer Camp was held at Wray Castle on Windermere between the 26th July and 9th August. Unfortunately there is no report of this event.

When meetings resumed after the summer break the number of Scouts had increased substantially, and with 4 more Cubs due to join the total was 40. Two new Patrols were formed making a total of six, as shown:

In September the Scouts entered a composite Patrol (P/L R Martin, 2nd K Powers, G Burnham, A Tobin, C Wallace & J Hutchinson) in the District Camping Competition. Out of the 17 Patrols they finished joint second with the 10th Finchley, having scored 135 points out of a possible 150, but no record can currently be found as to who actually won.

By the end of the year, with some boys joining the Senior Scouts and some leaving, Troop numbers shrank to 33 and it was decided that for 1959 they would reduce the number of Patrols back to four.

The Scouts held their Christmas party on the 18th December and although they had decided not to invite the Guides, the Guides invited the Patrol Leaders, Seconds and Senior Scouts to theirs the following day.

In February 1959 Trevor Knight became an ASM with the Senior Scouts and spent much of his time guiding some of the older boys toward their Queen’s Scout Badge.

Over the Whitsun weekend John Davidson went on two hikes, the first with Richard Martin and the second with Peter Lawrence, thus ensuring that they all completed their Venturer badge, an essential requirement for the Queen’s Scout Badge.

Having been selected as Finchley’s sole representative at the World Jamboree in the Philippines Victor Courtice had also been working hard to complete the necessary requirements. This he managed shortly before his departure in July.

At the end of July, 4 Senior Scouts spent 2 weeks touring the south of England on a cycling expedition. In all they covered more than 400 miles. A month later 2 more lads, David Meirick and Roderick Salmon, gained the Queen’s Scout Badge.

In October Colin Courtice resigned as the Scout Master.

A month later it was revealed that there had, for some time, been private talks about a Group merge with the 2nd Finchley (81st North London). Despite the fact that, on paper, both Groups appeared to be well supported there was nothing to explain why the merge went ahead.

The new combined Group was called the 1st Finchley, the name not having been used since the mid-1930s.

The District Bulletin for November 1959 detailed the necessary Warrant changes that took place. E R Amies who was the Group Scout Master (GSM) with the 20th stayed as GSM of the 1st. P Cooper (ex 2nd) became the Scout Master (SM) of the joint enterprise and was assisted by Les Cornish (ex 2nd), B Nichol and P Watkins (both ex 20th)

The Senior Scout Section came under the joint control of T Knight, W Stevens and R Syres (all ex 20th), whilst the Wolf Cubs formed two Packs. The leader of ‘Mang’ Pack was Mrs A Histead, with assistance from R E Brett and E R Lewis (all ex 2nd), and the leader of ‘Mowgli’ Pack was Mrs E Batchelor, assisted by Mrs B Stevens, Miss J Batchelor and P Davis (all ex 20th).

Their headquarters was “The Better ‘Ole” in New Trinity Road.

As a postscript it is worth pointing out that the aforementioned John Davison, Peter Lawrence and Richard Martin all gained the Queen’s Scout Badge within the following year and were presented with their Badge at a ceremony on the 11th November 1960.




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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