SCOUTING IN CAPEL - THE FIRST 40 YEARS
by Don Foreman
Paddock Wood had a Scout Troop since at least 1912, and it was there the boys of Five Oak Green initially met to enjoy what Robert Baden-Powell, who founded the Movement, called "The Great Game of Scouting."
One of those boys was Jesse Turner, known to his friends as 'Bob', who lived in Tully's Cottages in Whetsted Road. He tragically lost his life at the age of 12 in September 1932 in a drowning accident, and was borne to his grave at Capel Church by fellow Scouts from Paddock Wood.
The Group is founded in Tudeley
We don't know the exact date, but the 1st Tudeley (All Saints) Scout Group, led by Scout Master G. W. Faircloth and R. Lawson, was formed in January 1936, and met every Thursday evening at Goldsmid Hall from 7.30 - 9.15. As the Courier of 3rd April 1936 reported, the boys achieved early success as they challenged and successfully beat the 2nd Tonbridge (Parish Church) Scouts in a flag raiding event. The local newspaper even recorded that the monthly Patrol competition was won by the Hawks with 118 points, followed by the Owls with 112 and the Kingfishers with 101.
Above: Capel Scouts in Scout Camp 1938
Success in the District Camp
Further success came at the District Camp, which was reported in such fascinating detail in the Courier of 5th June 1936 that it deserves to be included here. It also illustrates how journalism has changed over the past 80 years, and many will regret that worthwhile activities such as Scouting are rarely mentioned now, and certainly not at such length.
"Between 70 and 80 Boy Scouts were in camp at the Old Cricket Ground, Tudeley, over the holidays. They were from Troops in the Tonbridge District Scouts' Association and this was the second annual Whitsun Camp.
Camping is second nature to Scouts and they certainly know how to enjoy themselves and at the same time make it as profitable in experience as possible. But this camp is something out of the ordinary. It is not held for the purpose of giving the boys camp training - they get that at their weekly meetings and at their own troop camps. The primary object is to bring the Groups belonging to the Association closer together with a view to furthering that friendly interest in each other and so that the boys, in addition to the officers, might know one another personally. Secondly, advantage is taken of the fact that all the Groups are together and the various tests and sports are held.
The camp last year was a great success and, judging by the happy faces the writer saw on a visit to the camp, this year's, despite the somewhat unsettled weather, was just as enjoyable. There is little doubt that the organisers' object meets with the success it deserves. Even in the competitions and sports the spirit of comradeship was very evident. From the leaders to the newest joined recruit, there was that same spirit.
The field in which the camp was held proved ideal for the occasion and was kindly lent by Sir Osmond d'Avigdor Goldsmid and Mr. Tibbits, the tenant farmer. The Camp Chief was Group Scoutmaster F. Carden, of Hadlow, who was assisted by the Assistant District Commissioner, the Rev. C. Ough.
The camp was officially opened on Saturday afternoon, but several of the Troops, so keen were they on getting the most out of a camping holiday, were under canvas by Friday night. The others moved in during Saturday. Troops represented were the 1st and 2nd Tonbridge, Hadlow, Tudeley and Paddock Wood. Sunday commenced with a 'Scouts' Own' service at which the Scouters officiated, and later District Commissioner H. Russell visited the camp and made an official inspection. In the afternoon the boys carried out a journey test, while the Scouters discussed the programme on Monday.
Monday morning was a busy time for everyone, and perhaps an anxious one, for the camp inspection and general Scout tests for the trophy, which is awarded annually, were carried out. During the morning the Cub Packs attached to the various Troops arrived as guests, and no doubt eyed with envious admiration the fine time that the elder brethren were having and wishing the years would hurry on so that they, too, would become fully-fledged Scouts and be able to attend these splendid camps.
The sports were held in the afternoon and a large number of parents and friends were present. They took advantage of the occasion to inspect the camp and they were able to judge for themselves that their boys were receiving a fine training, and that by belonging to the Scouts were learning not only how to fend for themselves, but how to lend a willing and helping hand to any in need. Following the presentation of the trophies and certificates won at the sports, camp was struck and another holiday was over.
During Monday afternoon Sir Osmond Goldsmid visited the camp, and after the Scouts had rallied round the flagstaff and the Cubs had performed the Grand Howl and a jungle dance in his honour, Sir Osmond gave a brief address. At the end of the afternoon Major Wilcox, the Chairman of the Association, presented the trophies and then called for a round of cheers for all who had helped to make the camp a success. The flag was then lowered and the Camp Chief declared the camp at an end.
The cup for Scout work was won by Tudeley, a particularly creditable performance as the Troop has been in existence only for a few months. Points were: Tudeley 16.5, 1st Tonbridge 15.5, Paddock Wood 8, 2nd Tonbridge 9, and Hadlow 6."
(Tudeley did not do as well in the sports except for Scout Osborne who won the under-fourteen 100 yards).
Hospital Sunday Parades
In the days before the National Health Service hospitals were dependent on donations, bequests and charity for funding. In common with many other towns and villages, one such fundraising event, organised by the Capel Hospital Committee, was an annual parade which was a feature of parish life for decades. It had already been established by 1895, was replaced by a house-to-house collection during the First World War, and was then resumed until the last was held in August 1939.
Capel parade included bands, Friendly Society banners and representatives from
various organisations and usually assembled at Stonecastle Farm, Whetsted,
processing through the parish to a service either at the War Memorial Cottages
or Tudeley Church, concluding with tea at Goldsmid Hall.
Scouts participated for the first time in August 1936, "with decorated lorry."
A photograph shows the lorry, which belonged to Messrs. G.& P. Delves,
carrying a number of standing Scouts dressed in a variety of costumes, one
wearing a fez, another having a blacked-up face and yet another looking like
what would then be called a 'Red Indian'. One can only assume the theme of the
float was 'Scouts of the Empire'.
In 1938 it appears they marched, but the Guides "presented a tableau."
What was to be the last Hospital Sunday Parade, on August 13th 1939, was reported in detail in The Courier, and reveals both the part the Scout and Guide organisations played in the life of the parish, and that the Scouts had a new leader.
"The Capel Hospital Committee held their annual hospital parade on Sunday. The parade marshalled at Stone Castle Farm and proceeded to the playing field at Five Oak Green, where the Rev. H. Capel conducted the service. The Paddock Wood Band had previously played at Sychem Lane and the Alders and Colts Hill districts. The parade had not been held in these districts before, and the Committee thought it advisable to try as there is an increased number of residents living here. After the service the parade re-formed and proceeded to Tudeley, and at the War Memorial the "Last Post" and "Reveille" were sounded. Tea was provided at the Goldsmid Hall for those in the parade. Those who took part were the Tudeley Troop of Boy Scouts under Mr. F. Bridges; Goudhurst Troop, under Commissioner Prickett, and their band, under Drum-Major A. J. Maitland; Paddock Wood Silver Band, under Mr. J. Cheesman; the Capel British Legion Drum and Fife Band, under Mr. H. Joyce; members of the Capel, Paddock Wood and Yalding branches of the British Legion, with their standards; Capel Girl Guides, under Miss Burton, with a tableau and standard; and a "Keep Fit" tableau by the Tudeley Wolf Cubs."
To return to 1936, in November the Scouts had a successful dance at the Goldsmid Hall, and thanked all those who sold tickets, Mrs. Dolding & Mrs. Catt for helping with the refreshments and Mr. S. Portlock for acting as M.C.
At December's church parade the new Group Flag was dedicated by the Vicar, the Rev. Harry Capel. That Christmas the Boy Scouts (as they were known in those days) did their good deed by distributing a number of Christmas hampers provided by the Troop members.
The 1st Tudeley celebrated their first anniversary in February 1937 with a social evening at Goldsmid Hall at which they entertained parents and friends with "many amusing items . . . and songs round a camp fire." The Courier published a report and photograph of the event, with the camping cup won in the previous summer proudly displayed literally 'centre stage'.
Scout Master George Faircloth appealed to the parents to form a Parents' Committee to help the success of the Troop.
