Town’s heritage

1st Christchurch (Town) Registration Number 3414

It is not possible to give an exact date when the Group started because no records have survived but from information handed down by past members, it is believed the early registration number was 57. The Group probably opened in 1908 or 1909 at the latest. Stories handed down tell us that soon after the publication of Baden-Powell’s “Scouting for Boys” three young brothers, Bert, Sidney and Tom Loveless decided they wanted to be Scouts, so co-opting their sister Alice, who apparently became an Assistant Scoutmaster and in 1923 was awarded the Medal of Merit, they formed the 1st Christchurch Troop. An early memory passed down by Mr Whitlock, a Scout in 1911, was of the visit of Baden-Powell to Christchurch that year, when he vividly remembered playing the Mafeking March on the Town Hall piano.

An early photograph of Boy Scouts Troops I & II taken in Christchurch on 19th March 1911

The Troop’s first headquarters was behind the old Post Office in the High Street (now the Portman Building Society) and this served them until the early 1920’s when the then Scoutmaster, Mr Hurd, obtained an ex-army hut that was installed in a field behind the old Town Hall (where Saxon Square and the car park are now situated). Here the Group stayed until 1965 when the same hut was moved to a site behind the District Headquarters (previously the Christchurch Youth Club) opposite the “New Inn” in Fairmile. In 1969 the old hut was demolished and a new Headquarters was built on the same site. A pre-fabricated bungalow was re-erected adjoining the new building and a new toilet block was added. Later a caravan was donated and used as a Venture Scout Unit project room.

One special memory of the Town Troop is of them proudly wearing the old broad brimmed Scout hats for as long as possible, only discarding them for berets when they were forced to change by the introduction of the new look in Scouting, following the Chief Scout’s Advance Party Report in 1967.

On the 1st December 1979 the Cornwell Scout Badge was awarded to Stewart Cameron, a Venture Scout who had grown up through the Group starting as a Cub Scout when he was 8 years old. Stewart was presented to the Chief Scout when he attended the Group’s 75th birthday party, held at Pontins Holiday Camp in 1983. Sadly Stewart died soon afterwards. A trophy, The Stewart Cameron Cup, donated by his parents is awarded each year to a member of the Group who has made “The Best and Bravest Effort”. The “John Furnell Shield” also named after a Scout who died suddenly while still in the Group, is presented annually to “The best all round Scout” and “The Tommy and Rikki Jeans Trophy” goes to the Cub six for “The best achievement”.

Over the years the Town Group have had Rover Scouts, Senior Scouts then after 1967 Venture Scouts and, more recently, a Beaver Colony was formed in June 1986. Eight of the Town Scouts gave their lives in the two World Wars.