4th Finchley

Note: We are very grateful to Tony McTeare, an ex-Scout and Leader of the 4th Finchley, who in 2014 produced a book detailing the history of the Group. With Tony’s permission much of the material that follows is taken from that publication. It has been supplemented by information from old press cuttings and a few other sources.

The first meeting came about in July 1917, when 5 boys, who were members of the 1st Finchley Troop, met together in the road outside 38 Cyprus Road, Finchley and continued in fields at the bottom of Windsor Road. The boys were Arthur Miall (aged 13) who lived at number 38, Leigh Bigwood, Fred Pedler and two others with the surnames Cook and Tarrant. What caused the breakaway is unknown but they continued with similar meetings through the summer, then in the autumn, through the good work of the Congregational Minister, Rev, J. Ackroyd they got the use of a loft at the back of Callows, a small greengrocer in Ballards Lane. They wanted to call themselves the 2nd Finchley.

As a result they became attached to the church, and in the church bulletin for September 1917 the following appeared:

‘A Troop of Scouts is in the process of formation and officers of the Sunday School are negotiating for suitable premises nearby in Hendon Lane for working quarters.”

It did not take long before the Troop had expanded to 25 Scouts and 10 Cubs. It is not totally clear as to whom the leader was at this time but there is a record that shows that during the war a young lady from the church, Miss Ethel Taylor, looked after the Scouts. The note also implies that she was also responsible for starting the Cub Pack at the Group, although there are no District records to confirm this. Ethel later trained as a nurse and became a Missionary in China.

After the war the Group could be found meeting in ‘The Rabbit Hutch’ (an asbestos building behind the church) and Capt. Hassell is recorded as being the Scoutmaster (SM) with assistance being provided by Arthur Miall’s elder brother Sydney.

At about the same time, the Group was told to change its name to the 4th Finchley as there was already a Troop in East Finchley that was called the 2nd

The Group number is in fact quite interesting in that it is thought that the Groups were numbered in sequence and by 1914 they were already in double figures. Maybe there had been a very early 4th Finchley that did not survive the early years and the number was available for use again.

The Group scarf was black and yellow and meetings were held on a Tuesday evening. By 1922 there were four Patrols: Seagulls, Eagles, Swifts and Peewits, and the Patrol Leaders were Eric Archer, Charlie Carpenter, Peachy and Frank Jackman?

There was a Whitsun Camp in 1922, held jointly with the 2nd and 10th Finchley, the venue being Dangerfield’s Farm off Frith Lane, Mill Hill. Camping there at the same time were the 2nd and 10th Finchley. There was also a summer camp that year at Bognor in a field near the beach.

The census figures at the end of September state that there were 36 Cubs with Bill Paddock as the Cub Master (CM) and 31 Scouts with three leaders. In addition to Capt. Hassell and Sydney Miall there was Archie Steele, who had previously been with the 10th Finchley. There were also 6 Rovers.

On the 7th October of that year the Scouts attended the Rally at Alexandra Palace when the Chief Scout Baden Powell invested the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) as Chief Scout of Wales. Around this time the Patrol names were changed to Lions, Panthers, Buffalos and Kangaroos.

Two years later (1924) the Troop, along with another from Hendon, was chosen to be the Guard of Honour to the Prince of Wales when he came to unveil the War Memorial at Mill Hill Barracks at 2.30pm on 4th November. (The memorial has since been moved to Mill Hill village, opposite St Paul’s Church).  The only Group activity noted for 1925 was a trip to watch the Torchlight Tattoo at Wembley Stadium; with other Troops they marched round the arena at the end of the performance.

At the District AGM towards the end of 1925 Arthur Miall, while still a Rover with the Group, took over the role of District Secretary. He held this position until the start of the Second World War.

During the General Strike in 1926 many miners came to London in support of their cause. Among them were a group of Rover Scouts from a small village in South Wales who were given hospitality by the Crew. A year later these men sent each of the Rovers a differently carved walking stick in appreciation of the hospitality shown.

The Summer Camp that year was held in Dawlish, Devon but unfortunately there are no details. Group numbers also remained solid with 26 Cubs and 2 leaders, and 27 Scouts with 3 leaders. Additionally there were 12 Rovers.

Over the previous two to three years there had been a couple of changes to the position of CM. During 1924 Mr A. J. Wolfe had replaced Bill Paddock but by 1926 he had taken on the role of District Cub Master and been replaced by Sid Barker.

There is no record of any 10th anniversary celebration being held in 1927.  Nor is there a report of the Summer Camp held at Studland, Dorset, or any information relating to the 3 Rovers that attended a Swedish Scout Jamboree (Jublo).

In January 1928, following the completion of her training Ethel Taylor left for Shanghai to work as a Missionary. Before leaving she visited the church to address the Scout Group. Ethel worked mainly in China and then Malaysia before returning to England in 1971, and settled in Eastbourne where she died in 1993 aged 95. She was honoured with an MBE in 1955 for her good work.

In February 1928 Archie Steele took on the role of Group Scout Master (GSM) and his position as Scout Master was taken by Mr L. G. Williams, who had been an assistant for a few years.