Above: 1st Tudeley celebrate their 1st Anniversary in 1937
Scout Master marries local girl
In July George Faircloth was married at All Saints' Church to Miss Eileen Bridges, of Tudeley Church Farm. The boys of the Scout Troop presented the couple with silver fruit and nut baskets, and as bride and groom left the church they walked under an arch of staves, then part of every Scout's equipment, held by boys in uniform, including the pointed 'Mountie' hat made famous by Baden-Powell. Unfortunately the newspaper photograph of the event is much too grainy to be reproduced.
Miss Bridges had already taken part in a Scout activity, perhaps organised by the Parents' Committee for which her fiance appealed, when she presented prizes in a Whist Drive held in the Goldsmid Hall at the end of January. Mr. Charles Edwards, Five Oak Green's grocer and a great supporter of the Scout Group for many years, was M.C.
Whitsun Camp postponed
The annual Whitsun Camp for the District had to be postponed in 1937 owing to bad weather and was held at the end of July on the Old Cricket Field, Tudeley. Numbers were lower than usual owing to holidays, only about 50 Scouts of all ranks being in camp, Tudeley Scouts among them. The Courier told readers that "The camp was declared open on Saturday afternoon, and in the evening a camp-fire was held. On Sunday morning the District Commissioner inspected the camp. In the afternoon a Scout's Own service was held, followed by a treasure hunt. On Monday morning the Cubs arrived. After dinner the rally was held, and the Cubs gave us their Grand Howl, and then a jungle dance among the trees. Sports for Cubs followed, and the camp flag was lowered at 6 p.m., after a party of Guides had visited the camp and assisted in striking the tents."
In October 1937 Tudeley Scouts took part in a parade at St. Andrew's Church in Paddock Wood at which the town's Troop laid up its old flag and saw a new one dedicated. The newspaper report says the address was given by the Rev. J. R. Hale, Vicar of Tudeley, but Harry Capel was Vicar at the time! The Scouts were afterwards entertained to tea at the Masonic Hall by friends of the Paddock Wood Troop.
By January 1938 a Rover Crew, for young adult Scouts, must have been formed in Tudeley as that month its members attended the Rovers' Tonbridge and district annual dinner at the Carlton Cafe, Tonbridge. Meanwhile, the Scouts entertained 27 "poor children" of Tudeley and Capel in the Goldsmid Hall.
Next month there was a fund-raising Whist Drive in aid of the Scout Troop at the Bridge Hall, Five Oak Green, with Charles Edwards again acting as M.C. Familiar names among the winners include Tully, Jenner, Gallivan, Powley and Dolding. On the following evening the Troop entertained parents and friends in the Goldsmid Hall. Several Scouts received awards and Scoutmaster Faircloth presented a Thanks Badge to Miss G. Dolding "for her untiring work on behalf of the Troop."
In April boys from the 1st Tudeley were among the 2000 Scouts from all parts of Kent who took part in the St. George's Day Parade and service at Canterbury Cathedral.
Ideal weather favoured 1938's Whitsun Camp in Tudeley, held on his estate by kind permission of Sir Osmond d'Avigdor Goldsmid. Boys from across the Tonbridge District spent a happy time in routine camp work, sports and organised games.
An undated letter from Dave Passey published many years later in the Courier is accompanied by a grainy photograph of Tudeley Rover Scouts and Scouts in camp at Studland, Dorset, some time during 1938. It appears the 1st Leigh Group, knowing that the relatively newly-formed 1st Tudeley lacked funds to buy the necessary equipment, invited the Tudeley lads to join them. Among the campers were Ray Collins, Claude Osborne, Ron Jenner, Ernie Ellis and Jack Passey.
Scouts and Guides entertain parents
Amateur dramatics formed a part of the Scouting programme, and provided an opportunity for the boys and girls to entertain their parents and friends. In March 1939 the Scouts and Guides gave an entertainment in the Goldsmid Hall which included a tableau entitled "The Queen of Dreams." The staging of tableaux was a once popular but now forgotten art, consisting of the participants garbed in appropriate costume presenting a static display depicting an event or story.
As already mentioned the Scouts and Guides participated in the August Hospital Sunday Parade.
The coming of war did not completely curtail activities, which demonstrates that the Scout Group not only benefited the boys but provided a welcome opportunity for older residents to socialise in those pre-television days. The energetic Mr. Edwards was M.C. at a Scout Group Whist Drive held at the Bridge Hall in March 1940 at which Mrs. A. Wickens presented the prizes.
Presumably Scouts and Guides continued to meet during the war, and no doubt there were occasional social events, but restrictions on the paper supply reduced the number of newspaper pages and such activities were not reported.
A tragic death
The next reference to Scouting in the parish came in September 1945 and conveyed the sad news that 13-year-old Kenneth Roy Dolding had died in the Cottage Hospital after a short illness. His father, Mr. A. Dolding, was caretaker of the Goldsmid Hall. Kenneth's funeral service and burial was at All Saints, at which, as the Courier recorded, "Tudeley Boy Scouts (under Scoutmaster W. Hoath) were present."
Group becomes '1st Capel'.
At some time during those post-war years the name and number of the Group changed, as a Courier report of January 1947 refers to Wolf Cubs of the 1st Capel holding a successful social at the Bridge Hall. Cubs of the 4th Tonbridge were invited, and each boy brought a guest for the evening. An excellent tea was provided by friends of the Pack, and games were played. The organiser was Cub Mistress Miss M. Chapman.
It seems that the new name was the 1st Capel (9th Tonbridge) Scout Group, but sometimes the two elements '1st Capel' and '9th Tonbridge' were reversed.
The annual District Whitsun Camp resumed after the war, and in May 1947 it was attended by 176 Scouts and Scouters, including the 9th Tonbridge (Capel), with 100 Cubs from 8 Packs joining them on the Monday, which was sports' day. Capel's Cubs won the 3 legged race, and the Scouts were victorious in the 'horse and rider', 'patrol' and 'schooner' races. There was an 'undressing race' for the Cubs, and whatever that involved one can't imagine a children's race being given that name nowadays.
A Courier item of 1st August 1947 reported that the 1st Capel had played East Peckham in a friendly cricket match and won by 103 runs to 40. Later in the month Scout Master F. Bridges said the Scouts had "a wonderful week" when they returned from seven days camping at Dymchurch.
Mr. G. Delves and friends raised £18 "for the Boy Scouts Troop" at a Whist Drive in October 1947.
The Scouts are given a trek cart
The Group was in the news again, when the Courier of 23rd January 1948 reported -
"CAPEL SCOUTS REALISE AMBITION.
For many months the ambition of the 1st Capel Group (9th Tonbridge) Boy Scouts has been to possess a trek cart. On the evening of Friday 16th January 1948, at the Scout Hut, Capel, as a culmination of the efforts of the British Legion, and especially their vice-chairman, Mr. Isaac Ellis, the Scouts were presented with a trek cart by the chairman, Mr. H. J. L. Harris, on behalf of the Legion's Capel Branch. The Scoutmaster, Mr. Frederick Bridges, thanking them for their gift, assured them of the good use to which the cart would be put, and said it would be shown everywhere as a gift from the British Legion."
A fuzzy photograph in the Courier shows the splendidly sign-written trek cart, proudly bearing the name '1st Capel & 9th Tonbridge' on the side panels, surrounded by dozens of Scouts, Cubs, Leaders and supporters.
Capel's Scouts took part in the 1948 District St. George's Day Parade along Tonbridge High Street to a service at the Parish Church, but this was not an opportunity to display their new trek cart.
Capel Cubs and Scouts among winners at Camp
1948's Whitsun Camp, attended by representatives of every Troop in the Tonbridge District, was held at Whitbread's, Beltring. The Scouts' events started on Saturday, and on the Monday 230 excited Cubs arrived to join them. As the Courier reported, "The culmination of the week-end was when the sports were run off on Monday afternoon. There were surprisingly few casualties, despite falls from stilts, and a few clashes when a blind folded chariot team crashed into the spectators." There were no health & safety rules in those days, and children were expected to tolerate occasional injuries!
