A Brief History of the 2nd Southampton Over 70 Years
Written by Duncan Eaton in 1981
Research by D. R. Griffiths
To Alf Longhurst and all past and present members of the Group.
With an unbroken history spanning more than seven decades, the 2nd. Southampton Scout Group can truly be described as second to none.
It is a proud and distinguished history – unrivalled by any other city troop – which goes back to nearly as far as Baden Powell’s first historic camp on Brownsea Island.
Still in the group’s treasure chest of scouting memories are reminders of BP – the great man’s walking stick, an Ashanti chief’s stool, which be brought back from his travels, a back scratcher and a letter carved on a single log.
Whether in peace or war time the name of the Second has never been far away from the front line.
And from it’s ranks it has produced many distinguished “old boys”. Among them doctors, barristers, including a QC, journalist, servicemen and a vicar, who works in the tough East End of London.
In it’s 70 plus years the 2nd. Southampton has had three former names – the 2nd. Hampton, the 2nd. (St Pauls) and 2nd. Freemantle.
When it was formed in 1908 by Mr. G. Rickman it was known as the 2nd. Hampton.
It is thought that it got this name from the fact that Captain Arthur Barter, who at the time was one of the assistant scout masters, used to live in Hamilton House, Commercial Road, Southampton.
So Hampton may have come from part of the word Hamilton or the tail end of Southampton.
When the group was launched there must have been a huge demand for scouting. For in a census of February 1909 the 2nd’s strength stood at 130 scouts, including one King Scout, one scoutmaster and two assistant scoutmasters.
Today the Second has mushroomed into two cub packs, two scout troops and 24 leaders, backed up with the support of an active parents committee.
The 2nd. Hampton later changed it’s name to the 2nd. St. Pauls. It was among 14 troops that helped to pioneer the scouting movement in the city which led in 1909 to the formation of the Southampton Boy Scout Association.
The 2nd. still has in its archives the troop’s registration form, dated February 17th 1909, and giving the scoutmaster’s name as Mr. Arthur Barter.
He took over from Mr. Rickman, who resigned as scout master but asked to stay on the committee of scouters.
So it was that Captain Arthur Barter of the Church Army took over at the helm.
In 1910 colours and badges were presented to the 2nd. Southampton (St. Paula) Troop and this memorable occasion coincided with the official visit to the city of famous war leader Lord Kitchener.
That was 70 years ago. Since then many scouts have come and gone. But the 2nd’s two wheeled trek cart is still on the group’s strength.
Registered in 1910 the ancient Springbok Boy Scout Trek Cart must be one of the few of it’s kind in existence.
Built by the South London Wheel and Truck Jorks it cost the princely sum of -2,3. 17 shillings. But today it is still worth it’s weight in gold.
The faithful cart has been wheeled around the streets in three Southampton Carnivals.
The veteran vehicle has carried camp gear, sometimes as far as Dorset.
It has also taken part in trek cart races and various competitions. Despite it’s vintage it has always proved a fair match for it’s more up to date counterparts.
Although it is almost as old as the 2nd. Southampton Group, the trusty ‘Springbok’ has covered thousands of miles on flinty unmade roads but has never given so much as a creak of protest.
Scouting came very much into the public eye during the 1914 – 1918 war and scouts followed their ‘Be Prepared’ motto to the letter.
No more so than the 2nd. Southampton, who were soon in the thick of the action when the First World war hostilities broke out.
The troop was in camp at Winchester in August 1914 when war was declared.
And the scoutmaster of the time was called upon to carry out his duties with the British Red Cross, who were receiving wounded Belgian soldiers.
According to the records the scoutmaster did not want to ‘leave the scouts in a hole’. After communicating with the authorities he was told to bring his scouts with him. So the 2nd’s summer camp was really put on a war footing:
This he did and the rest of the camp was spent on the Southampton dock side where the boys were kept busy acting as messengers and bandage rollers.
Later in the war, the hospital ship “Brittonic” was due to sail and was short of crew members.
