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Kidderminster & District Scouts

Everyone knows that in 1907 Sir Robert Baden Powell founded “The Scouts” when he held a camp for 20 Boys on Brownsea Island.

In Kidderminster the first actual recorded meeting of Scouts was on the 16th December 1908 “ there were 3 boys and 1 Scout Master, they met in Church Street and called themselves the “Cuckoo Patrol”.

The Shuttle reported in July 1909 that a meeting was held in the town hall of gentlemen interested in the Boy Scout Movement in Kidderminster & a strong committee was formed.

In March 1910 a “Great Display” was put on in the New Meeting Hall, the theme was “How Scouts Help Others”.

The first church parade took place in April 1910 the parade marched from Proud Cross to St John’s Church where the Reverend W. Yerburgh, Chaplain to St John’s Troop, preached the sermon.

In January 1911 another meeting was held, chaired by the Mayor – Councillor J. Johnson, among the people attending were the Hon. Mary Pakington, Mr Cecil Brinton, Lord Hampton, H.M. Thursfield & Rev. L.B. Sladen. Mr G.K. Mallory reported that there were now 15 Troops and over 400 boys in the District.

On May 6th 1911 the Chief Scout, General Sir Robert Baden Powell, visited the town to inspect the Scouts in Brinton’s Park, the main streets were decorated in his honour and almost the entire population turned out to welcome him. The Mayor and his Corporation, fully robed, walked from the Town Hall to the Park to give an official welcome, the Regimental Band of the Territorials played and 6,000 people were there to welcome him.

War was declared on August 4th 1914 and many Scout Masters went to serve with the Forces. Under the direction of the District Commissioner, Mr R.H. Krause, it was agreed to place all Scouts under the Civil Authorities to aid the war efforts. Sadly many of the Scout Masters did not return, this was a very difficult time for Scouting in Kidderminster & it took a long time for Scouting to recover from the war.

In 1927 Captain A.R. Bache was District Commissioner for the Wyre Forest area and it was reported that there was only 1 Troop in Kidderminster, KD1 St Mary’s, however the following Troops had also started KD5 Hartlebury, KD16 Stourport, 2nd Stourport & 1st Bewdley Baptists, the total membership was 172.

By January 1929 another 4 Troops had started these were KD7 Cookley, 1st Wilden, 2nd Bewdley & KD10 and the total membership had increased to 270.

1939 saw preparations being made for war and Scouts locally being asked to help with ARP duties.

In November 1945 Major Harcourt-Webb agreed to the use of Rhydd Covert as a training ground for Leaders in the District.

By 1948 Scouting had begun to flourish again following the war. During this year, to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Scouting, Mrs Nevill Broome gave a gift of a plot of land in Castle Rd to the Scouts. Due to complications of the plot being adjacent to the River Stour, this was later changed, by arrangement with the Borough Council, for the eventual site in New Rd.

In 1952 sadly John Stretton, a local surgeon, who had been the District Commissioner for 12 years collapsed and died, he was replaced by Charles Hails a dentist who had a practice in Church Street.

Coronation year saw the Scouts involved in the lighting of beacons at Hartlebury, Stagborough and Brinton’s Park as part of the “National Chain of Beacons”.

In December 1955 there was a “red letter day” for local Scouts & Guides when Cllr. Tatton Brinton ceremoniously laid the foundation stone to the John Stretton Memorial Hall on the plot of land in New Rd, the building was officially opened in October 1956. The cost of the building was £6,924 of which £5,760 had been subscribed.

Early in 1959 the first of a series of Gang Shows was presented at the Playhouse Theatre on Comberton Hill. The shows continued on a regular basis until 1968 and shortly after the Playhouse closed to make room for the ring road.

Around this time Charles Hails died & Jim Brighton took his place as District Commissioner. In 1969 another great friend of Kidderminster Scouts, Major Harcourt-Webb, died. His executors, knowing his wishes, allowed the Scouts the continued use of Rhydd Covert as a camping site.

The Pledged Plod, a sponsored walk, which was the brainchild of Brian Wood, began in 1970, it has run annually ever since and during this time has raised thousands of pounds for local Scouting & Guiding.

The highlight of 1973 was a visit to Rhydd Covert by the Chief Scout, Sir William Gladstone.

1976 was another important year for local Scouts as the executors of the will of the late Major Harcourt-Webb decided to give Rhydd Covert Campsite to Kidderminster District.

Scouting has continued to flourish in the area, with 12 Scout Groups throughout Kidderminster & District.

More recently, in 2004 after a fire destroyed the Scout Building at Rhydd Covert the Kidderminster Shuttle launched “Operation Covert”, an appeal to raise £80,000 towards building a new “Activity Centre” at the campsite. At around the same time the John Stretton Hall in New Rd was sold and £60,000 of the proceeds were also put towards the cost of building the new centre. Local MP – Dr Richard Taylor opened the new facility in summer 2006.

Many thanks to Ann Denton for the above.

 


 
Kidderminster & District Scouts
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