It was a successful afternoon for the boys of Capel, as the Cubs won the boat race and were joint 2nd in the monkey race while the Scouts took 1st place in the three legged race and 1st and 2nd places in the Group relay. Derek Dolding, later to be Scout Master, came 3rd in the Senior Scouts' point-to-point.
Mr. C. J. Edwards presided at the Troop's annual meeting held at the Bridge Hall on 7th December 1948. The Scout Master, Frederick Bridges, who was George Faircloth's brother-in-law, paid tribute to the generosity of the local branch of the British Legion, which had presented the Troop with a trek cart, and Mrs. Pitman, who gave a prismatic compass. Officers elected were: President, Sir Harry Goldsmid; Chairman, Mr. C. Edwards; Secretary, Miss Piper; Treasurer, Mr. H. Veall; Committee, Mrs. Pitman, Mrs. R. Dolding, Messrs W. Passey, I. Ellis, R. Dolding, G. Delves and A. Wickens.
There was an Open Evening at the Bridge Hall in January 1949 when the Capel Troop of Boy Scouts entertained their parents and friends by showing their considerable skill in a display of Scout work and games. During the interval they served refreshments, too.
At December's annual meeting Scout Master Bridges reported on a successful year in which several certificates and the District Camping Cup had been won. It was decided to renew enquiries about the purchase of a Scout Hut.
1950's Open Evening followed the same pattern, but this time with the District Commissioner presenting the Camping Cup and showing a colour film on camping and other Scouting activities to the large audience. The event was organised by Scout Master Bridges and Cub Mistress Mrs. Passey. A Whist Drive in aid of Group funds was held in the Bridge Hall, with several familiar names among the winners.
Above: Capel Scouts in 1950
Scouts conduct footpath survey
Unlike nowadays, when most children are driven to school and find entertainment in front of a computer screen, in 1950 they walked everywhere and the whole parish was their playground; some even worked on the farms during the holidays. The usefulness of the Scouts and their knowledge of the area was recognised by the Parish Council at its meeting on 1st May 1950 when it resolved that "Local Scouts are to be asked to help in collecting material for the national footpaths and rights-of-way survey."
Capel Troop, led by 16 year old Senior Scout John Penn, attended the May 1951 District Whitsun Camp at Beltring and did exceptionally well to win the certificate for the best camp site which was reported in the Kent and Sussex Courier edition of 18th May as follows:
'Scouts coped with torrents and snakes
The use of stilts and other hand-made contraptions to cross shallow streams might seem unnecessary. But to local Boy Scouts who were imagining they were secret agents in Malaya and to whom the streams were flooded rivers and snake swamps, the stilts were very necessary. That and numerous other outdoor games were played by more than 180 Tonbridge and district Boy Scouts at their annual camp at Beltring over Whitsun. Competitions were held and the Capel troop, led by 16-year-old senior Scout John Penn of Five Oak Green, did exceptionally well to win the certificate for best camp site.'
In the early 1950s the Scouts and Cubs were meeting in a big hut, now demolished, standing in a field close to Capel School and opposite Tatlingbury Farm. During hop-picking it was taken over by nurses from the Little Hoppers Hospital, and for those few weeks the Scouts had to meet elsewhere. During the summer months they would go camping in a field behind Tudeley Church.
Above: Capel Scouts outside their hut opposite Tatlingbury Farm
1953 was an important year in the life of the nation for that June Queen Elizabeth II was crowned. Celebrations were held throughout the kingdom, and Five Oak Green was no exception. A Coronation Fete was held on the Recreation Ground, and the Scouts erected an aerial ride which was well patronised all afternoon. The celebrations were in part financed by a house to house collection, Scouts calling on residents to collect the envelopes.
The 1st Capel is revived
At some time in the early 1950s Frederick Bridges must have resigned as Scout Master, and it appears the Troop had fallen into the doldrums, as this report in the Courier headed "How Troop was revived" relates.
"The history of Scouting in Capel was told by Mr. C. Edwards, chairman of the village Scout committee, when the new Scout Hut in the village was dedicated on Friday 13th November, 1953. In 1946, he said, Maj.-Gen. F. Jenkins, who was then District Commissioner, 'discovered there was a place called Capel in his area.'
First, the Troop had been known as All Saints', Tudeley; then Tudeley, Tudeley-cum-Capel and finally Capel. The General cycled to the village and soon found the Scoutmaster, Derek Dolding, he said.
Then Maj.-Gen. Jenkins took up the story. 'Dickie Dolding was a boy when I came back from the Services. It was through his having kept the Troop going that we were able to revive it. I asked him if he had a committee, and when he said he hadn't we decided to form one and started discussing a chairman. There was only one man it could be - Mr. Edwards. When we called to see him he was in his bath, but he agreed to become the committee chairman.'
For some time, said Mr. Edwards, the committee had been considering a hut. Then they were offered the former village institute. The president, Sir Henry d'Avigdor Goldsmid, had had the outside redecorated for them so it was no longer an eyesore to the village. 'I cannot think of any more worthy use for it,' said Sir Henry. 'I think my father - who built it - would be delighted to know how well it is going to be used in the future.'
After the building had been dedicated by the Congregational Minister, the Rev. C. W. Carver, Scouts and Cubs demonstrated their work."
Three years after the Troop was re-formed one of its meetings saw three new members enrolled, taking its strength to 21, many of whom will have attended November's Remembrance Day Service at the Congregational Church.
'The Institute' becomes Group H.Q.
'The Institute', had been built by Mr. (later Sir) Osmond d'Avigdor Goldsmid of Somerhill for the working men of his estate and the parish generally. Opened in 1902, for many years it was used for a variety of meetings and social events before Sir Henry d'Avigdor Goldsmid, who held the honorary position as President of the 9th Tonbridge (1st Capel) allowed the Scout Group to adopt it as its headquarters, for which it was entirely suitable once a large billiard table had been removed. Although in consequence it became known as 'The Scout Hut', it was in fact a substantially constructed wood-framed building clad in corrugated iron which it appears required little attention for the first 50 years of its life. When, in 1960, Mr. A. R. Wickens repaired and repainted it, his charge was £9 3s. 6d., a fairly modest sum even then. This link with Five Oak Green's past was demolished in 2017 and a new house, named 'Baden House' with a thoughtful nod to the founder of the Scout Movement, Robert Baden-Powell, occupies the site.
Above: The Scout Hut ten years before its eventual demolition
In those days the Institute had electricity for lighting but was heated by the burning of coke and coal. Simmons Bros. of Capel Lodge fitted a new stove in early 1958, and Group Chairman Charlie Edwards, who ran Five Oak Green Supply Stores, delivered 1½ cwt of coal at a cost of 13/6d. Meticulously kept accounts show how the Scout Group patronised many local businesses, including Sturgeons of Pembury; Wickens, Spencer, Bishop and Stevens of Five Oak Green; and Vernon of Paddock Wood. Online shopping was unknown then!
One event which was unlikely to have taken place in the Scout Hut was February 1954's parents' evening, at which Scouts entertained the adults with songs and sketches around a camp fire - unless the fire was an imaginary one!
A real camp fire, with singing of traditional songs, rounded off a rally of 130 Wolf Cubs from Tonbridge and surrounding villages on Five Oak Green Rec that June. The boys played games before tea and then took part in sports.
Bob-a-Job Week raised £13 16s. 51/2d. One wonders who paid the halfpenny!
1954 ended with Scouts helping the community by collecting donations for cancer research on behalf of the organisers Miss F. Buggs and Mrs. F. Holman. The amount raised was £16 10s.
1955 was a significant year for the Capel Troop as twice in exactly three months the District Commissioner, Mr. Griesiell, visited Five Oak Green to present a Queen's Scout Badge. His second visit, in March, was to give the badge to Derek Kemp, age 15, of Sychem Lane. The first presentation, to Roy Humphrey in December 1954, was the first in the Tonbridge District for three years. What an achievement for Capel!
