The History of
7th Banbury Scout Group.

'Recollections of 7th', written by Mike Dean:

I joined 7th Banbury Cubs 1956 after a brief spell in 2nd Banbury alongside Ron Sangster. I don’t recall that he was instrumental in me transferring to 7th. I remained closely connected with the Group until late seventies when work took me away. I was a cub, Scout, Senior Scout Assistant, Scout Leader and Assistant Venture Scout Leader. I gained my Queens Scout as did my brothers John and Richard and I know my parents were most proud to have three Queens Scout sons which was, and is, something somewhat unique. I will break these recollections into sections to hopefully make easier reading.

Jolly Weavers Scout Hut: This was a wooden hut on stilts accessed via rickety stairs. It had a main room and a store and was heated by a coal burning stove. This latter appliance had to be lit at approx. 4.00 pm in order to heat the room for 6.30. The downside of this system was that the doors to the room had to be left open for 20 mins to allow the smoke within the room to escape. 

Fund Raising: This mainly took the form of weekly whist drives at the Unitarian Church Hall, a Christmas Raffle and Jumble sales. For this latter function, items would be collected using the Group trek cart which was a large open topped metal box mounted on a couple of motor cycle wheels. This was also at times used to transport camping equipment to Broughton Castle pulled all the way there by willing(?) Scouts.

New!! Headquarters: Land was purchased in School Lane off Southam Road. The existing building was knocked down with the bricks being saved either to line the new building when cleaned or to be crushed (by hand) to form a base for the new structure. A concrete base was laid and then a sectional concrete building was erected. This was then lined and finished. Those who have vivid memories will clearly recall the lack of flush toilets and the regular propensity for the elsans to overflow. Virtually all the labour to deliver this super HQ was voluntary from within parents and leaders. Only the building was erected by professionals. Shortly after the building went into use it was burgled and the Insurance company then required us to insert 1 inch diameter steel bars at all the windows. To achieve this holes needed to be drilled with industrial (heavy) drills. Most materials within the building were begged or donated and the bricks above the windows were of the blue industrial variety and exceedingly hard. Many man days were spent on this aspect 

Summer Camps: These were an important part of 7th Banbury activity. One recalls several visits to SRDE Christchurch where we camped at the side of their cricket pitch with a stream running along behind us. There were also camps at Warsash, Bransgore, Minehead, Matlock, Monmouth and certainly we were pioneers when we travelled to Belgium and later in 1971 to Salzburg in Austria. We were pioneers in the use of Jeffs Coaches for these latter trips. Some equipment had to be loaded inside the coach and on the Belgium trip, the driver Dave Little pointed out that the bus had no steering control as he descended a steep cobbled street. The equipment had been loaded in the back seat (next the emergency exit) and consequently weight had lifted the front wheels of the bus off the ground. For subsequent trips rows of seats were removed in the centre of the bus, between the axles, to avoid a dangerous recurrence. For the trip to Austria we took 1st Grimsby Scouts with us. The total in camp was 100 and we needed 3 of Mr Jeff’s buses including his brand new Volvo, one of the first of these vehicles in the country with driver Dave Little, in charge, Fred, no 2, and Albert, did as he was told. The drivers camped with us and were great at washing up. 

Camps were led originally by Reg Thomas. I recall clearly the tea which was made with tins of condensed milk. Reg was followed by Dennis Bowler who was a Funeral Director. We often served meals from a lovely melamine topped folding table. This was in fact the undertakers portable laying out table. Table cloths for our old rusting metal tables were white plastic sheeting used to line coffins! 

We camped in Matlock in 1976, which those of you who were around then will recall was an exceedingly hot and dry summer. Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding were being served for Sunday lunch. Our oven (ex-army) was a double skinned metal box with a door. This was placed on top of a fire. It was sometimes difficult to control the heat of the fire. On this occasion the Yorkshire pudding caught fire in the oven and when removed to extinguish the fire it ignited the surrounding grass land. No great harm done! 

7th Banbury always carried a reputation for leading the way. We were one of the first to cook on gas at camp, to use a coach to take us to camp, to camp overseas, to use frame tents as opposed to ridge tents etc. etc. We also had a reputation for doing things in style. Our checkpoint arrangements on Tour de Trigs were the envy of many whether on Crouch Hill or Shenlow Hill. I am convinced that walkers probably dropped out at our checkpoints when they experienced the cooking aromas emanating from the tent.

Mike Dean

Copyright June 2016

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