NOTE: This article is about the 5th Finchley that was formed in 1935 at the Congregational Church, North Finchley. However, it should be mentioned that the number 5 had been used on at least two previous occasions.
The first appearance is in the District census for 1921 (the earliest we have found) and shows a 5th Finchley (subtitled 81st North London), with the registration number 2645. At that time there was also a 2nd Finchley. The meeting place of both was not recorded. In 1922 the two Groups still exist but Mr R Fouracre was named as one of the leaders of the 5th Finchley (81st NL). From a press cutting some years later we learn that during the course of the following year the 2nd Finchley and 5th Finchley merged. The census for 1924 supports this as there is no 5th Finchley listed, the 2nd Finchley is using the registration number 2645 and it is now subtitled 81st North London.
In 1927 the 5th Finchley reappears in the census but with a new registration number and is noted as being a Roman Catholic Group that met at St Alban’s Church in Nether Street. Apart from knowing they entered the District sports in 1929 nothing else is currently known about them. They do not appear in the 1930 census.
In April 1935 at a meeting of the District Executive it was resolved “that the registration of a controlled Group in connection with the Congregational Church, North Finchley be approved”. It was also resolved “that the new Group be known as the 5th Finchley Group”. However, it is not known who was responsible for requesting the formation of the Group.
The first Scoutmaster (SM) was Charles Sanders and at the time of the census later in the year, he was recorded as leading six Scouts. It has later been discovered that three of those boys were A Chettle, J Cooper and D Bradford. Within a year numbers had doubled, with the number of Scouts up to 12 and the additional leader being L B (Basil) Pilgrim as an Assistant Scoutmaster (ASM).
During 1936 they also held a summer camp in the New Forest at Boldre, near Lymington in Hampshire. This was a joint venture with the 8th and 18th Finchley, with there being 3 leaders and 30 boys. Charlie Sanders was away and unable to attend so the boys from the 5th were under the care of Basil Pilgrim, who had never been camping before, and Harry Sanders a younger brother of Charlie who was recruited to help. In October Charlie Sanders resigned as the SM.
It is recorded that the Cub Pack also started in 1936, although the census interestingly states that there were 2 leaders but no Cubs.
In January 1937 it is recorded that W R Wykes became the Cub Master but in October of the following year he was forced to resign due to ill health.
In April 1937 nine members of the Group entered the District Cross Country and were fairly successful. They finished third overall but Basil won the race for those over the age of 19. Other noteworthy events were that Summer Camp was held in Fulking, Sussex; the District AGM report noted the Group as having ‘made great strides during the year’; Basil Pilgrim took on the duties of the Group Scoutmaster; and a successful Parents’ Evening was held in the November.
The Scouts were not quite as successful in the 1938 Cross Country, finishing 5th overall. They did however manage to do more camping, and in addition to a ten day summer camp near Bridport in Dorset, they had several weekend camps.
In June the Group took part in the ‘Good Turn Rally’ that was held at the Camping Ground. This event was held to raise money for the Boy Scouts’ Fund, opened as a national tribute to the work of the Chief Scout, Lord Baden Powell, so that for all time Scouting would be financially secure. The Group’s contribution in the arena was an item called ‘Camp Looms’.
The Group continued to grow with 31 Scouts, 16 Cubs and a total of 7 leaders being recorded on the census. They held their first concert and along with the 12th Finchley Scouts provided a Guard of Honour for the Mayor when he attended a showing of the film ‘Youth Marches On’ at the Finchley Odeon.
In 1939 the Scouts came out on top at the Cross Country, winning the Pulham Shield for the first time. In July Basil formally received his warrant as the Group Scoutmaster. Summer Camp was held in the Wye Valley and a highlight of that was a trip to a local coal mine where they were shown around the surface workings. Later in the year the Group held another successful concert and launched a regular magazine. At Christmas they organised a party for 24 poor boys.
By 1940 the Group had started its own Rover Crew but with the war underway things were getting more difficult. The Scouts managed to go camping in August but with 6 leaders on active service, including Basil, the Scouts joined the 15th Finchley on a temporary basis.
In 1941 there is a note that says 30 Cubs and Rovers marched from Nether Street to St Mary’s Church in Finchley for the memorial service of the Chief Scout, Baden-Powell, who had died in January at the age of 83.
Basil, who was in India, started a war time newsletter in order to keep in touch with the Group as much as he could. The Cubs won the Sports in 1942 but during the rest of the war years several members of the Group met with 15th Finchley, and the 5th was recorded as ‘Dormant’ on the census returns.
