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History of Upholland Scouts 1918-2018

7 December 2018

First Upholland Scout Group-brief history
Draft history-please forgive any errors or omissions and feel free to send any additions or corrections to

The 1st Upholland (St.Thomas the Martyr) Scout Group was formed in 1918 by Scout Master George Ainscough and GH Brown and Dr Tom Shirlaw.

They met upstairs at Abbey Lakes Dance Hall. Boys (boys only) paid for their uniforms piece by piece. The photo shows Scouts probably wearing cut down Great War uniforms, plentiful in 1918. Note the leader’s puttees widely worn on the western front in France.
In 1920 they held a Jamboree in a field in Upholland to raise money. Many other Groups competed in field sports, there was a brass band playing for dancing and a tethered balloon giving rides. Enough money was raised to send some Scouts to the first World Scout Jamboree in Olympia in London joining 8000 Scouts from 34 countries..

Upholland Scouts formed in 1918

Like many Scout groups the Scouts were often involved in parades for events.
Holland’s of Upholland made the group a trek cart, a sprung hand cart for transporting camping kit, so they could go camping. Some Scouts in the Group at this time-Fred Gaskell, Jim Ashcroft, and Tom Barton preferred the camping to the parading! (Fred Gaskell much later wrote down his recollections of this time for Gerald Gaskell)
Using the cart camps were organised in Ormskirk, Southport, Roby Mill and Appley Bridge. Scout groups would walk pulling and dragging the trek cart (a good example can be seen in the Waddecar Museum of Scouting)
Carts had a draw bar for 2 Scouts at the front and ropes attached to each wheel hub to drag the cart along and hold it back on downhill sections!
The Group had a band with 1 cornet, 8 bugles, 3 side and a bass drum.
They lost all their equipment when the dance hall at Abbey Lakes was sold and the new owner wouldn’t let them recover it. What a disaster! The new owner a Mr Webster refused to hand it over claiming he had bought the whole building and contents.
The Church magazine records varying fortunes for the Group during the 1930’s. Camps were held, concerts given and they struck up a friendship with the Rev Neville Gorton and the Rover Scouts (equivalent of today’s Explorers) of Sedbergh School where 50 boys camped several times in 1929 and again in 1930 under W Barton the camp chief. They also had camps at Troutbeck. Patrol Leader Norman Mills ran events at this time.
It was common practice with Groups to travel from railway stations whilst their kit was carried in the guards van or with a carrier to their destination. Trek carts were made to take apart without tools for easy transport.

Over the 1930’s and 1940’s the Group was led by Mr T E Sewart of Spencers Lane, Orrell and met in “Upholland Gardens” (see exhibition picture) and by 1941 had two separate companies, one led by the Vicar and meeting at Greenfield House in the village and a second led by W R Searle and Maurice Lancaster meeting at Digmoor. During the war the Group, like many groups collected paper and other salvage for the war effort-they must have replaced their trek cart. In 1938 a steel tyred trek cart, painted and shipped to Upholland was £18 9s 6d (About £18.48).
At this time the Scouts, Guides and Rangers were under the general control of the Vicar of Upholland, indeed it was common practice for the local Rector to be the Group Scout Leader for many groups. This was the situation at the 12th Wigan (St. Andrews) Scout Group in the 1950’s and ‘60’s when the Rector Canon Eric Beard was an active GSL and later Father Joseph D’Arcy of St.Teresa’s Roman Catholic Church in Upholland held his Wood Beads as a qualified Scout Leader.
Upholland was at this time a “closed” group with membership open only to members of St.Thomas the Martyr Church but in 1941 the Group took the decision to allow membership from other denominations, a decision anticipating a change to a truly ecumenical group some decades later under the guidance of Rev. Michael Wolfe of Upholland.
In 1941 the Group was made up of:

Troop Leader: John Molyneux

Blackbird patrol: Frank Winstanley, Richard Grundy, David Forshaw, Arnold Wainwright, Ernest Roughley, Frank Boardman, Roy Clough, Owen Gillar.

Owl Patrol: Allan Pennington, John Gregson, Eric Watkinson, Dennis McRitchie, Eric Howarth, Colin Guest, Allan Kirk, Aubrey Shrives, Norman Lancaster.

These photographs show an Upholland Scouts camp at Dawlish in Devon in 1946. Clearly identifiable are the Rev. Ted Rowlands, curate of Upholland and later Chaplain to Wigan District Scouts, and his wife-can you identify anyone else?

In the sea with Ted Rowlands at Dawlish. Great costumes-do you recognise anyone?

Camping in a bell tent at Dawlish in 1946

Breakfast time at Dawlish. Ivan Talbot on the left.

The known history of the Group resumes in earnest in 1959 when the memories of Gerald Gaskell can be tapped. Gerald would become one of the longest serving leaders of the Group, later becoming Group Scout Leader. At this time the Group met in some old stables at Holland Hall.
The Group was re-registered in December 1960 thanks largely to the efforts of two Scouters, Eddie Greenhalgh from Upholland (who later became camp chief at Gilwell Park, the centre of Scouting) and Alan Davenport, who was a District Scout Leader from the 12th Wigan (St. Andrews) and the leader there of John Lechmere our current Cub Scout leader.
Alan had been a naval Petty Officer during the war and had started a post war Scout Group in the harbour at Singapore whilst his ship was stationed there.