As Scout Master, Derek Dolding was assisted by Roy Humphreys and Derek Kemp. The accounts show that in October of 1957 a presentation to the value of £4. 2s. 6d. was made to the retiring Scout Master, which suggests that is when Mr. Dolding handed the baton to his successor. Charlie Edwards still held the position of Group Chairman, and Miss K. Piper of Capel Grange was Group Secretary. Since at least 1948 the Treasurer had been Harry Veall of Bank Farm, and he continued to serve in that important office until 1962, when he handed the account books to Mrs. Giles, landlady of the Queen's Head.
Group makes donation to oppressed Hungarians
The Scouts were evidently encouraged to take an interest in world events and help those in need for in November 1956 three guineas (£3. 3s. 0d.) was given to the Hungarian Relief Fund. The October Hungarian Uprising had been violently repressed by invading Soviet troops. In May that year a patrol from Capel took part in the District Camping Competition, but if they won any awards it was not recorded.
Two weeks before Mother's Day 1958 the Cubs held a 'mothers' evening' at the Scout Hut. Each Cub gave his mother a thimble as a Mothering Sunday present, and one lad was chosen to hand Akela (Mrs. W. Roffe of Paddock Wood) a bunch of daffodils.
Death of much-loved Group Chairman
Charlie Edwards was a central figure in village life, lending his practical and financial support to many organisations and individuals. When he died in 1961 the Scout Group's committee paid due tribute to their late Chairman. Older residents remember him fondly and say how he was much missed.
There can be no doubt that the Scouts took responsibility for the building in which they met very seriously, as the hut received more attention in 1961 when W. Jenner of Tanyard Cottages, Tudeley, undertook painting & other work at a cost of £40. A year later the Group repaired and painted the Institute, as many in the village continued to call it, at a cost of £77. An appeal to Kent Education Committee for a grant for the purchase of a tent was rejected on the grounds that the Council's Youth Committee had them for hire but instead, once Sir Henry d'Avigdor Goldsmid had been informed as the owner of the property and not only raised no objection but expressed willingness to make contribution himself, Kent County Council granted £25 towards the cost of repairs. That left the Group with sufficient funds to buy a tent for £15.
Although the Scouts were only tenants, until 1968, as we shall see, they were able to achieve income by hiring out the hut for carpet sales, weddings, parties and meetings of other village organisations such as the football and tennis clubs. For several Christmases it was hired by the Tonbridge Postmaster for use as a local sorting office, and the £5 paid each year must have been a useful contribution to funds.
From 1960-1964 Dave Passey was Group Scout Master, and when he moved out of the village Jack Mustill succeeded him. Jack operated the family haulage business, and even before he took on the GSM role used to allow Scouts to camp in the field next to his house 'St. Helena' in Whetsted Road. Other leaders included John Bridges, whose 20 years in uniform were recognised by the Chief Scout's Commendation for Good Services in 1982, Fred Saunders, and Dr. Anthony South, who took over the Troop in 1965.
The 1960s were busy years for the 9th Tonbridge (1st Capel), as is evidenced by the frequent purchase of badges, books, charts, patrol flags etc., and are best reported chronologically.
The first report we have is not of a Scouting activity, but the fund-raising which is so necessary to finance a Scout Group, for 1959/1960's accounts show that income from jumble sales was £29. 12. 0, and from a whist drive was £7. 19. 2. 'Bob a Job Week' raised £3. 2. 6. A jumble sale resulted in £16 being added to the Scout Hut's renovation fund.
There was success on the sporting field, too, when Capel Scouts beat the 5th Tonbridge 8 - 0 in a football match played on Five Oak Green Rec in March 1960.
1961's Whitsun Camp incurred a deficit of 7s. (35p), but that amount would have been recovered by the sale of Christmas cards, an annual source of funds. The Christmas 'good turn' that year was to take chocolates, costing 15s., to the residents of the Old Folks' Home (formerly the hospital) in Sychem Lane. Group Chairman Charlie Edwards, who had died earlier in the year, was a great benefactor to the Home and it is likely that it was he who had instigated the giving of gifts by the Scouts at Christmas.
In 1962, which was when John Bridges received his Warrant as Assistant Scout Master, a flag carrier was purchased from the Scout Shop in Buckingham Palace Road at a cost of 11s. 3d., and the Vicar, Frank Forbes, made a contribution of 10s. towards it.
The Scouts held a weekend camp at Church Farm, Tudeley, as part of the County Commissioner's Challenge Competition which promoted team work among the participating Patrols.
Trek cart damages car
During that year there had been a minor accident with the trek cart, when it damaged Mr. A. Jenner's car. He was given £1 in compensation, which he then very kindly returned as a donation to the Group. No doubt the Scouts were more careful when they took the cart out in future in case the next 'victim' was less forgiving.
It is unlikely that the cart suffered damage in the incident, but in 1963 Arthur Wickens of The Forge, Five Oak Green, 'Wheelwright, Joiner & Body Builder', attended to its axle. Mr. Wickens became the Group Chairman in September 1964.
A Whist Drive, one of a series, was attended by 34 people on a Tuesday evening in December 1963, raising £5 14s. which was put towards paying a £40 bill for heating equipment. A Christmas sale on the following Saturday raised over £15, allocated to buying new camping gear.
There was no Summer camp in 1964, but the inventory shows that the Group had 3 tents - 1 Desert type (sleeps 12) 1 Ridge (5 boy patrol tent) and 1 Ridge small (2 adults or 3 Scouts).
Jack Mustill becomes Group Scout Master
That was the year in which Dave Passey was succeeded as Group Scout Master by Jack Mustill, who also acted as Scout Master. John Bridges was his Assistant Scout Master, and he in turn was helped by Alan Lawrence and Doug Matthews. John Clifton was Troop Leader and there were 16 Scouts in 4 patrols - Owl, Peewit, Pheasant and Hawk.
1964 was a notable year as that was when activities resumed after the summer holidays 12 young lads joined the Group's Wolf Cub Pack which was re-formed with assistance from the District Cub Mistress. Five of them, the first Cubs in the village for five years, were enrolled in November. Mrs. Jessie Matthews (Akela) was the Cub Mistress, assisted by her daughter Vanessa, a Girl Guide, and John Clifton, both of whom were presented with certificates for passing a Cub Instructor course earlier in the year.
Scout Paul Lawrence, 13, was awarded his First Class Badge and certificate. He was the first of several Scouts to receive this award and had made it his aim to become a Queen's Scout.
Alan Lawrence, Paul's father, took the boys swimming in Monson Road Baths, Tunbridge Wells, most Sunday mornings "which is greatly appreciated."
On Remembrance Sunday 1964 the leaders took several boys to the service at Tudeley Church where "they were well behaved". GSM Mustill said "when we get a SM I am hoping to get the boys to church regularly." Church Parade on the 1st Sunday of the month became a fixture in the Scouting programme, with the incentive that non-attenders were not allowed to go swimming the next week. Attending Church Parade was never the most popular of Scouting activities, and boys were inventive in their excuses for avoiding it.
Skipper is a Doctor of Zoology and Seniors go to Snowdonia
Jack Mustill's hopes for a Scout Master to take over the Troop were realised in February 1965, when 31 year old Dr. Anthony South, of Paddock Wood, a lecturer in zoology at Sir John Cass College in London, accepted the role. Known to the boys as 'Skipper', he was a Queen's Scout, had attended the 1961 World Scout Jamboree in Austria, and was formerly leader of a Senior Scout Unit in Whitley Bay. Perhaps he was instrumental in encouraging 5 older Capel Scouts to form the Scott Patrol of Senior Scouts.
Jack Mustill was sent a picture postcard, dated 7th August 1965, of 'River Lledr, nr. Bettws-y-Coed', "From your faithful 'lads' of the Scott Patrol" saying "We are having a lovely time apart from the frequent rain storms. We are now cooking on one Primus stove as the other is severely damaged and useless until we get home. The view on the card is typical of Welsh scenery." They had gone to Snowdonia for the first two weeks of August on 'Operation Janus'. One plucky boy (un-named) went despite having had stitches in a leg wound the day before departure.
