1950’s Memories of Scouting

My name is David Sherin. I joined the 2nd. Southampton Scout Troop in about 1952, which at that time was situated in Vaudrey Street off of Church Street. The Troop Hut was a former Builders Yard and store, and at that time it reminded me of a Tudor building with the upper floor overlapping the pavement.

The higher floor was used as the Scout Headquarters, and the lower or ground floor was split into two rooms, and as far as I can remember, one was used as the store for the Trek-Cart and the other for all of the camping gear, tents, etc.

Everything was so dusty. The tents that we used then were all old bell tents. They were big and very heavy especially when wet.

The uniform that we wore (again as far as I can remember) was a bush hat a neckerchief with a woggle to hold it in place, a lanyard, a green jumper on which you would sew your badges, starting on the sleeves.

We would also wear a pair of grey shorts, and a belt with the scout insignia on the buckle we also wore long grey socks with green tabs on elastic to hold the socks up and to finish our uniform off. Your very special Sheath Knife which was to us kids was the be all and end all for us, who had probably never to have been allowed to carry a knife of any sort at all before we had joined the Scouts.

When we went camping we would usually take the Trek-Cart which would be loaded up with our ruck sacks and all of the rest of the gear necessary to camp for the weekend. The Trek-Cart would be pulled and pushed by all and would eventually get us to our destination. One of the most local of our campsites was the wooded area on the corner of Deerleap lane and Hunters Hill On the A35 at Colbury, and some other sites in the New Forest in the vicinity of Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst etc.

We were taught all sorts of useful things like knot tying, measuring heights of buildings and the like using our wooden staff. We also learnt to light a camp fire, cooking, first aid etc. When we went camping in and around the New Forest, we would usually get to wherever we were going by pulling the Trek Cart with all of our gear on it. There would be two boys pulling on the T bar while the rest of us would be pulling on the ropes each side of the cart which was fixed on a ring attached to the axle.

Unfortunately, I could not go to all of the camps as I had to help my father in the family business, quite a lot of that time, but when. I did manage to go; it was delightful with the comradeship and the friendships that were formed because whatever we were asked to do we did willingly and worked as a team. To me, the highlight of the day was, after our evening meal and all of the clearing up had been done. We would sit around the camp fire drinking cocoa and singing camp fire songs.

The campsite at Bank was close to where The New Forest Reptile Centre is now and we set up camp in an area where the Highland Water was on two sides of the site just below where the Highland Water and the White Shoot Waters met. It was on this site that I remember having my first lesson in camp cooking, having to mix up some flour and water to make the dough which was attached to a stick and placed over the fire to cook, and as expected half of it fell into the flames.

During our summer holidays from school we would go out on Bob-A-Job to earn money for the Scouting Movement, we would do all sorts of jobs, cleaning Windows, clearing out garages, pruning trees, etc. We would do anything to earn money. Then, of course, there were the usual annual parades; Remembrance Day, St. Georges Day, and of course the Church Parades all of which made us proud to belong to such a wonderful movement for young people and to help us understand the benefits of being a team member.