13th/21st Harrow
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About Us » History of the Group

Group History Part 1: 1924 to 1973
by Ian McLuckie

The current 13th/21st Harrow is a combination of four existing Groups, and came into existence on 1st April 1983.  The constituent Groups were the 13th, 14th, 18th and 21st Harrow.

The 13th Harrow

The 13th Harrow was the first to be formed in 1924, but had to close temporarily on the outbreak of War in 1939. The Scottish connections of the then Presbyterian Church were embodied in the tartan scarf. Hunting Stewart was chosen as it contained the three representative colours of the then three sections, yellow for Cubs, green for Scouts and red for Rovers.  The driving forces in the pre war days were Stewart Anderson, David Woosley and Jack Russell.
In the early days, the Scouts wore kilts, and somewhere there is a photo taken in about 1925 of the Troop beside the Church in Woodlands Road. Unfortunately, this photo cannot be found.

Although the Group was not re-formed by  Jack Dack  until 1950, an unofficial Cub Pack ran for about 18 months between 1946 and 1948 There were only about 15 members at the most, and very few were able to have a Uniform as these were still in short supply after the War. The Pack (such as it was) was  run by  Betty Childerhouse and later by Stuart Lyon. A photo exists showing the Pack in the old Trinity Church Garden in 1947. A couple of Cubs managed to get their first star, but there were no facilities for any badge work. The ‘Pack’ closed in 1948, and nothing then happened until the official registration in 1950. Jack Dack who restarted the Group also ran the Cubs briefly before handing the Pack over to John Miller in 1952.  He remained as Group Scout Master until 1955, before retiring.  John Miller ran the Pack until 1961, before handing over to Ian McLuckie when the Millers moved away. Those who helped with the Pack over the years included  Les Turner, Bill Williams, Jenny Miller Ken Day and Wendy Raeburn. It was in this year that  the Pack won its first major trophy, the Football League. They won it again in 1979.

In 1959, the then organist of Trinity, Harold Scull wrote a ‘Fanfare and Processional’ for the Parade Services. This went out of use in the mid sixties, but was revived by Ian McLuckie  in the new Trinity Church in the early 2000’s.

In 1955, the Pack became the first in the District to Camp. In the years leading up to 1978 the 13th and 21st Harrow Packs camped together, sometimes with the 16th and 14th/18th Packs. The first Camp was held on a farm near Elstree, but for several years after this  the venue was Mad Bess Woods, Ruislip followed by Waxwell, now Northern Heights, and then Chalfont. In 1978, the joint Cub camping ended, as the 13th wanted to develop the idea of a Group Camp. The first one was held at Chalfont (now Paccar), and this has continued over the years although in a different format.

In 1965 both the 13th and 21st Harrow Packs attended the first District Cub Camp at Waxwell. This was followed by another one in 1968, but since then they have only  been held to commemorate anniversaries, the last such being 1986. District Camps for all sections started in 1997.

The Pack was always keen to gain badges. In 1977, there were 16 Cub  Proficiency badges, in that year Nicky Jackson became the first Cub in the District  to gain all 16. Later that year, four more were introduced, and, the following year Gavin Prunty became the first Cub in the District to gain all 20.

In 1967, the District held its first Sponsored Walk  for Charities, and also to help the funds of Groups in the District.  Although the other three Groups all took part, the 13th led the way in the District with money raised, and numbers of young people taking part. These Walks started round Harrow Hill, based at Peterborough Playing fields ( now a Garden Centre and Café.) By 1981, Watford Road was considered too dangerous, so the venue moved to Bannister Playing Fields, with a circular route mainly down Brookshill. In 1999, following  a minor incident, the venue was changed to Kenton Park, based at the 4th Harrow HQ. There it continued until 2005, when it was felt it has run its course.  Over the years, both the 13th, and the combined Group raised in excess of £30, 000 for Group and Charities, and hundreds of young people took part. There were some perks, with Cubs being invited to present cheques at Childrens’ Homes and Hospitals. The most notable of these was the Walk done in 1983   aid of Harefield Hospoital, just weeks after the Groups merged. As it was high profile it is mentioned here, although technically it should appear in Part two.  If the photo of the Cubs with Sir Magdi Yacoub can be found, it will appear on this web site.
The Walk is being revived for 2013 in aid of a Charity called ‘Tree of Life’, and also to help the funds of  Groups in the District.

Up to 1983, the Pack won many  District sporting trophies in football, swimming and the Leading Athlete .The Pack’s first winner of the latter was Carson Russell in 1974. ( His daughter Hannah has just won a Silver medal at the 2012 Paralympic games.) Subsequent winners included Kanukai Jackson and Stewart French.

On the Scout side, the initial mainstay was John Anderson, who, when he went to University handed over to Ron Reynolds, who was assisted by Mike Dakin ,Dave Turner , John Marshall, and, latterly Wally Shearsby, Alan Collins and John Cozens.  In 1961, the Troop won the District Camping Competition, the Harris Cup. Alan took over from Wally in 1972, and ran the Troop until 1978 when  he left.   John then  took over  the Troop. He had been an Assistant Scout Leader for some years, assisting both Wally and Alan, and ran the Troop until the merger in 1983.