Probationary Assistant Scout Master 20 year old Frederick Saunders, who lived in Sychem Place, met Dr. South at his official appointment in March. The previous ASM, John Bridges took on the role of Senior Scout Leader, which meant Jack Mustill had to set about finding a replacement. "I first thought about asking Fred Saunders when he came to me last week to ask if he could hire the Scout Hut for his 21st birthday party. I have known him nearly all my life as he is a village boy, and he used to be a Cub in this Group many years ago." Frederick, a salesman in a Tonbridge shoe shop, said he is looking forward to getting back to Scouting activities.
1965 was a busy year in all sections. That January 28 Cubs and Scouts and 5 leaders had been taken by coach to Sevenoaks Gang Show "which was enjoyed", and a few days later there was a combined Scout and Cub Christmas Party. This was organised by the tireless Group Secretary Mrs. Win Smith, CSM Jessie Matthews, Mrs. Maisie Crowhurst and her son John. It was summed up as "noisy but a good time had by all."
At the March Annual General Meeting, with Arthur Wickens in the chair, Jack Mustill reported that there were 12 Cubs, 14 Scouts, 7 Senior Scouts and 4 Warranted Leaders in the Group. Change came during the year when Vanessa Mathews and John Clifton left school and no longer had time to help with the Cub Pack, but Dora Delves (Baloo) joined the team as Assistant Cub Mistress and Fred Saunders' probationary period ended and he became Assistant Scout Master. Dennis Akehurst succeeded John Clifton as Troop Leader.
Jack Mustill went on to speak about the condition of the Scout Hut, which needed attention to its roof and floor. Repairs had been agreed after discussions with Somerhill's Agent, Mr. Adamson, and Sir Henry Goldsmid, the Group President, took a keen interest. He was financially supportive, too, and on this occasion sent a cheque for £25 to help with the costs. If, following inspection, repairs were satisfactory Sir Henry said he would send another cheque which GSM Mustill said he thought "was very generous."
The hedge adjoining the hut was in a dangerous condition and Jack Mustill asked the Parish Council to get the owner to cut it, but before this could be done someone else tackled it without permission and Jack not only received the blame but narrowly escaped legal action!
Vicar a keen supporter
The Vicar, the Rev. Frank Forbes, was thanked for giving the Group some chairs, and a good piano had been donated "to replace the old one which was beyond repair." Frank Forbes took a keen interest in the Group, even swapping cassock and dog collar for shorts and open neck shirt to camp with the Scouts at Kingsdown Camp Site near Deal when Dave Passey was in charge. The Scouts responded by helping the Vicar tidy Capel Churchyard.
Letters of appreciation for the Group's assistance were received from the secretaries of the Church Fete, the Hospital Fete (at the OAP home in Sychem Lane) and the Congregational Church Christmas Fair.
Once again Capel's Cubs and Scouts took part in 'Bob-a-Job Week', which happened in Easter Week. This was the week when the boys raised money for the Group by performing domestic chores and being generally helpful, in exchange for which they were rewarded with a 'bob' - a shilling, which is 5p now. In 1965 the best results were, for the Cubs, Paul Hobbs £1. 11. 9. (including 1s. from 'SL' "To keep out of the brook") and, for the Scouts, Alan Funnell £1. 8. 6. (whose largest donation was 4s. for "chopping wood, cleaning car etc." from Frank Forbes - the Vicar).
Twelve Scouts attended the week-long Summer Camp at Buckmore Park, near Chatham. The Scouter in charge was Dr. South, assisted by ASM Bridges and Senior Scout Paul Lawrence. The Warden's inspection report stated the Capel Troop had maintained a "very tidy camp site despite large amount of rain."
In September the Group held a joint presentation ceremony in which four boys received badges. Duncan Spence, 14, and his brother Alistair, 15, were awarded their First Class Scout badges, and Paul Lawrence, 14, gained his life-saving badge. The presentations were made by District Secretary Mr. A. Cheal, who also formally warranted Jessie Matthews as Cub Mistress. The fourth boy to be presented with a badge was 8 year-old Peter Trask, who was invested as a Cub by the District Cub Mistress Mrs. B. Hoath.
At the end of October a jumble sale, the second of the year as there had been one in March, raised £18 for Scout funds, and the boys cooked sausages and onions for the customers. One hopes they were served up in baps or rolls!
As the year drew to a close a flag was bought for the Hawk Patrol at a cost of 3/9d.
1966 began with the 1st Capel holding its annual party in the Scout Hut after the 12 Cubs had been taken to the pantomime in Tunbridge Wells. After tea the Scouts went to Buckmore Park for scouting activities and swimming.
The census returns for March 1966 show Group membership as 12 Cubs, 15 Scouts, 6 Senior Scouts, and 6 Scouters. John Bridges had taken over as leader of the Senior Scouts, and Doug Matthews was an acting Assistant Scout Master.
During the Easter Bob-a-Job Week the Cubs carried out 76 jobs, including washing up and cleaning windows at the Sychem Lane Old People's Home, and the total amount earned by the11 Cubs who participated was £5. 10. 9.
In June that year 12 Wolf Cubs, 9 Scouts and 6 Leaders went on an outing to London Zoo. The admission price for all 27 was £2. 1s. 3d. Perrin's Coaches of Commercial Road, Paddock Wood, provided transport at a cost of £12. Towards the end of the month two (un-named) Capel Patrols entered the Boy Scout Patrol Challenge Cup, held at Buckmore Park. Unfortunately the result is not recorded, so we don't know how they fared, but no doubt they had a good time.
Scouts again help the Parish Council
Also in June, but closer to home, Harry Veall, Clerk to the Parish Council and formerly Group Treasurer, following a request from Tonbridge Rural District Council, asked the Scouts if they would help in locating any disused wells and cesspits in the parish. Apparently a child had died as a result of falling into an old well and District Council Members felt that urgent action should be taken to reduce the possibility of this type of accident. Jack Mustill was pleased to say the Scouts would be able to help, presumably on the basis that as in those days youngsters played in local woods, fields and orchards they would be likely to know where such wells and pits could be found.
The 1966 Scout Troop Summer Camp was at Broadstone Warren in the Ashdown Forest. This was Dr. South's last activity as Scout Master as he resigned soon after, for no other reason than the demands of his professional life, and Fred Saunders took over running the Troop with Doug Matthews as acting ASM.
That July Senior Scouts Paul Lawrence, Alistair Spence and his brother Duncan Spence had a very successful camp in Norway, filmed by their leader John Bridges. Travelling by ferry from Newcastle they stayed in Voss and Bergen, and during their stay met their Norwegian counterparts.
Above: Capel Scouts in Norway, July 1966
Closer to home, but no doubt much enjoyed by the 32-strong party, was the August trip to London to see the Gang Show at Golders Green Hippodrome.
In December Sir Henry Goldsmid, through his Agent, donated £25 from the Somerhill Charity Fund. In thanking him GSM Mustill said the money would be put towards insulating the ceiling, installing new lighting and redecorating the hall. The opportunity to improve insulation would have been welcome as by then the Institute must have been heated and lit by electricity and a record exists of amounts put in the meter by leaders. Presumably they claimed the expense back from the Treasurer, Mrs. Giles. At around this time she resigned as Treasurer "owing to the increase of her business activities and also for health reasons." In gratitude for her four years' work for the Group the District Commissioner presented her with a "Thanks Badge" and Certificate from the Chief Scout. Mrs. Thomas succeeded her in charge of the Group's finances.
Major change comes to the Scouting
1967 introduced major changes to Scouting. As a result of recommendations made in the Association's 'Advance Party Report', published in 1966, the word 'Boy' was dropped and Wolf Cubs became Cub Scouts, while Senior Scouts became Venture Scouts and their age range changed to 16-20. 'Masters' and 'Mistresses' became 'Leaders'. Out went Scout shorts (except for the Cubs) and 'Mountie' hats in favour of trousers and berets, the Scout Law was amended, the badge system was thoroughly revised and leaders were not only expected to undergo formal training but became subject to a retirement age.