Some of the older boys of the 2nd. volunteered… they did not have to be press ganged. Sadly, on that voyage the “Britannnic” was torpedoed while she was in the Mediterranean.
The scouts also took part in Air Raid Patrols, they had to report to the police when a raid was in the offing. They sounded the all clear on bugles when the danger was past.
After the war there was a spate of victory parades with scouts marching behind the 2nd’s own Fife and Drum band. The group no longer has a band but there are still fascinating photographic memories of the old one.
The 2nd. Freemantle Scout Group, as it was known then, sadly lost many scouts and leaders, killed fighting for their country. A roll of honour, recording the death toll, still exists.
In the Second World War the evacuation depleted the group’s ranks but those who stayed behind played an active part in the war effort.
The Second Southampton maintained a seven day a week messenger service for the docks, serving embarkation staff and later the Royal Navy.
The Scouts also took part in civil defence duties and in salvage campaigns, collecting paper, bottles and jam jars.
As well as it’s war heroes the 2nd. also had it’s modern day ones. Cornwall Medals – the highest scouting accolade for bravery – went to Cub Scouts Trevor Sacre and the late David Hatchard who tragically died of an incurable disease.
Medal merits were also awarded to two former leaders – the late Arthur Dawkins, one of the pioneers of scouting in Southampton, the late hr. H. Boyd-Wallis, and more recently to the present Group Scout Leader, Alf Longhurst
The 2nd. has had in it’s 70 years history three group scout leaders – Mr. Arthur Dawkins, Mr. George Batchelor and Mr. Alf Longhurst, a stalwart of the group who has been connected with the Second since the mid forties.
Today the home of the 2nd. Southampton is a fine modern headquarters in Ridding Close, on the edge of ‘ the sprawling Shirley housing estate.
But in the past the group’s headquarters have been far from luxurious.
It appears that the group started life in a church hall in London Road opposite St. Paul’s Church. But they had to move on when the scoutmaster of the day had a disagreement with the Vicar!
Freemantle Church Hall was one of the 2nd’s early homes and for a time they operated from an old bakery at the bottom of Stratton Road.
They then moved to a ramblin shack in Vaudrey Street, near the old Brown and Harrison Dairy.
I remember that it was from this building that as a shiny faced wolf cub – there is no such animal now – I took my first tentative steps into the world of scouting.
Being polite the building was a rickety old place which many moons ago passed as a builders shop. One scout leader pulled no punches when he said in no uncertain manner that the conditions were ‘shocking’.
He said: “In the winter we cannot get down to serious work because we have to have the lads running around to keep warm”.
Although there was little in the kitty an earnest fund raising campaign got underway for a new headquarters.
And when the Arthur Dawkins Hall opened in 1957 it was the result of five years of planning, saving and building.
It was officially launched by the county commissioner of the time Admiral Sir Vaughan Morgan.
The ceremony was carried out in driving rain but as the scouts and their leaders surveyed their new home the five years of struggling for the plot and building, the bill of £1,650 seemed all very worthwhile.
Like the group the building has also spread it’s wings, and the most recent extension was in 1977.
It is well worth recalling the words of the admiral on that historic opening day.
He said: “Don’t let that spirit which carried you on fade”.
That was more than 20 years ago. Now in the eighties the spirit and fire of the Second still burns brightly.
The Chief Librarian, Southern Evening Echo, 45, Above Bar, Southampton., The Archivest, Miss Thompson, Civic Centre, Southampton,
Mr. Graham Coombes, Baden Powell House, Queens Gate, London, SW7 5JS
Mr. Alf Longhurst, 63, Sturminster House, Irving Road, Maybush, Southampton.
Duncan and myself are very grateful to Alf for all the help he has been able to give to us in the preparation of this book. He has been able to recall a lot of the events himself, through personal recognition with the group since the the year of 1945.
Let us hope that the 2nd Southampton are still around to celebrate their centenary birthday in the near future.