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SCOUTING IN BREWOOD

 

1st Brewood Scout Group

Starting in January 1908 Robert Baden-Powell’s book “Scouting for Boys” was published in six fortnightly parts.  It was eagerly read by boys who were inspired to band together to practise the activities suggested by Baden-Powell (BP).  Many of these ad hoc groups asked adults to help and lead them and these groups became the first scout troops.  Brewood had an early group.  We do not know exactly when it was formed but we have a photograph of a parade in the village to mark the funeral of King Edward V11 in 1910 and the scout troop is leading the parade.  This troop was the    1st Brewood Scout Group and was formed at Brewood Grammar School.  Only boys who attended the school were permitted to join.  The troop ceased to exist when the Grammar School closed in the early 1970’s.

 

2nd Brewood Scout Group

In 1960 a new vicar, the Rev. Cyril Bishop, came to the village.  He was concerned at the lack of youth facilities so he invited people he thought might be interested to meet with him and discuss the starting of a scout group.  The response was good; a parents’ committee formed and both a scout troop and a cub pack emerged.  At the start the troop had about a dozen boys largely drawn from the church choir.  Murray Winmill was the Group Scout Leader.  The 2nd Brewood Scout Group was officially registered with the Scout Association on 1st March 1961.

Although the Vicar had played a major part in its formation he stated that it should be an “open” group that boys of any religious denomination could join.  He also provided the first meeting place which was a room above the stables at the then vicarage in Vicarage Road and he allowed the boys to use the carved and sprung wooden bier as a trek cart when they camped at Kiddemore Green.   The link with the Church was kept by choosing the heraldic colours (red & grey) of the Deans of Lichfield Cathedral for our scarves.

 

The Wakefield Headquarters (“The Hut”)

To function most effectively a scout group needs its own headquarters.  The room above the stables did good service but was limited in size and had a rotting floor.  Fundraising for a new building had started when, in 1963, the Rev. Bishop unexpectedly died.  Mrs Bishop requested that no flowers should be sent to his funeral but instead, donations to be made to the Scout Group.  We received over £100.

In 1964 the R.A.F. camp at Bridgnorth was being closed and the wooden barrack huts sold off.  £200 was the asking price but we did not have that much.  Mr Jack Evans, the Group Chairman, negotiated the price down to £165 on condition the hut was dismantled and removed within four weeks.  For three weekends in November parents worked dismantling the hut and on the fourth weekend, in a snowstorm, the pieces were loaded onto a hired lorry and transported back to Brewood.

After much negotiation, the County Council agreed to lease to us a strip of land off Deansfield Road and throughout 1965 and into 1966 work went on re-erecting and equipping the hut.  Most of the work was done voluntarily by parents and supporters who also raised the money for materials.  On 10th July 1966 the hut was officially opened.  The total cost had been £625 which had all been raised in the village.

An old Brewood family, the Wakefields, had been very supportive and had donated money and equipment.  In her will Margaret Wakefield left £5,000 to the Group for a new headquarters but the money was not to be available until the death of her sister.  When it became available in 1980 it was not sufficient for a new headquarters but it did enable an extensive refurbishment to be carried out.  The hut is named “The Wakefield Headquarters” in memory and appreciation of all that the Wakefields did for us.

A second refurbishment was carried out in 1987 after an arsonist set fire to the hut severely damaging one end of the building.  Our insurance met the cost of this refurbishment.  In the weeks when we were unable to meet in the hut the Venture Scouts met in a room at the British Legion in Shop Lane, the Troop met in the Youth Club next door and the Cub Pack at St. Mary’s R.C. School. All this accommodation was provided free of charge for which we were very grateful.  The arsonist was arrested a few weeks after our fire as he tried to burn down Codsall High School.

 

The Development of the Group

In the 1960’s there were many young families in Brewood and the Group grew steadily in numbers.  By 1975 there were over 90 cubs spread between three packs, two in Brewood and one in Bishop’s Wood, a scout troop of about forty boys and a venture unit of nine (older boys of 15+ years).    In 1979 girls were admitted into the Venture Unit.  In 1980 Murray Winmill retired and Peter Plowright was chosen as the Group Scout Leader.

 

By the early 1980’s there had been a drop in the number of young people in the population and this resulted in a drop in scout numbers throughout the UK.  The Scout Association authorised a new section, Beaver Scouts, for boys of six years old.  We started our Beaver Colony in 1986. By the late 1980’s our Cub Section had reduced to one large pack. In 2000 Peter Plowright retired as GSL and Mike Philpotts took over as Scouter-in-Charge until the appointment in 2001 of Patrick Jones as the GSL.  In 2005 we admitted girls to all the sections of the Group.  Patrick resigned in 2010 and in 2011 Ian Morris was appointed GSL. In the summer of 2017, Ian Morris retired from the group as group scout leader and Geoff Hopwood is appointed Scouter-in-Charge.

2nd Brewood 2012

Although numbers have reduced at any one time we have between sixty and seventy boys and girls attending our meetings spread across four sections:

  1. The Beaver Colony (6 – 8 years)
  2. The Cub Pack (8 – 10.5 years)
  3. The Scout Troop (10.5 – 14.5 years)
  4. The Explorers (14.5 – 18 Years).
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