In 1973 Gerald Gaskell took over as Cub Scout Leader from a trainee Priest from St.Joseph’s. There were 23 boys and 3 leaders and in 1974 there were enough boys aged 11 to start a Scout section. The Cub pack grew to 36 and met in the “Top Hut” at the old St.Thomas’s School in Church Street (see exhibition photos)
There followed a very successful period for the Group with a very active parents committee raising money for new tents (they had inherited the bell tent from 1946)
They camped at Rydal Hall and Bispham Hall and in 1976 Gerald went to Gilwell Park in Essex for his advanced training and won the Cub Leader of the Year trophy.
Gerald became Group Scout Leader in 1983 gaining the Medal of Merit in 1988. A highlight of this time was the Group’s visit to Germany with Tim Stewart, Ray and Marg Swift and John and Gill Sharman.
Cliff Lowe and Ray Swift were the Scout leaders during this time and Cliff later became Ormskirk District Commissioner and subsequently West Lancashire County Scout Commissioner.
Margery Swift and Gill Sharman were the Cub Scout Leaders; later starting up the first Beaver Scout Colony in the District for boys aged 6-8. Gill later went on to become Asst. County Commissioner (Beavers) and served on working parties at Scout HQ Gilwell park later concerned with Beaver Scout development.
Marie Brennan became Beaver Scout Leader and was in turn replaced by Ulrike Halliwell and later by Rachel Wilkinson.
Kay Harvey and Eileen Berkley took over the Cub Pack in 1984 and John Lechmere became Cub Scout Leader in 1991 a position he still holds in 2018 over this time he has been helped by, Chris Sinnott, Steve Roberts and Craig Kirby who will take over the Cub Pack on 1 January 2019. Craig in turn will be replaced by Gerard Loughney as ACSL
Ray Burton, Dave Marsh and Alan Ashurst were the Scout Leaders and Alan became Group Scout Leader when Gerald retired (but the Scouts were not done with him and when Alan left Gerald was brought back into service as Group Scout Manager as, by now, he was over 65 and at this time you were not allowed to hold a Leader warrant over this age, an exceptionally enlightened, now discarded, policy!)
Dave Marsh ran an Explorer Scout Unit alongside the Scout Group for a time, later being promoted to ADC Scouts and ACC Scouts in West Lancashire.

When Gerald finally retired Mark Brennan became Group Scout Leader and in turn he was replaced by his wife Marie Brennan our Beaver Scout Leader as Group Scout Leader.
Chris Sinnott, who has been in every section of the Group as Beaver Scout, Cub Scout, Scout, Venture Scout and Asst. Cub Scout Leader became Group Scout Leader in 2013.
Adam Lechmere is the Scout Leader, a second generation of Lechmere Scouters in Upholland, with Chris and Steve O’Brien.

Brought up to date

The Group now has 65 members, Beavers, Cubs and Scouts with a contingent of Explorer Scouts and Young Leaders. We now meet at the Methodist Church schoolroom and St.Thomas the Martyr Parish Rooms on Friday nights thanks to sponsorship by the Upholland Covenant Council.
Over our Group’s life we’ve supported members to journey to:
The great world Scout Coming-of Age jamboree at Arrowe Park in 1929 and::
The World Scout Jamboree in the USA 1979 (Mark Lowe)
The World Scout Jamboree in Canada 1983 (John Woods)
A large group to Erkrath in Germany in 1989
The World Scout Jamboree in Holland 1995 (Carl Ashurst)
The World Scout jamboree in Chile 1999 (Chris Nicol)
County Go Danish expedition 2015 (Andrew Roberts)
Plus County Mountaineering Group expeditions to Norway, the Alps and Greenland (Adam Lechmere)
The Group runs kayak, canoe and sailing adventures in the UK and runs an annual sea kayak expedition to the west coast of Scotland.. This event was supported for many years by Tim Barton, former Curate of St.Thomas’s and Vicar of St.Michael’s Dalton until his death in March 2017 and has continued since led by John & Adam Lechmere.
Our very extensive equipment supplies are kept on farms in Roby Mill by the kind support of long term supporters.

Leaders in 2018:
Group Scout Leader: Chris Sinnott
Scout Leader: Adam Lechmere
Asst. Scout Leader: Steve O’Brien
Cub Scout Leader: John Lechmere
Asst. Cub Scout Leaders: Craig Kirby & Gerard Loughney
Beaver Scout Leader: Rachel Wilkinson
Asst. Beaver Scout Leader: Kerri Kirby
Sectional Assistants: Nick Wright, Jon Martin, Chris Nelson
Group Quartermasters: John & Pam Lechmere

Key supporters:
Elsie Waterworth, John & Lynn Speakman, Simon Ratcliffe

Activity Leaders with the Group
Adam Lechmere BCU L3 Coach/Scout Helm Permit/Mountain Leader
John Lechmere BCU L3 Coach/Scout Helm Permit
Chris Sinnott BCU L3 Coach/Mountain Leader
Craig Kirby Scout Shooting Permit

John Lechmere 4 November 2017 (revised November 2018)