In March 1967 there were 14 Cub Scouts, and 15 Scouts & Senior Scouts. Joining as Assistant Scout Leader was Keith Bromhead, a Queen's Scout and former leader who had recently moved into the village. He was an especially welcome addition to the leadership team as it was his Mini van which in June took all the Troop's camping equipment to Kingsdown Camp Site near Deal. Wayne Matthews helped with the Cub Pack.
During Easter's Bob-a-Job Week 11 Cubs earned £8-11-10 (David Wells topped the list with £2-0-1) and 6 Scouts earned £3-15-9 (Colin Spence came top with 17s). At a jumble sale, another popular source of income in those days, Rita Clements, known to the Cubs as Bagheera, recruited Margaret Ellis (Kaa) as an Assistant Cub Scout Leader.
Cub Leaders remember
Margaret Ellis and Dora Delves fondly remember the well-planned weekly Pack meetings with their games, badge work and Scouting tests, weekend camps at Tudeley, ten mile walks along the Medway (with the boys joined together by a length of string in case one fell in!), trips to Ralph Reader Gang Shows, 5-a-sides at Wembley, and football matches against boys at Swaylands in Penshurst. It is evident that the leaders, who gave up so much of their time for the Cubs, enjoyed the experience as much as the boys did.
In July 1967 Christopher and Steven Hardstone, members of the 5th Dartford Group, moved from Darenth to the King's Head, Five Oak Green, and joined the 1st Capel. Mrs. Joy Hardstone, their mother, became chairman of the Parents' Committee and her hard work over the next two years substantially increased the Group's income. She was succeeded by Doug Matthews, who was already the Group Quartermaster. That same month Wayne Matthews, Doug's son, was presented with his First Class badge and Scout Cord by the District Commissioner, Mr. Cheal.
Mrs. Thomas found she could not continue as Treasurer and the role was taken on by Mrs. Bromhead.
Ken Urquhart is new Scout Leader
25 year-old Ken Urquhart was a Scout Leader in St.Pancras, London, where he lived until he moved to Five Oak Green in August 1967, not long after the new housing estate was built. While still leading his St. Pancras Troop he took a party to Buckmore Park, Chatham, where a chance conversation led to Capel's Group Scout Leader, Jack Mustill, turning up on his doorstep within days of his arrival in Willow Crescent to invite him to run the Scout Troop here. Jack Mustill told the Courier "There will be some new life in the Group now with Mr. Urquhart as Scout Leader. We have an enthusiastic young team and with all the new development in the area are hoping to attract more lads to the modern idea of Scouting."
It was Ken Urquhart's aim to build up the Group's numbers and demonstrate that the 9th Tonbridge (1st Capel) was not, as it had been widely regarded, the 'poor relation' of Tonbridge and Paddock Wood Groups. Beyond Scouting, Ken threw himself into local life, as he was not only a Parish Councillor for 5 years but also played for Capel Cricket Club and Capel Football Club.
Whether it was the new Scout Leader's idea is not revealed, but that December for the first time on record the boys went carol singing, collecting £13. Proceeds of the Christmas Fair were put towards repairing the Scout Hut, where work had started to install a false ceiling designed to make the building easier to keep warm.
Mrs. Hardstone was an enthusiastic fund-raiser, including holding a weekly draw at the King's Head. She organised a 'supermarket sweep' at the VG Falmouth Stores (at the time of writing a veterinary surgery) run by Mr. Beadle. As the draw's first prize in January 1968 the winner could take as much as they were able in a certain time. First there would be a 'dummy run', as Mrs. Hardstone told the Courier "I am going to see how much I can take from Mr. Beadle's shop in one minute and the winner's time in the shop will then be decided."
An Easter Egg Competition raised £40, with the hard-working Group Secretary Win Smith appropriately, or perhaps to her embarrassment, winning first prize.
In March 1968 the Group had 35 members, made up of 15 Cubs, 11 Scouts, 1 Venture Scout, 7 Leaders and an Instructor.
A lease granted to the Scout Group, and extension planned
It was in 1968, appropriately on April 23rd, St. George's Day, that a 21 year lease on the Institute "for use as Scout Hut" was signed between the agents of the Goldsmid Somerhill Estate and Arthur Wickens, Group Chairman, and John Mustill, Group Scout Leader, Trustees of the 9th Tonbridge (1st Capel) Scout Group. The rent was one peppercorn, payable on 25th December. Granting of the lease was expected to enable a grant to be obtained to fund an extension. The terms of the new lease, which allowed the building to be used only for Scouting activities, meant that Tonbridge Postmaster's request for it to be used at Christmas 1968 had to be refused.
In June 1968 the Somerhill Estate Office drew a plan to extend the building, replacing the lean-to at the rear where the trek cart was kept with a kitchen and toilets. A folder of correspondence from then until mid-1970 between the Group, the Estate's Agent and various official bodies shows that the project was not without many hurdles to overcome, not least attempts to obtain a grant towards the cost. Doug Matthews, Group Quartermaster, was appointed Chairman of the Building Fund Committee and later took over management of the work, which began with the demolition of the lean-to in April 1970. During these negotiations it was agreed by Seeboard to remove the transformer which stood adjacent to the hall and for which the Group had hitherto received a modest rent.
Whether for future use or to replace existing fittings is not stated, but this is when Crush Bros Ltd., Demolition Contractors, supplied 6 windows and an oak door and frame for £23.
In his report for 1968 GSL Mustill spoke of the implementation of the changes arising from the Advance Party Report, particularly in matters of uniform, and thanked the parents for their co-operation and the loyalty of the boys. He went on to thank Mrs. Hardstone for all she had done as Chairman of the Parents' Committee and Doug Matthews for adding that role to everything else he did for the Group.
There were then 18 Cubs and 18 Scouts. Wayne Matthews had become Troop Leader.
June 29th saw the Scouts hold their annual fund-raising fair on the Recreation Ground, to which a special invitation was extended to other local Groups, a jumble sale in November and Christmas Fair in December.
Scouts distribute X-ray leaflets
In September 1968 the Medical Director of the Mass Radiography Service wrote to say that arrangements had been made for a Mass X-ray Survey to be carried out in Five Oak Green, and Mr. Coleman, Clerk to the Parish Council and for several years auditor of the Group's accounts, had suggested the Scouts might be make a house-to-house distribution of leaflets advertising the survey. GSL Mustill replied that he would be very pleased to assist in this way. This had been done two years before, when Harry Veall was Clerk.
Costings were sought for construction of the Scout Hut extension, and in March 1969 Albert Simmons, on behalf of Simmons Bros., submitted an estimate of £1420. For a Group with 44 members in a not especially affluent area it was a huge challenge to raise such a sum, which was over and above everyday running expenses, but it rose to that challenge with enthusiasm.
An appeal was launched to raise the necessary funds when the Group was told the chances of getting a government grant were remote. The Building Committee promoted the sale of 'bricks' and recruited volunteers to help with the work. To give the fund a good start £250 was transferred from the general account.
During April 1969 alone there was an Easter Egg Draw, jumble sale and whist drive. Throughout the 1960s & 1970s monthly (sometimes fortnightly) whist drives were a very popular social activity as well as a means of fund-raising. In fact they were so popular they almost invariably attracted around 50 players and on occasion the hall was so full overflow tables were set up in Mr. Wickens' house, Rose Cottage, next door!
There was the annual Bob-a-Job as usual, and the Summer Fair in June which made a profit of £85. Sir Harry d'Avigdor-Goldsmid opened the Fair, at which he was presented with a medal in appreciation of his services to the Group. Whether he attended December's 'Christmas Fayre' is not recorded, but he made another donation of £20. Other causes were not forgotten as the proceeds of the May whist drive were donated, as the Accounts record, "to Spastics" (a term in common usage in those days but not appropriate now). Closer to home, and acknowledging the Goldsmid family's support for the Group, a wedding present costing £3 was given to Miss Chloe d'Avigdor-Goldsmid on her marriage to James Teacher.
During the spring Capel's Scouts again came to the aid of the Parish Council, this time in response to a request to trace un-named streets in the parish.