One interesting snippet from 1943 though is that, although the 15th Finchley Stag Patrol won the District Patrol Competition, the Patrol Leader was David Butler, a member of the 5th Finchley.
In 1946 Basil was demobbed and upon his return he found that there were still 6 boys wearing the 5th Finchley scarf at their joint meetings with the 15th Finchley. These boys together with 6 more from the church enabled the Troop to resume before the end of the year. They formed 2 Patrols with A Bullock and J Baxter as the PLs. The Cubs were also fortunate with Mrs Moore coming forward to become their leader.
More to follow.
I will commence by recalling the first camp which the Troop ever had. This was held at Boldre near Lymington in the New Forest. The Camp was run in conjunction with the 8th and 18th Finchley Troops and together there were about 30 Scouts. Mr (Charles) Sanders, who was then the 5th SM, was away at the time and I was a newcomer to camping. As you know all camps start a long time before the actual tents are pitched and you can imagine how bewildered I was when I received various forms from Messrs Booth and Blakey (8th & 18th SMs). However I eventually managed to get these things settled and then hurriedly checked over my Speed Iron in readiness for the great day. The Scouts all went down by lorry, and from what I heard the speed limit was exceeded amid great encouragement from the boys. Mr Booth had a car in which believe Mr (Harry) Sanders travelled amid mountains of kit. I left Finchley about 2 o’clock and well remember being so excited that I ran out of petrol and had to push my motorbike for about half a mile.
Anyway I arrived in the mid and was greeted over the hedge by Ken Pibsworth, ASM of the 18th. Everybody else had apparently gone off into the forest to do a little exploring, but they soon came back and I saw many new faces.
I believe the Scouts from the 5th that attended this camp were: H Sanders ‘Bert’ (now SM) Derrick Ascott (now ASM), H. Judd (Nobby), Jack Rogers (Jerry), Ken Chettle, Ron Hart, Pete Cooper and Ted Butler (now ASM). I am not quite sure of all this, so if I have missed anybody out, please do not come down on me too heavily, as I have nothing to assist my memory with me here, although at home I have a photograph of the complete crowd. I can remember by name Prosser and Don Hutohett (who later joined the 5th) of the 8th. (The old 8th incidentally has passed on and a new 8th has happened – ED) Of the 18th I can remember Gundy, Luck, Tubby Dowe, Ken and Bob Harding. I can remember the faces of many more but one who comes especially to mind is a little boy of the 54th Bournemouth who attended the Camp, He was called 54 and was known for his confident and plucky manner, being a great favourite of us all.
Our Scouts slept in a tent together with a pet gramophone which had the habit of screeching forth at various moments, but I will tell more of this later. The 5th Scouters, of whom there were three, also slept in a tent together, but that also is a story for the next issue.
L B Pilgrim GSM – 5th Finchley
(Taken from a 1941 War Time Newsletter)
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I was a Scout with the 5th Finchley between 1961 and 1968 and have some very happy memories. Basil Pilgrim was our ‘Skip’ and he did a really great job at running the Troop. He was a man with a strong Christian faith and I can remember him once telling me not to blaspheme when I said to one of my Patrol (The Stags) – ‘For God’s sake don’t do that.’ Other Scouts I remember were Phillip Watkins (no relation), Robert Newman, Paul Davis and Malcolm Wilford who wanted to join the RAF.
I went on all Spring and Summer camps travelling in the back of a removal lorry sitting on all our kit. Spring camps were often at the permanent site at Barnes Wood. Our Summer camps could have been anywhere in the South East although one year we went to Switzerland. In 1966 though we went to Yorkshire and on the day of the World Cup Final a rock climbing session was arranged but ‘Skip’ had also arranged for the older boys to watch the football match on the TV at the house of a local Scout Leader. The only other leader at the 5th who mainly helped at camps was Pete Barnes. Pete was a nice guy who would make a big billy of cocoa each night and with his Tilley lamp take it around each tent providing a hot drink before sleep.
At District level I remember Wilf Hewitt who attended our meeting and camps on a few occasions. When we had to do the day hike as part of our “training” in order to prove we had followed the route at certain points we needed to find and sign a sheet of paper. These were hidden in jars or cigar tubes behind church benches or post boxes etc.. Apparently it was Wilf who placed and checked these. Skip would point out that we should be careful to ensure nobody saw us looking for them. And, when he camped with us he would sleep in the smallest one man bivouac I had ever seen.
Roger Watkins – 5th Finchley
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