We travelled in a furniture van with the doors open, waving to cars behind
THE idea of creating a Scout group for the then village of Chaddesden was first suggested by Constance Wilmot, of Chaddesden Hall.
She had been so impressed by Scout movement founder Sir Robert Baden Powell's ideas that she persuaded the local vicar, the Rev Allis-Smith, to start a troop.
It was 1912, a significant date in Scouting history as this was the year in which a royal charter was granted to Baden Powell's movement, creating the official title Boy Scouts Association.
A Century of Scouting, edited by former troop member Neil Johnson, who now lives in Scotland, gives a fascinating insight into the group's history from those early years when Mr Allis-Smith, vicar of St Mary's Church, became the first Scoutmaster of the 27th Derby (Chaddesden) Scout Group.
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Using and adding to material researched and gathered during the early 1970s by the late group Scout leader Gerry Bentley for a publication marking its diamond jubilee, the book is a comprehensive guide to the last 100 years of Scouting in the village. It tells how the first meetings, attended by about 45 boys, were held in a room in the vicarage before Miss Wilmot allowed the troop to meet in a hut facing Church Lane, free of charge.
When the estate was sold in 1919, the troop was forced to find a new home and was given permission to put up a Nissen hut on land owned by farmer Mr Walley in Meadow Lane. When the land was sold and divided into building plots in 1924, the group had amassed sufficient funds to buy half an acre of land the following year.
Fund-raising activities followed for the construction of a permanent brick headquarters, which was completed in 1932. The Rev Allis-Smith, by then vicar of Bradbourne, returned to the village to perform the opening ceremony.
As well as its chronological guide to the troop's history, which includes sections on competitions, cups, medals, the international jamboree and the ever-popular gang shows, the book takes a closer look at the group's camping history.
Included in this section is a collection of memories of camps from 1954 to 1996 compiled by group Scout leader Bob Rogerson. He takes us back to his first camping experience – a county rally at Chatsworth in 1954 when he was 12.
He writes: "We travelled there on the Friday evening in a furniture van with all the kit and the Scouts in the back, with the doors open, creating a real sense of comradeship as we chatted and waved to following cars, offering them the end of a rope for a tow."
The book concludes with a number of personal recollections by those who have been involved in the group over the years including former Scouts, instructors, committee members and leaders.
Mr Johnson, whose own links to the group go back to the winter of 1964 to 1965 when he joined from his previous troop in Northumberland, recalled: "My first impressions of the blank stares concentrating on my foreign-sounding speech were the lovely navy-coloured shirts they all wore, which reminded me of the Cullercoats troops near my previous home. By contrast, I was clad in the dull khaki of the 19th Whitley Bay but at least I was able to sport a green and yellow necker.
"It didn't take me long to make the welcome transition to the 27th and, by the spring, I was on my first new patrol camp near Egginton, where Rich Mortimer persuaded me to put salt in John Pye's evening cuppa.
"Considering John and I are still close friends nearly five decades on, I presume he has forgiven me for assaulting his youthful taste buds."
Many photographs are included, along with a selection of other memorabilia.
A Century of Scouting, priced £5, plus £2 postage, is available from Mike Biggs, 9 Stanley Close, Derby. Call Derby 367487.