Main content of the page

Main page content

A great find....

We were very fortunate to be contacted by Chris Tapster after a visit to 1st Shipley after many years, Chris kindly summarised some of his memoirs during his time in the troop..

Many thanks Chris , from 1st Shipley Scouts....

Can you add anything to his story , please feel free to contact us at any time, we would love to hear from you....

Dear 1st Shipley,

I was a member of the troop nearly 50 years ago and wondered if you might be interested in some reminiscences. I put these together last year for a local scouting friend. I was delighted to find the thatched scout hut still being used when I made a rare trip down south a couple of years ago and visited Dragons green for the first time since 1968, and somewhere I still have my original campfire blanket. "I joined my first troop in 1965, having gone up from Cubs. At that time we lived on the RAF station at Newton near Nottingham. The troop was, naturally, an Air-Scout unit and the uniform comprised a blue/grey version of the traditional short-sleeved shirt, black shorts, beret and a pale blue neckerchief with dark blue stripes which, if ironed properly, gave a pleasing chevron effect. We met in an empty barrack room. In early 1966 Dad was posted down to Sussex and I transferred to the local troop, the 1st Shipley, whose headquarters were in a former thatched chapel in the hamlet of Dragon's Green which was a couple of miles from the village of Shipley itself. We were allowed to camp in an adjacent field, which is where we practised for the annual Sussex County Camping Championships. The uniform was the traditional khaki and we still wore the original broad-brimmed "Baden-Powell" hat. There were four patrols - Peewits and Owls were two of them- and we were the last troop in the country to pay 2d (=two old pence) weekly subscription instead of the usual 6d (=sixpence). We met on a Friday evening and transport was provided by willing parents until the troop purchased a splendid old 1950's coach which took us to camps and on excursions. The scoutmaster was "Adj" Wright, who'd served in the RAF during WW2 and did a lot for the scouts. He was assisted by his son Brian and a chap known as "Shiner". On Friday nights the first half of the meet would be taken up with learning and practising the necessary skills for the Second Class proficiency badge (I remember there were four knots involved including the square and diagonal lashings and the bowline) ; the second half would be games which burned off a lot of energy and were introduced with the order "Hats and knives off!" Annual camps were under traditional canvas, with activities, games, camp-fires and excursions. In 1966 we were at Fairford in Gloucestershire and Dad arranged for the Red Arrows, who were based there, to put on a display for us. At that time the RAF was testing a cargo aircraft called the Bristol Belfast and every evening around 8 pm this thing would come in to land flying low over our camp site, making a deafening noise and causing the ground to vibrate. The following year we camped near Sidmouth in Devon and suffered the tragedy of one of the scouts being swept out to sea by a freak wave and drowned. But back to the camping competition. This involved arriving on site with a sort of home-made go-cart or trolley with steerable front wheels which would be piled high with the tent, our kitbags (white ex-forces bags issued for the contest so they were all the same), the raised fire-tray and an old metal bread-bin for use as an oven plus some other bits of kit. The troop would arrive at the designated time pulling the trolley and would then set up the standard-pattern canvas patrol tent (that's all there was in those days) and this would be observed and marks given. The square and diagonal lashings then came into their own because they were used to lash together pre-prepared poles and sticks of various lengths to construct a "camp dresser" to hold the cooking gear and our plates and dishes (all white enamel with blue edges). Over the course of the weekend there were tasks to be completed and assessed, and the inside of the tent, the cooking and the general state of the camp would be under the continual gaze of the inspecting Scout leaders and marked accordingly. Our standard main meal, which would be sampled and assessed, was steak pie with mashed spuds and peas. One year we forgot to place the brick in the bread-bin oven which conducted heat to the underside of the pie so that it remained uncooked and we had to wolf down raw pastry and uncooked meat before the judges appeared. And the reward for the effort? The winning patrol was presented with the trophy, which was an artefact once in the possession of Lady Baden-Powell - namely a vase made from a camel's bladder and mounted on a wooden base. The 1st Shipley won the competition five years running and I was there for two of those years. Somewhere I have prints of the newspaper photos of our winning team with this pot. I stayed with the Scouts until 1968, when we moved away from the area, although still in Sussex and joined the Combined Cadet Force at school which was the start of my military career. But that's another story."

With best wishes, Chris Tapster

PS ... Update....

I've just taken a look at the photos from the 1960's and I can identify some of the individualsĀ  - whom I haven't seen since 1967.

The 5th photo from the top is of the wonderful Adj Wright; the next one down is the winning camping competition team with the camel's bladder trophy and shield - 3rd from left in the back row is Adj's son Brian, in the middle row 2nd from left is David Woods who was my patrol leader (Peewit Patrol), 3rd from left is Robert Kempson who became patrol leader of Owl Patrol, centre is Adj Wright and at the end on the right is Peter Duddy.

The 8th photo down shows the winning team from another year, left to right they are Robert Kempson, unidentified, Chris Jones, unidentified, Peter Duddy, David Woods.

Thanks for the update Chris....

Go back to the list of articles