The Scouts came 4th at the District Sports held at the Gun Station on the 2nd June. However, K. F. Moyle was declared the ‘Victor Ludorum’ for having gained the most points individually. He was presented with the Cup by Major the Hon. E. C. G. Cadogan, MP.

The District AGM report, later in the year, confirms that the Scouts had again been camping on a regular basis with events at Easter and Whitsun as well as a Summer Camp at Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The 1929 report says that for that year the Summer Camp was held at St Ives, Cornwall. Once again though there are no further details of these camps.

During the 1930s there were a number of articles about the Group that appeared in the church magazine. Some of these are shown below in italics

The new decade started with a new warrant. This was for Douglas Barker who became an ASM.

May 1930 – ‘Mr T. Johnson was presented with a “Badge of Honour” together with an autographed letter from Chief Scout Baden-Powell.’

October 1930 – ‘A most enjoyable function was arranged by our Scouts when the first reunion was held. Thirty four past and present members of the rovers, scouts and cubs sat down to an excellent supper under the leadership of Mr T. Johnson, the retiring President. A few toasts were given and some speeches made; but the main idea was to get together to renew old friendships and talk over old times. We were very pleased to see all the old members of the Group who came, particularly Mr T. G. Hassell and Jim Bidgood our old Rover Mate.’

April 1931 – ‘A Scout and Guide Week is being held by the local Associations from 19th to 25th. Our own Scouts and Guides will be providing the programme at a Social to be held in the Hall at 7.45pm on April 22nd showing all sections at work and play. Mr Dickin, as Chaplain to the Scouts and Guides will be in the Chair. We hope the Hall will be packed as the Scouts and Guides are now definitely associated with our Church and this is an effort by them to make their work known and show us that we have real live organizations in our Church. Please book the date.’

After a couple of years when the Group numbers had dropped, things began to pick up. Summer Camp is recorded as having been held in Strete, near Dartmouth, Devon but again there is no report.

By the end of September there were 24 Cubs, 29 Scouts and 12 Rovers, and a year later (1932) there were 20 Cubs 22 Scouts and 18 Rovers.

November 1932 – ‘Our Rovers are opening a new den on our premises on Saturday afternoon, November 12 at 3.30pm. The Church has allowed them to make use of the pitch-pine sliding doors that used to be under the gallery of the church. This, together with seven guineas of Rovers funds has made it possible for them to construct a room that shows signs of excellent workmanship. We congratulate them.’

At the beginning of 1933 there were a number of leadership changes. Sid Barker, who was the CM, became the SM with Len Mellor joining the Group as an ASM. Douglas Barker, who was an ASM, became an ACM supporting Gordon Wolfe who joined the Group as the new CM. It is also thought that it was around this time that Mr A. J. Wolfe resigned as the District Cub Master and returned to the Group as the GSM.

Summer Camp was held on the Isle of Man.

December 1933 – ‘Invitations have now been sent out to all parents and friends for the Guide and Scouts Social on Wednesday Dec 6 at 7.15 for 7.30 sharp. You can be assured of a good entertainment and a social evening combined.’

In February 1934 Mr H.C. Harper-Smith became the Rover Scout Leader (RSL) and a couple of months later Arthur Miall took a warrant as his assistant (ARSL).

The District AGM report for that year states that the Group held a concert in January with all sections being involved and that the Scouts went camping during most weekends. The Summer Camp is noted as having been held in Cornwall. 

January 1935 – ‘Please note these dates – Friday, January 25th and Saturday 26th. On these dates our scout Group is presenting two plays in the Church Hall. We are certain that our friends in the church, who saw the plays presented by the Group last year, will want to make sure of their seats for this year’s entertainment. Tickets priced 1/- and 2/- are obtainable from any member of the Group, or from Mr A. Wolfe, 35 Clifton Road.

In the 1935 District AGM report there is reference to the constant upheaval of leaders. It is not entirely clear as to the full meaning of this but it is known that Len Mellor became the SM and Mr Harper-Smith resigned as the RSL.

Summer Camp was held at Hawsker near Whitby.

Information relating to 1936 is rather thin. There was a Group Show in February and it is known that that they assisted with the entertainment when the Camping Ground was officially opened in 1936. Like all the other Groups they helped with the side shows and took part in the arena display. 

Summer Camp was held near Bude in Devon.

The Group were obviously involved in a number of other activities and events as they were awarded the Cadogan Shield for the year ending 31st December 1936.

For 1937 only one reference to the Group has been found and that is the Cubs’ success at the Sports in June when they won the Lady Peat Shield.

There is a little more information about 1938.  The Group’s usual Show is held in March and in June the Cubs retained the Lady Peat Shield by winning their Sports Day again.

Also in June, Arthur Miall officially became the RSL and it is thought that around this time he took on the additional role of GSM.

During the summer the Scouts returned to Strete near Dartmouth. On this occasion there is a press cutting but it mainly covers details of the journey rather than the actual camp.

The Group held their Show in March 1939 and returned to the Isle of Man for their Summer Camp. In May Alan Stillwell took over as the SM.

When the war started the Group was, like every other organisation, put under a great strain, especially with regard to leaders. Many were called up leaving many Groups with the challenge of finding volunteers to act as temporary leaders. It did not help that Arthur was evacuated. As a Bank of England employee he was moved to a purpose-built camp at Hurstbourne in Hampshire where he and his colleagues could continue their work.