On the first Sunday in June the newly formed Brownie Pack paraded with Scouts and Cubs at All Saints', Tudeley. The Vicar, the Rev. Frank Forbes, led the service, but most of it was taken by the Scouts who read the lesson and were sidesmen.
A highlight of the year 1969 for the Cubs will have been their trip to a Rally in Ashford to meet the Chief Scout, Sir Charles Maclean. The Scouts camp at Buckmore Park, attended by a record number of Capel boys, was described in the Parish Magazine as "an excellent opportunity for meeting members of other Groups." This resulted in a number of boys from Sittingbourne visiting the parish during August, camping in Jack Mustill's field and "passing various tests to qualify for badges."
In July 1969 Venture Scout Paul Lawrence, and possibly others, went to a Kent County Venture Scout/Ranger Guide camp on the Scottish Isle of Arran. A few photographs exist, but the people in them are not named!
Capel goes to Kandersteg for the first time
The Scouts went even farther afield - on their first trip to the Scout Movement's international camp site at Kandersteg in Switzerland. Wayne Matthews was Troop Leader at the time, and he remembers that camping equipment was sent on ahead, only for it to arrive a few days after the campers! That meant they had to sleep in one of the big chalet's dormitories. While staying there John Bridges decided to cook rice pudding. He first put in too much rice and after several attempts to remedy the situation by adding more milk and then more rice ended up with four billycans full of pudding, which was far more than they could eat. There were native American Scouts on the site and in full 'Red Indian' (as it was known in those days) costume they put on a show of war dances to entertain us.
1970 got off to a flying start with a January outing to London, when the boys visited Baden Powell House and Madame Tussaud's. The cost of the Maidstone & District coach was £16. During that year the Cubs camped at Perry Wood, and the Scouts at Penshurst and the Leaders, probably as part of their training, went to Gilwell Park.
In June, as crowds watched, Scouts and Cubs went through the motions of saving a man's life - using an expensive mockup 'doll.' Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was carried out on the £120 model, borrowed for the occasion. The demonstration was a highlight of Tudeley Church Fete, held on Five Oak Green Rec, at which over £180 was raised for general church funds and to help redecorate Capel Church. The Scouts, Guides, Brownies and Cubs also ran a barbecue and camping display.
During the same month a Patrol from Five Oak Green took part in the District Whitsun Camp held at Hall Place, Leigh, home of Lord and Lady Hollanden.
There had been a plan to launch a 'buy a brick' scheme to raise money for the building fund, but it was decided to organise sponsored walks as that would involve everyone. 1970's 15-mile walk, undertaken by almost 60 Scouts, Cubs, Guides, Leaders and parents, raised just over £200, and 1971's brought in £186.
At about this time Keith Bromhead ceased to be a leader, but for several years ran the Cubs' football team.
New Leaders were appointed, when in December 1970 Major Michael Devonshire, District Commissioner for Tonbridge, presented Paul Lawrence and Robin Hollamby, with their warrants as Assistant Scout Leaders. On that occasion Senior Patrol Leader Christopher Hardstone received a cup on behalf of the Troop for the 1st Capel being awarded the most proficiency badges in that year. This was the first time since 1948 Capel's Scouts had won the cup.
Hut extension completed
1971 was a milestone year for the 1st Capel as that was when the extension to the hut was completed. As a result of being built with volunteer labour the final cost was £832. As Jack Mustill said, the extension "is proving very useful and which has given much more room for all Scout activities."
The Kent & Sussex Courier of 5th February told the story:-
SCOUTS RAISE £1,000
"Scouts at Five Oak Green did not become discouraged when they were refused a grant for an extension to their hut.
In two years they managed to collect £1,000 towards the necessary alterations. Then a building team of parents, led by Mr. Doug Matthews, took over and put up the extension, saving about £500 in labour costs.
At the official opening of the extension on Saturday night, Mr. John Mustill, Group Scout Leader, paid tribute to the efforts of the parents.
He said: "We could not get a grant, so the money raised was spent on building materials. Had we been forced to pay labour costs, there would have been no extension opening today."
The extension was opened by Sir Henry d'Avigdor Goldsmid, and blessed by the Rev. Frank Forbes, Vicar of Capel-cum-Tudeley.
The District Commissioner, Major Michael Devonshire, presented Robin Hollamby with his Scout Leader Warrant, and gave Mr. Matthews a Thanks Badge. Also present was Mr. G. Fairclough, who was Scoutmaster when the Troop was started in 1936."
Above: The ceremony to mark the opening of the Scout Hut extension
Robin Hollamby, who as already mentioned had been recruited as Assistant Scout Leader in 1970 (while attending one of the whist drives!), took over the Troop as Scout Leader in 1971 when Ken Urquhart stepped up to be GSL in succession to Jack Mustill.
It was in April 1971 that Jack Mustill presented his last AGM report as GSL, having first been acting ASL, then Chairman, then GSL. Reaching the age of 65 he was obliged by the Association's rules to retire as a uniformed leader, but there was no escape - he became Group Chairman. In recognition of his long service he was awarded the Scout Association's Medal of Merit, and the Group gave him a desk calendar and pen holder. His predecessor as Chairman, Arthur Wickens, was presented with a Thanks Badge by the District Commissioner. Ken Urquhart, besides running the Troop, took over as Acting Group Scout Leader, which at that time had 18 Cub Scouts, 18 Scouts and 10 Leaders, among them Paul Lawrence who was helping with the Scout Troop. At that AGM the District Commissioner, Major Michael Devonshire, presented Capel with the District Cup for gaining most points, though there is no record of the nature of the competition.
The Scouts' contribution to the community at large was exemplified in June 1971 when two of them assisted the Parish Council in its efforts to reduce the large number of unofficial rubbish tips in the area. The Council had written to Tonbridge RDC complaining about the dumps and asking for action, but were told they would have to pinpoint each tip and find out who owned it. It seemed an impossible task until 14 year-old Scouts Alan Ellis and David Lawrence volunteered to make a report on the dumps to earn their Scouting social service badge.
The Scouting year 1972 began with 22 Cub Scouts, 16 Scouts, 2 Venture Scouts and 7 Leaders. Although the number of Cubs had increased to 22, there were only 16 Scouts because 2 had, by dint of age, gone up into the Venture Unit.
OAPs receive hop poles and trek cart sold
An unusual item on 1972's AGM agenda stated "All hop poles distributed to members of the Capel Country Friends who were capable to saw them up." Presumably the "capable" elderly residents were grateful for this free fuel for their fires. If the poles were transported by trek cart this might have been one of the last times it was used, for in September the cart, which the Group was so pleased to acquire in 1948, was sold for £8. 50p. The identity of the cart's purchaser, or the reason for the sale, is not recorded, but perhaps it was because the extension to the hut had replaced the lean-to shed and there was now nowhere to store it. Or perhaps it was because the roads were by then considered too dangerous for the boys to take it out. Just as likely is that the need for it was much reduced as more leader and parents will have had motor vehicles to transport the Group's equipment.
In May the Scouts and Guides took part in their first joint camp at Headcorn. Previously the two Groups have got together only for a training camp, but this time it was, as the Courier described it, "strictly for pleasure." About 24 Scouts and Guides took part, together with 10 adults and four young children. It was hoped to repeat the venture again in the near future, but if that happened no report of it has been found.
1972's Summer Camp was held at Downe Scout Campsite, and was run by Robin Hollamby, Acting Scout Leader. The boys were able to put their Scouting skills to practical use, and also teach some of the younger boys camping for the first time the finer points of life under canvas.
A 'supermarket sweep' was held in June, when winning ticket holder Tudeley housewife Mrs. Anne Underwood dashed round the shop in Five Oak Green, filled three wire baskets full of goods, and then left without paying. Before she drove away she was congratulated by a small watching crowd. Her lucky ticket was one of 600 sold by the Scout Group's supporters, who were raising money for central heating in the Scout Hut, and it entitled her to two minutes of 'grocery grabbing' in the store. Group Scout Leader Ken Urquhart was timekeeper as Mrs. Underwood, of the Old Vicarage, Tudeley, nipped between the shelves. Included among the items in her baskets were requests from her two young daughters.
