The History of
7th Banbury Scout Group.
A few memories from the beginning of 7th Banbury's life as a group, written by Trevor Parry:
I can’t think why I, a lifelong member and supporter of 2nd Banbury (Methodist) Scout Group, should be writing about the early days of 7th Banbury. Could it be a form of penance? Or could it be that I have been around so long I am one of the few people left who, not only was alive when the Group was formed, but can remember those far away days? I think the latter rather than the former.
2nd Banbury was formed shortly after the end of the Second World War in November 1946 by Harold Hobbs. Harold had been a Scout and Rover Scout before the war and decided on his return to his native Banbury to start a Boy Scout Troop at Marlborough Road Methodist Church where he was a member. A Scout Troop was first to be formed and the Scoutmaster was Ben Wilson, a dispensing chemist. By late 1947 a Wolf Cub pack had been started and Harold became Group Scoutmaster.
Ben took the Troop to camp in the summer of 1947 at Penrhyn Bay near Llandudno in Wales.
Sometime after the camp Ben decided that he would like to run his own Scout Group and so in late 1947 he began to recruit members for 7th Banbury. The first Troop meeting was held in the front room of 16 Boxhedge Road on the opposite side of the road to the Neithrop Methodist Chapel (Mold’s Mission). The Troop quickly expanded and soon had to move premises so they rented the hall of the Unitarian Church in Horse Fair which was approached by a broad passageway between the Whately Hall Hotel and another building. The Baptist Church (The Peoples Church) now stands on the site of the Unitarian Church hall.
The troop’s first summer camp was held (You’ll never guess) at Penrhyn Bay.
A Wolf Cub pack was quickly added and two fathers soon volunteered to help with the running of the Troop leaving Ben to run the Group as Group Scoutmaster. The two fathers were Reg Thomas and Ted Davidson. Unfortunately Ben’s (Ben’s eldest son told me a few years ago that his father was not called Ben but another name which I can’t remember. But to me he will always be “Ben”.) work meant that he had to leave Banbury. This left Reg and Ted “In charge.” They did not see eye to eye and Ted left to start 1st Bodicote Scout Group leaving Reg to run the Group. It was not long before another move of headquarters happened. This time to a room above the Royal Berks Mineral Water Company which was situated in a yard off North Bar somewhere near the present day traffic lights on the right hand side travelling north. This didn't last long and soon they moved to first floor rooms in the yard at the rear of the Jolly Weavers public house. This was to be their headquarters for many years and during that time Reg managed to buy a plot of land in School Lane, Southam Road to build their own headquarters. At the time this was quite a revolutionary decision but one which with hindsight was brilliant. It is due to Reg’s vision, his fund raising efforts, a great degree of dedication and vast amounts of time that you now have what is, without doubt, the best Scout Headquarters in Oxfordshire.
As you can imagine in the early days there was a great deal of rivalry between 2nd Banbury and 7th Banbury and in due course 1st Bodicote they all having their origins in the decision by Harold Hobbs to start a Boy Scout Troop. In the late fifties early sixties these three Groups represented over 80% of the District’s membership.
In the early days there was only one District competition for Troops. This was the District Flag completion which was a patrol camping competition over a twenty four hour period; from 2.pm on Saturday until 2pm on Sunday. The competition was held in Broughton Park (the District Commissioner’s back yard!) and was judged by judges from outside the District. I can remember entering the competition along with a patrol from 7th, not with the aim of winning it, but of coming second because without a doubt the premier Troop in the District was the Grammar School Troop, 3rd Banbury run by Tec Railton, senior master at the school and Assistant District Commissioner. How could we win?
Fortunately- or should I say unfortunately- 3rd Banbury’s fortunes quickly diminished and this left the field open to 2nd and 7th. The competition was intense. I remember one year 7th winning. 2nd were not gracious losers. Why? Well the week before 7th had camped at Broughton on their usual site at the back of the Park close to its southern boundary and we believed, with no evidence whatsoever to back it up, that they had spent the entire weekend building camp gadgets and at the close of camp hiding them in the nearby woods. Now would Scouts do such a thing? Surely not.
The winners of the District Flag then went on to represent the District in the County Pennant camping competition. Both 2nd and 7th in their turn won the County Competition and there are photographs in my book showing the District Flag and the County Pennant proudly displayed on the Christmas Party Group Photographs.
Copyright September 2013
For more details about the early days of Scouting in Banbury, a copy of Trevor's book, "Scouting for Banbury's Boys" can be borrowed from our HQ.