As a result he resigned his position as the District Secretary, which was duly noted by the District Commissioner in that year’s AGM report. However, with a lot of help from the Rovers he continued his duties as the Group’s GSM and RSL.

Like the Seniors Scouts and Rovers from other Groups the 4th were quickly into action building Anderson Shelters in back gardens and Morrison Shelters below staircases for the elderly and infirm. They had a good reputation for their work. It is also known that at least 4 Rovers from the Group acted as Stretcher Bearers at Finchley Memorial Hospital.

November 1939 – ‘You may be aware that the accumulation of waste paper in your loft constitutes a grave danger in case of fire. Our Scouts are willing to relieve you of this danger.’

Meetings continued as best as possible with the camping ground being used on many occasions. The District also managed to hold some of the annual fixtures such as the Swimming Gala. 

In 1940 Eric Poupard became the acting GSM and with Alan Stillwell having joined the forces, Jack Field became the SM with assistance from Alan Hosier and Don Alvarez. There were 22 Scouts and 12 Cubs led by Nan Friend.

During 1941 many boys showed an interest in becoming Air Scouts and joined others of a like mind from other Groups in attending meetings with the Air Training Corps at Martin School in Finchley. There they were instructed in Air subjects while still meeting regularly with their own Group. Eventually in 1942 an Air Scouts Group was formed and 2 patrols from the 4th left to join them. Don Alvarez also left to join the newly created Troop and his position was filled by Bob Hunt.

At the end of 1942 the Group was deeply saddened to hear that one of their Rover Scouts had been killed in action. Roy Lamerton was a navigator in a crew of three flying a Blenheim Light Bomber and was shot down during an attack on the Philips works at Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

At the start of 1943 it was reported that Alan Stillwell was a Japanese Prisoner of War. It later transpired that he had been captured when Singapore fell and he was put to work on the Burma ‘Death Railway’ where more than 12,000 prisoners and around 90,000 civilians died. The film ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ is about British prisoners of war serving on the Burma Railway (although it should be noted that it contains many historical inaccuracies, and should be considered as a work of fiction.)

When the census was taken at the end of March there were 18 Cubs, 17 Scouts and 1 Rover. The figures also revealed that there were 25 members of the Group on war service, 16 of whom were aged between 15 and 20. Fortunately there were still 4 leaders helping on a regular basis.

May 1943 – “Alan Hosier the right hand man of Eric Poupard in helping to run our Scout Group, has been called up and will be greatly missed. Capt. Booker, an old Scout has offered temporary help. Bob Hunt, Alan’s predecessor has just completed six months University Course and now takes up further training with the RAF, News also that Ethel Taylor who had been working in Shanghai hospital has been interned by the Japanese”.

Throughout these years there was great cooperation between Groups, with the 10th and 15th Finchley becoming particularly close. Gordon Hall, (the 10th HQ) was often the venue for many dances organised by the Rovers.

At the start of 1944 Bob Hunt was invested as a Rover, there were 24 Cubs and 20 Scouts but by June, fear of V1 flying bombs and V2 rockets had reduced the numbers to 8 and 10. The number of Group members on war service had risen to 36.

Nevertheless the whole Group were involved a month later with the local Scout and Guide week.  The purpose of this was to highlight the aims and methods, and to show how meetings were run with all Scout Groups and Guide Companies holding open meetings. The week was rounded off with a Rally at the Finchley Football Ground in Summers Lane.

By the time the census was taken in 1945 numbers had crept back up, with there being 12 Cubs and 14 Scouts. The number on war service had dropped slightly to 27. Additionally the census revealed that two more members of the Group had gained their King’s Scout Badge. L D Smith was probably one of these but the name of the other is regrettably not known.

In May 1945 a Whitsun camp was held at Shenley and after VE Day things started to improve. In August a Summer Camp was held at Martin, near Dover in Kent and the event was even marked by a report in the Finchley Press.

The period immediately after the war ended was probably the busiest in the history of the Group. Servicemen were returning thick and fast, Victoria Hall, which had been taken over by civil authorities, was once again available, and boys were as keen as ever to join. The Rovers joined several other Groups by providing regular help at Downe camping ground. Located adjacent to Biggin Hill Airport, it had been used as a base for the Home Guard during World War II and required considerable effort in the late 1940s to return it to a Scout camping ground.

During these years there were also a few comings and goings with regard to the leaders. Eric Poupard had been replaced as acting GSM by Ray Salkilld and Bob Hunt was the SM. The Cubs were being led by Myrtle Fulton with assistance from Irene Lachmann.

The District Swimming Gala took place at the Squires Lane pool (now Douglas Court flats) in October and the Scouts were first in Class C. and got to hold the Clarke Shield for 4 months. It was the first occasion that the name of a Group other than the 2nd or 10th had appeared on the shield.

1946 started with some sad news. In January came the tragic news that Jack Field had been killed in a flying accident and the Group went into mourning for a month. By coincidence though better news came when it was discovered that two other members of the Rover Crew, brothers Doug and Dennis Leopold, were recovering from war wounds and occupying beds next to each other at Stanmore.

Numbers continued to grow and by the end of March there were 24 Cubs, 23 Scouts and 5 Rovers. The census also revealed that 5 more Scouts had gained the King’s Scout Badge, but once again there is no record of their names.

