A meeting was held of all people interested in forming a group and a parents’ committee was formed. About 12 boys started the cub pack and 8 boys made up a small scout troop. The first few meetings were held in a small room in Old Blands School. The Group Scout Master at that time was Mr Sutton and the Scout master was Mr Hobbs (assisted by Mrs Hobbs). The Akela was Mrs Sutton. At the first meeting of the parents’ committee it was agreed that their main task was to provide the group with its own headquarters and a separate fund was started for that purpose.
After only one year, the members of the troop and the pack had trebled, which meant that the small school room was no longer big enough. The group moved into the Old Technical School and gained more help – Mr Watts became the assistant scout master and Mrs Butterworth and Mrs Thomas became cub helpers.Towards the end of this year an old hut was acquired which was dismantled by the parents and Scouters and taken to the piece of waste land behind Holiday House. The parents’ committee and the Scouters then began preparing plans for the erection of the hut and preparation of the site.
Mr and Mrs Sutton left the district and in their place Mr Stephen became G.S.M and Mrs Butterworth became Akela. During the previous winter, sections of the hut had weathered badly. It was whilst the parents and Scouters were considering what should be done about the scout hut that there came the offer of two huts from Newbury. Those huts were in very good condition and looked as if they would move easily. One of the conditions of the offer was that the huts had to be dismantled and the sites left clear within three weeks. Parents rallied round and parties of both parents and Scouters went every evening to Newbury and within two weeks the two huts were safely stacked behind Holiday House. Luckily transport was provided by Wiggins & Sankey Ltd. and by Fishers. At this point, our faithful chairman of the parents’ committee, Mr Petty, left the district.
Work started on erecting the two huts. It had been decided to put the two huts together and as one was wider than the other this meant that this hut would have a new roof and floor. The plans were drawn up in such a way that a toilet block could be added at a later date.
The troop moved in! Actually they only moved into half of the hut as the roof was not finished. Having seen the troop settled in its home, Mr Stephen was asked to become the District Commissioner for this area, which he accepted. Mr Hobbs then took on the job of G.S.M.
The pack now started using the hut. Lighting and heating had been installed and it looked as though the work would soon be finished. Thanks to the faithful few (parents and Scouters) the job was completed. The opening was planned for May as this coincided with the group’s 3rd birthday. In three years, this group had achieved something that some groups never achieve – they had built themselves a place of their own!
The group arranged to sub-lease land adjacent to Holiday House – 21 year lease where the overall landlords were the Parish Council. The old HQ hut was erected.
Parish Council identified the need for a village hall.
Holiday House fell into disrepair and was demolished. Parish Council considered the site for a new village hall.
Outline Planning Consent for the new village hall was obtained with the stipulation that the scout group must move. Parish Council warn scouts of probable termination of lease but advised that the old recreation site might be available if DOE approval was obtained.
About 10 alternative sites were investigated but apart from the recreation ground (outline planning permission April 1978) all the others were rejected (Planning refusal, Resident Opposition, Access etc.). In July, the Scout Group building committee was formed.
In April, the scouts were given one years notice to quit. The Parish Council gave an ‘in principle’ offer for a 35 year lease on the old recreation ground site – subject to DOE Approval. In October, detailed planning consent was obtained.
‘Eviction’ is postponed but an extension to the notice to quit is stopped in September. Grant Aid for the village hall is promised but needs to be spent by March 1981. Court proceedings to remove the scouts (16th December) – scouts ordered to leave site before 5th January 1981. Old HQ is demolished as ordered (and partly re erected on new site)
Scouts meet at HMS Dauntless and then Mrs Blands School. DOE pass matter on to charity commissioners who delay their decision. In April, Newbury District Council approves a major grant for the project. A County Council loan was agreed in February.
Charity Commission approval is obtained in July and building begins with the aid of Berkshire Youth Action
September is confirmed as the date for rehousing the scout group