 Another mainstay of the Group in the fifties and beyond was Bill Crighton, who came to Harrow from Aberdeen in the early fifties. He joined the Group in 1955 and ran a Senior Scout Troop before becoming Group Scout Master in 1960. He continued in this post until 1972 before handing over to Ian.  Bill continued to support the United Group on the lay side  (see Part 2.)

The 14th Harrow

The 14th Harrow was formed in 1925, and met at the old Methodist Church in Bessborough Road, now a block of flats. The main stalwarts of that Group were Audrey Moxon as Cub Leader, Helen Bishop as a long time assistant and Derek Duker was Scout Leader. It wore the traditional Methodist colours of green and red.

The 18th Harrow

The 18th Harrow was thought to have been formed in the early twenties by a Mr. Davey.  It met at the old Welldon Crescent Church Hall  in Welldon Crescent, (now the Welldon Community Centre)  The scarf colour was black and pale blue.

This was never a particularly large Group, but had a strong Cub Pack led by Phyll Gretton who was assisted as Kaa by Mollie Carden.   Phyll became Akela in the mid thirties and was a very efficient and popular Leader. For some years she was also District Cub Mistress  and continued in the Group until she became become ADC Cubs in 1966. (It is interesting to note that in 1939, a full Cub Uniform cost 16 shillings, about 80 pence in today’s money).

In 1939, on the outbreak of war, the Group Scoutmaster was Wilfrid Riches with his younger brother Aubrey acting as Scout Master. Both spent a lot of time supporting George Egan by post in running the Troop until their deaths.  Both were however called up, and help to the Troop was given by  Mollie Carden.  Mollie  introduced the Troop to many outings and activities, and was assisted by the Patrol Leaders of the time, George Egan, Gordon Ratcliffe and Geoff Howard. George eventually took over the duties of Assistant Scout Master. Sadly both Wilfred and Aubrey were killed in action in August 1944. As the war drew to a close, George was assisted by a Scouting family from East London. Kim Smyth carried out the duties of GSM, while his son Laurie helped out as a Scouter. Gordon Ratcliffe went off to study medicine , and his brother Stan became GSM between 1945 and 1949, when he too left for University. Support for George in the Troop came from his brother in law John Fulljames  who had been in the Navy. He became ASM in the Troop, as well as being the Warden of the then Scout Park in Blawith Road.  This was pulled down to make way for the Civic Centre, and  a new District Headquarters was built in Walton Road.

Also in about 1949 Walter Bowron (Bunda) joined the Group, becoming the new GSM and well as running a Senior Scout Troop with much success.
Walter went on to become ADC (General Duties) and later played a part in the new United Group  (see part 2.)

It is thought that the Group only had one King’s Scout ,the late Tony Smith.
In the late forties and early fifties the Group had a very active Group Committee. By 1948 the Group were fully equipped with Niger tents  along with cooking gear and pioneering equipment. They were also able to go to Camp in a coach rather than a removal lorry. The Committee also funded a new Scout HQ to the left of the Church. This was removed when the new domed hall was built in the 1960s  Until the Groups merged, the equipment was  stored in the loft of the new Hall.

The Group never had a Rover Crew, but those interested were welcomed into the 11th Harrow Crew which met at Quainton Hall School. 

In 1972  the Bessborough Road  Methodist Church closed, and the 14th combined with the 18th to form the 14th/18th which met at Welldon. For their scarf, they took the black from the 18th and the red from the 14th, to arrive at the black and red scarf which our current Group wears today. Leaders at that time were Doug Smith in the Cubs, and Charles Gee in the Scouts, who was also GSL. Sadly the Group closed in  1980.

The 21st Harrow

The 21st Harrow was founded in 1927, and ran at Hindes Road  without  a break before merging with the 13th in 1983. Its terracotta scarf was believed to be one of the few in the Country. The original Scoutmaster was  Jim Hatch, but when he moved away the Group continued to thrive under the leadership of ‘Diggie Figures’ In the early years of the second World War  Horace Pleasants took over as Group Scout Master where he remained until the late 1960s.  Horace also became ADC (General Duties)  Other familiar names which may still be remembered are the Orchard family who had strong connections with the Group.  Mr. and Mrs. Mrs. Orchard were on the Parents’ Committee , Elma, along with her younger sister Mary were Lady Cub Mistresses at one time. After ‘Diggy’ left the Scouts and Kath left the Cubs, for a short time Eric Ellis ran the Scouts and Mary Ellis ran the Cubs assisted by Brenda Marfleet. It was about this time that Lewis and David Bathard joined the Group.

Elma Orchard and her younger sister Mary actually took over from Mary Ellis.
Elma then moved to the 2nd Harrow (their HQ is now the Cresswell Room at the DAC) Mary was Akela  from 1950 to 1956 before handing over to Doreen Marriott.
Arthur Orchard  was one of the first Senior Scout  Leaders in the Group, whilst Eddie was active in the Senior Troop In  1949 (we think) Arthur and Pinky attended a four week-end training Camp at Well End, which led to the formation of Senior Scouts .It was a very cold Week-end camping in two man hike tents. In 1950, an exhibition was held in the Church hall to promote Senior Scouting.