On the 11th May, 22 members of the Group who had returned from war service held a reunion at the Wander Inn (in 2023, the Farsi Persian Restaurant). Two members related details of their experience as Japanese prisoners of war and Douglas Leopold told the others about his time in Italy where he was wounded.

In May the Group held another of what they called ‘unconventional dances’ which were well liked and well supported. According to the press cutting dozens of people had to be turned away.

Over the Whitsun weekend 22 Scouts attended the Victory Camp at Gilwell, where more than 1,000 were in attendance. Unfortunately poor weather resulted in several of the activities being cancelled.

The Sixers of the Cub Pack also camped in June. They were among the 36 boys from 8 Packs that took part in the Sixers’ Camp at the District Camping Ground. Despite being a District event each Pack was responsible for its own camping and catering arrangements.

Summer Camp was held at Exmouth, Devon. A short concise report appeared in the local paper confirmed that despite damage to a couple of tents due to bad weather at the start of the camp, a good time was had by all. Ray Salkilld was in charge and he was supported by Bob Hunt, John Richardson, Tony Booker and Eddie Walker.

During September the Seagull patrol won the District Camping Competition and Derek Batten, the Patrol Leader, was duly presented with the Alexander Trophy.

At the start of October there was a second reunion for the members who had returned from the Forces. The event was again held at the Wander Inn and although the number of attendees was down they included several who were not at the first event. On this occasion ‘Pop’ Barclay, the GSM of the 10th Finchley, and Lex Lawford, who was the Assistant District Commissioner for Rovers, were invited as guests.

When the Senior Scout Section was introduced in October for boys aged 15 – 18 the 4th, like several other Groups, started with a Senior Patrol and continued to meet with the rest of the Troop.

There is a press cutting from November giving a report of a Troop outing to the Thames River Police at Wapping, where they were shown around the station and later given a ride in one of the launches. This was one of a series of visits they made under the heading ‘Discover London’. Previous outings included a trip down the Thames to Greenwich with a visit to the National Maritime Museum, and another to the Tower of London.

During December the Cubs attended the Southgate Scouts‘ pantomime, but the journey there was not without incident as the press article testifies.

1947 started with a New Year Dance which was held at Gordon Hall on the 11th January. This was swiftly followed by another on the 1st March, entitled ‘An Unconventional Dance’ where attendees had to dress unconventionally.

During January and despite the very poor weather 4 Senior Scouts spent a weekend hiking (as 2 pairs). This was the first part of their Venture Badge with the requirement of hiking at least 20 miles, camping overnight and carrying all their kit and food in a rucksack weighing no more than 30lbs.

A month later some of the Senior Scouts were out in the cold weather again. On this occasion they spend the weekend camping at Downe in Kent, where there was six inches of snow and one of their activities included tobogganing.

During March the second and final part of the Venturer badge was undertaken by the 4 intrepid Senior Scouts. On this occasion they had to undertake a night hike that involved following compass directions and dealing with a number of  incidents en-route.

The census figures at the end of March showed that the Group was continuing to thrive. The number of Cubs was up to 33 and the number of Scouts up to 25. There were also 8 Senior Scouts and 7 Rovers. During March Irene Lachman had also joined as a new ACM.

The Scouts continued to ‘Discover London’ with visits to Mount Pleasant Post Office, the War Museum, Westminster Abbey and the ‘Star’ evening newspaper where they were able to watch the entire process of the newspaper’s production.

With the weather improving 16 Scouts attended an Easter camp at Chalfont Heights and 4 patrols attended the Whitsun weekend camp at Debden Green. Unfortunately there are no reports about these events.

The Senior Scouts and Rovers locked horns, in a friendly manner, a couple of times. The Rovers came out on top on both occasions, firstly in a general knowledge quiz and then in a handball match.

During July the Scouts had some success at their sports. In Class A they were the winners, whilst in Class B they finished 3rd and in Class C they were 2nd. As a result they had a share of the Nellie Allen Lane Shield which they held for 4 months of the year.

The Group also celebrated their 30th birthday in July and held a big party. It consisted mainly of fun and games for the Cubs followed by a huge American supper that was served to about 80 Cubs, Scouts and Rovers, as well as a few special visitors, one of whom was Arthur Miall. He and the newest Cub had the privilege of jointly blowing out the candles on the cake.

Derek Batten (Batty) and L Smith, both King’s Scouts, had the honour of representing the Group at the 6th World Scout Jamboree in France where they enjoyed the experience of meeting Scouts from all over the world. From France they went directly to the Isle of Wight and met up with the rest of the Troop for their summer camp.

The weather at camp was great and with the site being located next to a creek several boys learnt to swim and they all had a lot of fun with a couple of rubber dinghies. There was however one mishap when Batty decided to set fire to some gorse close to a patrol tent and it took the whole Troop 20 minutes to extinguish the blaze. 

For some time there had been talk of the Group having their own headquarters and when work started on the foundations it looked like their ambition might become a reality. Fundraising started in earnest and one scheme involved collecting jam jars and soft drink bottles.

Another Dance (on this occasion a Barn Dance) was held in September, again at Gordon Hall, the home of the 10th Finchley.

