Baden-Powell inspects Scouts at Luton Hoo

Baden-Powell at Luton Hoo

[The Luton Reporter: Tuesday, July 8th, 1919]

Saturday was a red-letter day in the ten years history of the Boy Scouts movement in Luton and Bedfordshire generally, some 800 Scouts and Wolf Cubs drawn from all parts of the county gathering at Luton Hoo Park to show appreciation of the first visit paid to Bedfordshire Scouts by the Chief Scout and founder of this brotherhood of boys, Lieut-Gen Sir Robert S. S. Baden-Powell KCB.

Thanks to the kindness afforded by Lady Wernher, who entertained the famous B-P during his stay, the occasion was made a representative county camp in which 23 Bedfordshire troops and five packs of Wolf Cubs took part.

All the Luton troops were there – the 1st Luton (Scoutmaster J. H. H. Downes and J. L. Tansley, ASMs R. Hutson and F. Halstead); St Saviour's Blue Foxes (SM Rev E. Scott, ASM A. A. Gorbold); St Peter's (SM Rev G. W. Russell, ASM E. Silvester); St Mary's (SM Rev W. C. M. Winter, ASM L. J. Merchant); Stopsley and Round Green (SM Capt S. Bennett CA, ASM Lee).

Wolf Cubs of the 1st Luton (Cubmaster J. H. H. Downes, instructor F. A. Allen); St Saviour's (Cubmaster A. A. Gorbold); St Peter's (Rev G. W. Russell) and Stopsley and Round Green (Nurse Shorthouse).

The Scouts were accommodated in two large marquees and such tents as the visiting troops could muster just inside the Park Street entrance to the Hoo Park, and no pains were spared to make their stay under canvas enjoyable. Food difficulties made it necessary for the lads to bring their food with them, but there was a canteen at which they could make purchases during specified hours.

The Luton troops went into camp on Friday evening for the purpose of getting things ship-shape, but visiting troops did not arrive until Saturday, when the great event was the county rally in the afternoon.

The rally was something entirely new to Luton, and it was therefore most unfortunate that unfavourable weather should have marred a really picturesque and imposing ceremonial and one which, despite the conditions, aroused considerable local interest.

The Chief Scout had an enthusiastic welcome from his Scouts and Cubs, and there was a representative company of visitors from all parts of the county in the reserved enclosure, among those accepting invitations being the Lord Lieutenant (County Chairman) and Mrs S. Howard Whitbread; Emily Lady Ampthill and the Hon Mrs Russell, Capt the Hon Mowbray St John (District Commissioner for North Beds) and the Hon Miss Mowbray St John; Mr Howard Spensley (County Commissioner); Lieut-Col F. A. D. Stevens (District Commissioner for Bedford); Lieut-Col R. R. B. Orlebar and Miss E. Orlebar; the Mayor of Luton; Town Clerk of Luton and Mrs W. Smith; the Mayor of Dunstable and Mrs F. T. Garrett; M. A. H. Wingfield (Ampthill); and Mrs Joselyn (County Commissioner of the Girl Guides).

The Rev E. Scott (District Commissioner for South Beds and Assistant Commissioner for Luton) was the officer in charge, and as chairman of the committee responsible for the whole arrangements had the co-operation of District Scoutmaster W. H. Lee as hon secretary. The efficiency with which they and their colleagues discharged their functions won the high praise of the Chief Scout.

The arrival of the Chief Scout was denoted by the breaking of the Union Jack on a flagstaff in the centre of the rally ground, and after he had been received by the Commissioners and Scoutmasters acting on the rally staff a shout of “Pack, pack, pack” brought out the Cubs in one long single line. They were in the charge of SM Russell and ASM Gorbold, and led by Sixers S. G. Smith and P. Hunt, two Dunstable lads who were among the first boys in the county to join the Cubs.

Forming up in a circle, they faced the Chief Scout and, squatting down, gave the Grand Howl “Akela (old wolf) we'll do our best,” and they doubled off to the respective plots of ground allotted to them.

As soon as the Cubs were clear the massed colour parties, in the charge of District Scoutmaster Lee, marched on, headed by the Dunstable band under ASM A. Pratt and with the 1st Lutons, winners of the Roff county challenge flag, carrying their trophy. Followed by their troop officers, they were drawn up in line facing the Chief Scout, and the General Salute was given.

With the retirement of the colour parties came the entrance of the Scouts in a special rally, led by the 1st Lutons and in the charge of DSM Wilson, SM Tansley and ASM Halstead. Moving at a slow trot with staves at the trail, they brought their staves to the shoulder and gave their salute as their passed the Chief, and as the spiral unwound each troop made for its display ground and a whole series of displays was at once commenced.

The 1st Lutons did knotting and general scouting; St Saviour's laundryman badge work; St Peter's camp life; St Mary's bridge building; Stopsley and Round Green hut building; Dunstable uses of the Scout staff.

It was all very interesting, and as Sir Robert walked round and watched the lads, he was evidently much impressed with the skill and adaptability displayed. When the displays had finished, the Wolf Cubs came on the scene again and, after their had squatted outside the staff circle, the troops formed up the circular rally.

After this the Chief Scout addressed them and presented warrants of appointment to commissioners and assistant commissioners.

Baden-Powell at Luton Hoo