 Andre Pirouet was Rover Scout Leader for a long period , also becoming District Rover Scout Leader. It is thought that Andre attended the first World Scout Jamboree held at Birkenhead, and that Eddie Orchard represented the Troop at the first post War Jamboree held at Moisson in France in 1947.

The new Rover Den was opened in 1956. The building later became the Church Lounge, prior to the recent re building.

After Eric Ellis, the Scouts were looked after by two 4th Harrow Rovers, Ted Garnham and  Arthur Mayhew. Horace Pleasants joined the Group soon after.

Bob Mansell was Scoutmaster in the late 1950s, early 1960s  and he also became District Scoutmaster. Richard Mann, Gerry and Brian Horne, David Seymour, John Dobson, Mike Patterson and Derek Riley were all involved with the Scout Troop at some stage.  The Group  also had a strong Senior Troop with Leaders such as Peter (Pinky) Grives, who was one of the first in the Troop. John Yates, Alec Field,  Pat Mann and Lewis Bathard all ran the Seniors on separate occasions, the latter becoming  District Senior Scout Leader prior to the Advance Party Report and the start of Venture Scouting in 1967.  Kath Hidden, who assisted Mary Ellis  subsequently moved to the then new 5th Harrow, and became District Cub Leader. Doreen Marriott ran the Cubs for many years, but handed the Pack over to Sheilah Lowe on becoming ADC Cubs in the mid seventies. Margaret Gibbons also  helped both Doreen and Sheilah before moving to lead the 1st Hatch End Pack  Sheilah ran it until 1982. During this time she was assisted by her husband Sam, Maureen Carpenter and Norma Howard.

Also in 1967, Horace became the first in any of the constituent Groups to be awarded the Silver Acorn, Scouting’s third highest Award.

The 4th Harrow Rovers also helped other Groups in the area. For a period, the 23rd Harrow met with the 21st. as well as the 13th. The 13th’s  trek cart was lighter  than that of the 21st to pull to sites like Phasels loaded with Patrol tents.  With the old trek carts, you could take the wheels off, and with the clamps at the four corners and with Scout staves it was possible to make a table. The four sides when taken off could also  be made into a ladder.

On the lay side , Bob Jeffries was Group Chairman for many years in the 60s and 70s. 
It  was reported that between the end of the Second World War and the beginning of 1960  the Group had gained 27 Kings/Queens Scout badges and that the Pack had won the District Handicraft Competition twice. The Troop had  had three successes in the District Camping Competition, the Harris Cup.  At one such Competition, the winning Patrol had  a Totem Pole which Arthur and a friend from the 2nd Harrow had carved. and the Seniors had gained the Jabez Barnes trophy twice.

During the War, several of the boys gained their National Service badges by acting as messenger boys connected with ARP posts and Police Fire and Ambulance Stations.
There were no mobile phoned in those days, and not many houses had land line phones either. There were Police phone boxes and emergency fire alarms on many street corners and emergency push buttons o in the Post Office Public phone boxes.  The Scouts also helped to erect Morrison shelters in many people’s homes. They also went round the streets with trek carts collecting old newspapers and jam jars organised from the old Scout Park (now the site of the Civic Centre.) One Akela used to take Cubs around in her pony and trap.   In 1948, some Senior Scouts helped out at the Olympic Games as marshals.

In the late 1940s, the Group took part in the ‘Hearth and Mine’ scheme. This was started in 1947 by the then Health Secretary Aneurin Bevan. This linked groups of young people from London to communities in Wales.  Members of the Group were linked up with a Scout Group in the Rhondda Valley, the 1st Pontygwaith.  Eddie Orchard, a Scout at the time recalls a visit there by train. Arriving at night, the Scouts say what they thought were stars in the sky, only to discover the next morning that they were the  lights of the houses on the sides of the valleys.. One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to a local coal mine. Although they did not dig for any coal, they got very dirty and needed a shower afterwards.
A return trip took place, and the Welsh Scouts took part in a demonstration Camp at Hamilton’s Sports Ground, then at the end of Woodlands Road.
Despite the occasional suggestion it has not been possible to maintain the Welsh  link, either in 1997, the 50th Anniversary of the scheme, or in 2003, the 60th  Birthday of the 1st Pontygwaith.

In 1963, seven Senior Scouts led by Lewis Bathard went on an expedition to Lisbon, Portugal by minibus, travelling through France and Spain.

The two  Cub Packs met together for a year  before the formation of the new Group in 1983.

June 2012 saw the completion of 85 years of continuous Scouting on the Hindes Road site.

With the closure of the old Presbyterian  and Welldon Crescent Churches in 1975, there was a situation when both  the 13th and 21st met at Hindes Road.  The 13th had the stronger Cub section, led by Ian McLuckie, and the 21st had the stronger Scout section, led by Derek Riley.

In 1982, the authorities in the new Trinity Church felt there should be one strong Scout Group instead of two weaker ones  so the new Group was formed on April lst 1983.

Part Two to follow soon.

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