At the end of September, inspired by the good weather at Summer Camp, several members of the Group, including Cubs, spent a long weekend camping at Forty Hall in Enfield. Despite the weather being quite unsettled a good time was had.

Five Senior Scouts from the Group were selected as some of Finchley’s representatives who sold programmes at the Royal Wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in November. They were fortunate to get a good view of the whole show. Later 3 Senior Scouts were on duty guarding the wedding presents at St James’s Palace.

During the war and for a short while after, Arthur took it upon himself to keep everyone in the Group in touch, including those evacuated and others serving in the forces. For example his 1947 bulletin let everyone know that Bob Hunt had injured his knee during a Troop meeting, necessitating a 3 week stay in hospital, and that Dennis Price had restarted boxing in the RAF and was the Heavyweight Champion of his group having won six fights in succession. A Guy Fawkes dance that attracted about 150 people also got a mention.

The year ended with a final dance on the 20th December, labelled ‘Christmas Crackers’ and the Scouts’ Christmas party. Both received a mention in the local press.

The first order of business for 1948 was the wedding of Bob Hunt. He married Barbara Surridge on 31st January at Holy Trinity Church, East Finchley. Upon leaving the church they passed under an arch of staves held by a 4th Finchley Guard of Honour. Directly from the wedding Peter Lachmann, Terry Howard and William Lloyd went off to complete their test for the King’s Scout Badge.

On the 21st February another dance was held but the main focus of attention was the new HQ and the endless discussions about what to call it.

On the 23rd February the Senior Scouts finally broke away from the Troop to become a separate section. Their first leader was John Mountain (Rastus) who was then followed by John (Johnnie) Richardson, a tall man, famous for his strength and appetite. As a Scout throughout the war, whilst completing a 14 mile, two day hike for the First Class badge, Johnnie’s progress was interrupted by an air-raid, a diversion near a prisoner-of-war camp and the reluctance of a farmer to allow camping.

On the same evening as they declared independence John Mountain and Derek Batten were finally presented with their King’s Scout Badge along with Peter Lachmann, Terry Howard and William Lloyd, who had only just completed the necessary requirements. The presentation was made by Maurice Cruickshank, the Assistant County Commissioner for Senior Scouts. A few weeks later the five new King’s Scouts had the pleasure of attending a ceremony at Imperial HQ, where the Chief Scout presented them with their certificate, and a month later they were among those that attended the annual Windsor parade.

The Troop held an Easter camp at Phasels Wood and a Whitsun camp at Cuckmans Farm, Potters Crouch in Herts.

The following appeared a while later in the Church Magazine: ‘The Scout Troop is reporting excellent progress; a fourth patrol has been started owing to an influx of numbers from the Cubs. The troop has gained several Trophies recently, and now possesses eight First Class Scouts, seven of whom are King’s Scouts, and six holders of the Bushman’s Thong.’ It is known that L Smith was one of the other King’s Scouts but the name of the 7th is not currently known.

Another dance was held in February but the main focus of attention was the new HQ and the endless discussions about what to call it. The jam jar collection was not going well with only 500 towards a target of 2000.

In March the five new King’s Scouts had the pleasure of attending a ceremony at Imperial HQ, where the Chief Scout presented them with their certificates, A month later they were among the number that attended the annual Windsor parade. 

One of the trophies referred to in the church magazine was the Yates Cup. In June the troop were declared the inaugural winners of this new award, given to the troop considered to be the most efficient for all-round activities.

The Cubs had a good year with keen star work being completed and visits to the Zoo and Pantomime. The Sixers attended the annual Sixers camp.

The Troop held an Easter camp at Phasels Wood and a Whitsun camp at Cuckman’s Farm, Potters Crouch in Herts.

The following appeared a while later in the Church Magazine: ‘The Scout Troop is reporting excellent progress; a fourth patrol has been started owing to an influx of numbers from the Cubs. The Troop has gained several Trophies recently, and now possesses eight First Class Scouts, seven of whom are King’s Scouts, and six holders of the Bushman’s Thong.’  It is known that L Smith was one of the other King’s Scouts but the name of the 7th is currently not known.

One of the trophies referred to in the church magazine was the Yates Cup. In June the Troop were declared the inaugural winners of this new award, given to the Troop considered to be the most efficient for all-round activities.

Over the weekend of the 1st/2nd May 7 teams of 3 entered the District Rover Hike Competition. The 4th entered two teams with Bob Hunt, Dennis Leopold and Derek McCauley finishing 2nd just 3 points behind the 11th Finchley; the other team comprised of John Richardson, Eddie Walker and Harry Moscow finished in 5th place.

There is no note as to the location of the hike but it involved covering 26 miles over 24 hours, and according to the 11th Finchley Log Book – “The examiners could not have picked a better weekend for competitive camping for the weather was absolutely ideal, it poured with rain, it stormed and thundered, the heavens literally opened and poured their wrath upon those poor unfortunates.”

Summer camp was held at Holkham in Norfolk with 33 members of the Scouts and Senior Scouts attending. This was a great success and a substantial report subsequently appeared in the press. It was reported that during the year well over 600 nights were spent under canvas by members of the Group.

