Group History

Part One, The Early Years
The formation of Kangaroo Patrol by R.S. Chapman in February 1915 was the almost first act of a long and as yet incomplete story, for the Boltonian of 1910 speaks of “Scout Games”. It must have seemed a bold act: at the time Scouting was only eight years old, and although it was certainly taken up with enthusiasm in the Bolton area, in schools it was rare: such activities as camping and hiking were thought to be rather subversive, the prevailing fashion being more militaristic. Indeed, a corps of army cadets flourished at Bolton School at the time and the two organizations camped happily together for several years. The real birth of the Troop (for that was the only section for another five years) was with the arrival of H.V. Brookes in 1919. Straight from the army himself and with no previous scouting experience he was asked to ‘help out for a bit’. The temporary leadership of the first few years was rapidly built upon with dedication as Bill gave the rest of his long life first to the Troop and then to the Group. From this year we see the appearance of many of the regular features of life in the 19th. – long camp, overseas trek, Easter trek, King’s Scouts and soon the various trophies and competitions. The Group was properly constituted when the Rover Crew was formed in 1925. It was the arrival of H.A. Porter in 1929 and H.A. Mayor in 1933 which fuelled a rapid expansion of members and activities: no doubt the coincidence of F.R. Poskitt’s taking over the Headship also contributed. But whatever it was, the main result was the creation in 1933 of a Senior Troop – some fourteen years before such an idea was taken up nationally! It was a vintage year evidently, for canoe camping on the Ribble is recorded then too. Concerts began in 1937, followed all too soon by yet another World War – more sad names to add to the memorial – A.R.P. work and evacuees, pig rearing and forestry camps. The first H.Q. – Makants – burnt down in 1946, so Belair became next home, but the destruction of equipment in the fire called for something new – in other words a Group Committee; something impossible to do without now but an astonishing phenomenon in 1946.

Part Two, The Woodlands Years
The long haul to normality after the war was sealed by the construction of Woodlands H.Q. round a disused coachouse at a cost to the Group of £3000 at 1951 values. This tremendous project involved prodigious fund-raising which continued until 1963 when the plan was finally completed with a second floor at £1800. The Committees which undertook this work should be long- remembered C.A. Slipper joined the Scouter strength in 1950 – the fourth member of the teaching staff to do so. He masterminded the growth of the Seniors and the new Senior Scout training programme. The departure of H.A. Mayor and C.A. Slipper and the arrival of R.C. Kirk and D. Allen mark the beginning of the most recent period of our history. Roger inherited leadership of the Troop from H.A. Porter and then the Group from H.V. Brookes, whilst David took on the Senior Troop from H.V. Brookes. In 1965 the Group celebrated its fiftieth year with confidence, little realizing what was lurking: the reforms of 1967 swept away all the old familiar signpost… shorts, big hats, poles, Tenderfoot knots, Rovers, Senior Scouts: even the Ten Laws were no longer sacred. The new training schemes for Scouts and the new section of Venture Scouts have taken many years to adapt to our circumstances. This is not to say that things ground to a halt: camps, canoeing, local district events, fetes, the Republic of England, more and more Scout coaches! Most exciting developments of the last few years have been Cub Scouts since December 1979, and girl Venture Scouts since December 1981, a flow of Chief Scout and Queen’s Scout awards, Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards at all levels, and a flush of new leaders and assistants – new life for a new Group in an old shell. But ……………

Part Three, The Move to Brookside
The Headquarters and fields at Woodlands became a valuable source of building land, and after a frantic period in which the Scouts met at School, the Venture Scouts in the Leverhulme Pavilion and the Old Scouts in an old caravan, we had a new and lavish suite of premises at Brookside, down Ladybridge Lane, with fields and woods, stables and storage very much to hand. Their decoration and furnishing took months of volunteer time, mainly in taking nails out of the old mill maple flooring! The School subsequently took over management and maintenance of the buildings and site, so our financial pressures were much eased. The buildings are additionally much used for non-scouting purposes, and have proved a great school asset. The interest from generous legacies of H.A. Porter’s and Tom Markland’s estates enabled the Group to celebrate the Millennium in style with a joint Long Camp in Canada.
The new millennium has seen a further change at the older end with Venture Scouts morphing into Explorers, a District rather than Group based section. Our own Venture Unit became the ‘Paradox’ Explorers and continues to meet each Friday at Brookside.
All sections managed to celebrate the centenary of scouting in the Summer of 2007, the Cubs renewing their promise on top of Rivington Pike, The Scouts along with Scouts from other countries at a camp in the Netherlands, and the Explorers travelling around Austria.

In September 2008, the new Headmaster, Philip Britton, took over the mantle of Group President. Philip comes with a proven track record of Scouting from his role as Scout Leader at Leeds Grammar School and is keen to help the Group develop a greater profile within the life of the School.

John Greenhalgh
Group Scout Leader.