Store owners Mr. & Mrs. Donald Broadribb added up the shopping, which totalled £9.54. They donated £2 to the prize and the Scouts' supporters paid the rest. The competition raised £29.20 towards the £300 target for the heating fund.
Another 'grab' was held at the VG Stores in September. One of the Scout Leaders had sent the Courier report of June's event to Scout Headquarters, and Ken Urquhart said "The people in London thought it was a marvellous idea, and are now going to send details to every Scout Group in the country."
The need for fund-raising was not over, as £9.36 came from a Tupperware Party, and almost £250 was raised by another sponsored walk. As before, in October Scouts and Guides walked 15 miles and Cubs and Brownies walked ten miles only on footpaths. Capel Parish Council had asked participants to check the conditions of the paths and the general opinion of youngsters returning to the hall in the afternoon was that they are good.
On the following Friday 60 Scouts, Cubs, Guides and Brownies held a joint camp fire on Jack Mustill's field in Whetsted Road, where they feasted on soup and rolls while they sang and performed stunts. and two days later Scouts undertook a cycling proficiency test.
Once again, in October, a party of Scouts and Cubs went to the Gang Show at the Odeon, Golders Green.
With an overseas expedition to look forward to, the fund-raising continued in 1973. In February Capel Country Friends gave a £25 donation and another 'grocery grab' at the VG Stores raised £16. 66p. A Pippa Dee Party raised £20 and the Somerhill Estate gave £55 're heating'.
Wickens Memorial Cup presented
At the 1973 Annual General Meeting, held on 7th May, Mrs. Dorothy Wickens presented the Maurice Wickens Memorial Cup, to be awarded each year at the AGM to the most outstanding boy in the Scout Troop for all-round ability, progress, keenness and loyalty. The winner was Neil Ellis. Maurice Wickens, who died in 1972, was a very keen supporter of the Group, and was sadly missed. The Group donated £2 to British Cancer Research in Maurice Wickens' memory.
The 1973 AGM was also notable for the switch-on of the Scout Hut's new heating system, for which money had been raised by sponsored walks, whist drives and parties. During the evening Robin Hollamby gave a film show of the Scouts at camp, and plans were discussed concerning the proposed trip to Switzerland in August. The Scouts and Cubs were praised for their proficiency in earning badges during the year, which was described as a good one both financially and from a Scouting point of view. Sir Henry d'Avigdor Goldsmid was re-elected as President, with Jack Mustill as Chairman, Keith Bromhead as Treasurer and Mrs. Win Smith as Secretary.
1973 saw the formation of an area Venture Unit, given the name of Venturons, covering Five Oak Green, East Peckham, and Paddock Wood. Its 12 members, 5 of them from Capel parish, met at the HQ in Five Oak Green each Tuesday under the leadership of Jim Corp.
Robin Hollamby gave up the position of Scout Leader in 1973 as he had changed job and found it difficult to attend regularly, but he remained active in Scouting as Special Activities Organiser and in 1974 became Assistant Venture Scout Leader. A year later he took over from Jim Corp as the Unit's Leader, and recalls several trips to North Wales and the Lake District where the Venturons went on long hikes and put into practice the climbing skills learned at Bull's Hollow, Rusthall.
Tribute paid to tireless supporters
In his 1973 report GSL Ken Urquhart paid tribute to the Group Supporters' Association under the Chairmanship of Doug Matthews which had raised such substantial funds that central heating had been installed in the H.Q., the work being carried out by the Group's Vice-Chairman Ernie Ellis.
He went on to say "I would like to mention Mrs. Win Smith who has been our Secretary for more years than most people can remember. She is a real pillar of strength in the Group; there isn't a task that she doesn't undertake, always cheerfully, and always to the best of her ability, which is considerable. She has helped me, and everyone else, to do their jobs properly, and to remind us of so many things that have to be done in the management of the Group."
It is impossible to understate the contribution made by Win Smith. As well as dealing with the essential administration as Secretary, she organised many of the fund-raising events such as raffles and whist drives. Her name, and that of Doug Matthews, appears repeatedly in the Group's papers, and both the Scouts and the wider community owe them a great debt of gratitude. When Win finally retired she was succeeded by Paulette Fetter.
The report from Cub Scout Leader Jessie Matthews has been lost, but that for the Scouts paints a picture of a successful year and "many good times had together."
There were 18 boys in the Troop, and 4 leaders, one of whom was ex-Scout Alan Ellis. He was particularly thanked for the way he moved from a boy in the Troop to a Leader, described as not an easy change but one which he coped with well, his keenness and ability making him an ideal link between boys and leaders. Both Alan Ellis and Dave Lawrence gained the Chief Scout's Award.
During the year 3 boys, Neil Ellis, David Coatsworth and Ricky Jenner, gained their Advanced Scout Award, and Gary King, Michael Stinton and Steven Barns were expected to gain theirs very soon. Ken Urquhart remembers 4 boys, Gary King, Neil Ellis, Ricky Jenner and Steven Barns, going on to earn the Chief Scout's Award at the same time, which was possibly a record for Tonbridge District. There were 6 boys working on their Pioneer badge, involving ropework, knot-tying and construction of bridges etc., made of rope and spars. Three more were starting on their Fireman badge.
Nine boys passed the Master-at-Arms badge, for which they showed proficiency in the art of boxing under their instructor Trevor Tully, a former Kent champion.
Capel goes to Kandersteg
It was in the summer of 1973 that Ken Urquhart again took a party of Scouts, this time joined by family members and supporters, to Switzerland, as reported in the Courier of 24th August:-
"Five Oak Green Scouts returned last week from a holiday in Switzerland, where they stayed in a chalet used by Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement, in 1922. The chalet in Kandersteg in the Bernese Oberland has become a meeting place for Scouts from all over the world. The Five Oak Green Scouts, from the 9th Tonbridge Group, were in the company of others from Greece, Holland and America. Their visit co-incided with the chalet's 50th anniversary celebrations and they took part in a variety of sports, did a great deal of walking and learned about international relations. Mr. Kenneth Urquhart, the group's leader, said "Scouting makes a boy a better individual - more self-reliant. These things can be gained from any camp, but visits abroad also extend their knowledge of the world."
The 6 Scouts who made the Channel crossing to catch an overnight train from Calais were Paul King, Ashley Clements, Andrew Lawrence, Steve Barns, Neil Ellis and Ron Cheesman. Ron remembers camping in Kandersteg's grounds, while the parents and others, among them Win Smith, Jack Mustill, Glynis Hollamby, and Lionel, Margaret and Sharon Summers, stayed in a nearby hotel. The party visited Berne, went swimming in Interlaken, took a trip up a mountain by cable car and had a ride on a chair lift. Ron's fondest memories are of eating chips and mayonnaise from a little stall close to the campsite, winning a crazy golf competition and having his first, not very successful, attempt at ice-skating.
Above: Capel Scouts pose for this photograph before leaving for Kandersteg, 1973. Ken Urquhart is at the right of the back row.
Few reports of other activities in 1974 have survived, but it is doubtful anything could match that trip to Switzerland. It was recorded, though, that when 13 year-old Linda Parker received her Queen's Guide award in January of that year, the Guides celebrated her achievement by holding a disco in the Scout Hut to which Scouts were invited.
When Ken Urquhart moved away in 1975 Ernie Ellis became Group Scout Leader and Roy Humphrey was persuaded to assume leadership of the Troop with Keith Delves as Assistant Scout Leader.
The final item of news which has come to light is especially significant given the flooding parts of the parish experienced in February 2020, for in April 1976 Scouts helped to clear the Alders Stream culvert in Five Oak Green.
And so the first 40 years of the 1st Capel's story came to an end, but Scouting in the Parish did not end there, for until the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 the Group continued to provide fun and adventure for the Cubs and Scouts who walked in the footsteps of the hundreds of boys who laid the trail. Perhaps one day the Group will be re-formed and bring the benefits of Scouting to future generations?