Also during the summer, as one of the two Finchley representatives, Peter Lachmann attended the Scottish Jamborette at Blair Atholl. The unique thing about this camp was that individual patrols were formed that consisted of three Scottish Scouts and three from others from different nations.

The Scouts had in fact had quite a good year. Badge work had progressed nicely and they entered the usual District events and competitions, including football, handball, Sports where they finished 2nd and the Camping Competition where the Woodpecker Patrol also finished in 2nd place. In addition, under the umbrella heading of ‘Discover London’ they had been to the Tower of London and Madame Tussaud’s.

The Cubs had completed a lot of Star work and had visits to the Zoo and a Pantomime. The Sixers had attended the annual Sixers’ Camp.

The Senior Scouts had made good progress as a separate section and joined in many of the District events, including winning the sports for their age group. They had been to the Opera, the Theatre, Ice Hockey, Speedway and even to the Olympic Games that were taking place at Wembley Stadium. The 5 aforementioned King’s Scouts acted as stewards at the Bishops’ Conference held at Lambeth Palace, and in October they won the Senior Scout Hike Competition.

In September the Rover Crew decided that due to many of them having other commitments they would only hold one meeting a month, that being the on the first Thursday. In October Eric Merriman, one of the Rovers who had already started to make a name for himself in the entertainment business, hosted a radio show called ‘The Voice of Scouting’, The programme was sponsored by Imperial HQ and on each episode a famous person who had been a Scout was interviewed.

During the year it also became apparent that Arthur Miall was no longer able to continue as the GSM and he resigned his position, although a couple of years later he was made Honorary GSM. Alan Stilwell took over on a permanent basis, relieving Ray who had been covering the position.

The usual parents’ social was held towards the end of the year, giving the Group the opportunity to display trophies, photos and other items relating to their eventful year.

The year having started with a wedding also finished with one. The SM Dennis Price, who was currently serving in the RAF, married Phyllis Wilson.

1949 finally saw the occupation of the Group’s new HQ. However, before the opening ceremony the Scouts pressed on with their ‘Discover London’ visits. In January they paid a visit to J Lyons & Co. at Cadby Hall where they were given a full tour showing the production of a variety of their products.

In February another dance was held, this time to celebrate St Valentine’s Day.

After much discussion about the name for the H.Q. ‘PAX’ was finally agreed on. It was the name of BP’s home in Kenya. Each Patrol was given 15 shillings to decorate their corner. A special souvenir programme was produced and on 19th March the building was officially opened by Mr F Haydn Dimmock, the editor of ‘The Scout’.

The census confirmed that Group numbers remained healthy with there being 28 Cubs, 22 Scouts, 12 Senior Scouts and 5 Rovers. Later Barbara Hunt, Bib’s wife, joined the Group and became the CM.

In May Michael Holdup gained his King’s Scout Badge.

The Rover Hike Competition was held over the weekend of 30th April/1st May. Five teams entered and the event started with each team making camp in ‘The Spinney’ (not yet officially open) at Frith Grange, and preparing an evening meal. On the Sunday they had to plan a hike, leave the site by 10am and return by 4pm. The 4th achieved a score of 187 points out of a maximum of 225 which was enough to win the competition and be presented with the Franklin Cup.

In June the Scouts had a reasonably successful day. The Senior Scouts were 2nd in their category but the Rovers won their section and got to hold the Nellie Allen Lane Shield for four months of the year.

When ‘The Spinney’ at the Camping Ground was officially opened, on the 2nd July, the 4th like most other Groups played a part in the proceedings. They built and operated an aerial runway to give rides for children.

There were press reports about both the Scouts’ and Senior Scouts’ Summer Camps. They described the Scouts’ camp in Seaton, on the south coast of Dorset as ‘the best ever’ and nothing can be added to that report. Again, nothing can be added to the report about the Senior Scouts’ trip to the Lake District, other than to confirm that it was the first camp they had without a leader.

In October Arthur Miall was awarded the Medal of Merit for his contribution to Scouting that covered a number of years. Not only is he credited with helping to found the 4th Finchley and undertake several leadership roles but he was also the District Secretary for several years.

Over a weekend later in October the annual camping competition for Senior Scouts was held. Not only did the 4th win the event but, as a result, they contributed a significant number of points towards the Yates Cup.

The is not too much information available that covers 1950 although it is known that camping was a regular occurrence. The was an early camp at Forty Hall in Enfield, a Whitsun camp at Gorhambury Park, St Albans and a training hike/camp over Easter for the Patrol Leaders and Seconds. The Scouts’ Summer Camp at Falmouth, Cornwall and the Senior Scouts’ Expedition in Scotland both received press coverage.

The only other piece of information to appear in the press was the wedding of Alan Stillwell in August, where the Group provided a Guard of Honour.

Information about 1951 is also a bit thin but starts with the District Cross Country at the end of March. The Senior Scout Team, consisting of Barry McTeare, Ken Mason and Michael Staal, won their section and got to hold the Pulham Shield for 4 months.

The census figures confirmed that the Group were still doing well with 22 Cubs, 24 Scouts, 7 Senior Scouts and 4 Rovers. It also confirmed that there had been one new King’s Scout, this being Michael Staal.

Around this time Bob and Barbara Hunt resigned their positions as SM and CM. They were replaced by ‘Rastus’ and Gwendoline Tuvey.

The Scouts and Senior Scouts held a joint Easter Camp at High Wycombe and there was a Whitsun one at Hill End Farm. There nearly wasn’t a Summer Camp as ‘Rastus’ was not available but at the last minute Peter Lachmann and Hans Holdup, the ASM, stepped up and took a small group of boys to Grundisburgh, Suffolk. Due to a drop in numbers and the late notice there were in fact only 3 Patrols with 3 boys in each. Nevertheless, and despite forgetting to take the Trek Cart, they had a good time. There was a visit to Ipswich Power Station and all the usual activities. Bob and Helen Hunt together with John Richardson also paid them a visit.

At the time of the camp Peter Lachmann was in fact studying medicine at Cambridge. He later went on to become a Professor of Immunology at the University of Cambridge, a fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge and honorary fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge and of Imperial College. He was knighted for services to medical science in 2002.

As the summer progressed ‘Rastus’ resigned as the SM due to pressure of work and Hans Holdup was also unable to continue. The number of Scouts dropped and they were advised to transfer to another troop, and Tony McTeare and Bill Mountain moved to the 15th Finchley. The Cub Pack now being led by Winifred (Win) Tofield was doing OK and there were still more than 20 recorded as Rovers. Eventually Bob Hunt could no longer resist the call and returned as the SM. Tony McTeare returned from the 15th but Bill Mountain did not.

“A bit random” could possibly describe the information found for 1952. First of all there is a press cutting about a concert the Group’s supporters staged to raise funds. This is followed by a photo of the Group (principally the Cubs) at the St George’s Day Parade.

There is then a photo of Bill Bailey, Mac Caithness and Bob Hunt with a caption stating that they were the winners of the Rover Hike Competition. Unfortunately no other information about the event can be found.

A small number of photos relating to the Sixers’ Camp held over the weekend of 5th/6th July have been found and a separate note suggesting that there were more Rovers helping at the event than there were actual Sixers. At that time Mac Caithness was helping Win with the Cubs although he did not officially receive his warrant until a few months later.

Finally, a substantial press report and photos have been found covering the Summer Camp. This was held at Ardingly College, Sussex jointly with the 1st Finchley Air Scouts and the 3rd Finchley Sea Scouts.

Following the decline in Scout numbers over the last two years 1953 saw the start of the recovery process. In addition to Tony McTeare and Ian Tofield and a couple of new recruits some Cubs were sent up to the Scouts a little earlier than usual.

The Cub Pack however was still doing well. During the Winter they met in the Church Hall and in the summer several meetings were held in either the park or at the Camping Ground. At Easter they visited Hampstead Heath and at Whitsun they went to Ruislip Lido, where they were able to indulge in swimming, having pony & toy train rides, digging in the sand and watching the water skiers.

In June Tony McTeare was selected as one of the District’s representatives who sold the official programmes at the Queen’s Coronation. His section was outside John Lewis in Oxford Street and as the procession passed he was allowed to stand between the soldiers lining the route so he had a good view of Her Majesty.

Nine Cubs attended the District Sixers’ camp in July. Although there is no report there are a few photos.

Around now the following appeared in the Church Magazine: “We have received a very encouraging report on the progress made by the Scouts from Mr Bob Hunt. Five Cubs came up from the Pack recently and the Troop now numbers some dozen boys. ‘Bob a Job’ Week was a great success. The Scouts averaged 22/9 per head and the overall Group figure was 13/2 ½ per head. This was double last year’s figures. We have confidence that Mr Hunt will pull the Troop round and restore it to its former glory. He has a hard job ahead of him but is facing it hopefully. I hope that our members will give him every encouragement and support in the job.”

By the time of the Summer Camp there were 12 Scouts and for the first time ever every member of the Troop attended. Bob Hunt, Mac Caithness and Bill Bailey were the leaders although during the fortnight Wilf Hewitt, the ADC Senior Scouts, spent a few days with them, and visits were made by 6 Rovers for odd days. The camp was held at Kingsdown, then a Headquarters site in Deal, Kent where the boys were enjoyed all the usual activities and a visit to Dover Castle. A detailed report appeared in the press and a few photos have also been found.

Both the Cubs and Scouts went on a boat trip to Greenwich, where they visited the National Maritime Museum. The Cubs also went to Harringay Circus where they thoroughly enjoyed the antics of the clowns.

There was a social in November for parents and friends with more than 150 in attendance. A week later the Group held a Guy Fawkes Bonfire at the Camping Ground that was also attended by a large number of parents.

By the time of the census at the end of March 1954 everything was looking up. The Pack was thriving with 26 Cubs and the number of Scouts was up to 20. Test work was progressing well and badge work was being undertaken. The Senior Scouts (who were included in the Scout figure) continued to be led by Johnny Richardson and were doing well. 

Only 7 Rovers were recorded but this was because some were noted as leaders as others were on National Service. A copy of their draft programme for the year has been found but nothing else relating to the activities listed.

The Group held a very successful ‘At Home’ and AGM in May, which received some press coverage.

As usual the Sixers attended the Sixers’ Camp in July where there were there was a total of 83 Cubs.

The Scouts returned to Falmouth, Cornwall for their Summer Camp that was led by Bob Hunt with assistance from Peter Lachmann, Tom Lees and Robert Sinclair. There is no report of the camp but it is known that Wilf Hewitt and Bill Mountain visited for three days. Wilf organised a night hike for some of the older boys, which they found quite exhausting.

Two other photos relating to the year have been found. The first is of the Group lined up for a Church Parade and the other is of the whole Group.

The 1955 census figures at the end of March were similar to the previous year and all was still going well. The Group supporters also continued to work hard and raise much needed funds. Regular whist drives and a jumble sale were among the events they organised.

In April it was announced that Bob Hunt had been awarded the Medal of Merit for his good service to the Movement. Everyone at the 4th was extremely pleased as he had served the Group well for several years. However, the medal was not presented until the Parents’ Social later in the year.

The Patrol leaders and Seconds camped at Chalfont Heights over Easter. The camp was run by one of the ASMs with assistance from a few Rovers. The rest of the Troop hiked to the site on Good Friday and spent an enjoyable day there.

The Group’s AGM was held in May with an interesting variation. It was held at the Camping Ground with everyone gathered around the camp fire circle. After the formal part of the evening the fire, built by the Rovers, was lit. There then followed a sing song and various ‘stunts’ by the Troop.

Over the Whitsun weekend at the end of May the whole Troop camped at Potters Crouch near St Albans. Although there is no full report the following is an extract from the log:

As usual outings were a regular feature for both the Cubs and the Scouts. The Cubs went to the Tower of London, where they happened to meet Esther Williams, the famous film star and swimmer.

They also went to the Searchlight Tattoo at the White City. The Scouts continued their ‘Discover London’ visits that included a trip to the ‘Daily Mirror’ printing works and the Mount Pleasant Post Office. In June the Group, along with several parents went to the Albert Hall for a performance of ‘Boy Scout’ a show produced by Ralph Reader.

The annual Sixers’ Camp was held in July and as usual the 4th Finchley were well represented. This was another event at which the Rovers provided assistance.

Around this time the following appeared in the church magazine: “The Rovers are still progressing and, in addition to their normal activities, have, had a tennis tournament and a long evening hike. They have also found time to win the Rover section of the sports. As in previous years they are organising the entire Finchley Scouts Swimming Gala. They will also be looking after our contribution to the Church Fete.

Cubs (Leader, Mrs Tofield and Mr Caithness) have invested ten new recruits and there are now thirty Cubs and a waiting list of ten. The Pack tied for fifth position in the Sports. Mrs Tofield and Mr Caithness have attended a Finchley Cubmasters’ Training Camp.”

The Cubs won the Yates Cup as the best Pack for the previous 12 months.

Summer Camp was held at Shalfleet on the Isle of Wight and was considered to be one of the most successful ever held. The glorious sunshine the whole time helped somewhat towards that success. There were 21 boys in four Patrols plus Bob Hunt, Ken Mason, Mac Caithness and Tony McTeare who was now the Troop Leader. As usual Wilf Hewitt also paid them a visit. Plenty of fun was had and a lot of test and badge work was completed. Pioneering was to the fore with an aerial runway and monkey bridge being built. A full report appeared in the press.

Around this time it also became known that Bob Hunt was moving to Hove, Sussex and would leave the Group. The following appeared in the church magazine: “Another friend who will move to Hove later this year is GSM Bob Hunt. We shall be very sorry to lose him from the Scout Group for it is largely due to his enthusiasm and energy that the Group has regained its former vigour. But most of all it is for his own sake that we shall be sorry to lose him. He has been a real friend to all and we shall not enjoy parting with him. With characteristic thoroughness he has arranged for continuity of leadership and the names he has in mind will be presented at Church Meeting at the appropriate time.”

During August an International Patrol Camp was held at Gilwell Park. Six Scouts from Finchley were selected to attend, including Ian Tofield and David Rogers from the 4th. During the camp they acted as hosts to six Danes. The Mayor and Mayoress of Finchley were kind enough to visit the camp and spend some time chatting to the boys.

In September the following update about Bob Hunt and the Group appeared in the church magazine: “Last month we announced with keen regret the impending removal of our GSM Mr Bob Hunt to Hove. We thank him most sincerely for all that he has accomplished in the Group. It will not be long before he is in Scouting down there, and we wish him every happiness and success in his work. At our last Church Meeting, we approved the following appointments:- GSM Mr A G Ballard; SM Mr J Richardson; ASM Mr  Lees; ASM Mr B McTeare. All are known to us except Mr Ballard, to whom we give a special welcome. We look forward with pleasure to continued co-operation with the Scouts.”

The Parents’ Social was held in November, when The District Commissioner, Mr Allen, presented Bob Hunt with his Medal of Merit. The Group also presented him with a canteen of cutlery in thanks for the work he had done with the 4th. At the same time a presentation of a musical cigarette box was made to Alan Stillwell who had been the Group Treasurer for several years, and having previously been a GSM of the Group.

Later in the month the whole Group attended the London Gang Show at the Golders Green Hippodrome.

The year finished with the Cubs’ annual party that was once again deemed to be a success. A supper of sausages, baked potatoes and dozens of cakes was followed by a session of cartoon films.


More to follow.



Click here to view 4th Finchley photographs.

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