Runwell Scouts (1)

I remember as a young Cub, late 1940s, helping wire brush curved corrugated iron sheets and then tar coating them ready for erecting the Scout Hut. My uncle, Bill Croot, was the builder.  It was a messy job. Uncle Bill was a First World War veteran who knew how these buildings were built.

In 1949 I was one of ten Scouts chosen in Essex to go to the first international Jamboree. It was held in Belfairs Wood Hockley, and was spread over three or four fields. We had to walk a fair way to get water and we had to queue. You can imagine thousands of Scouts, all talking different languages, queuing for water.

I can remember the camp fire field. It had a large circular hole, which was terraced for seating, rising out of the hole.  The fire consistently stoked up with trees etc.  It was a good camp fire every night for a week.

Each night Scouts from different countries would do a turn, singing acting etc.  It was great round the camp fire (no health and safety then)

I remember the Latvian Scout. He stayed with the Pearce family for a couple of weeks after the Jamboree. He then left to find his lost parents who had vanished under Germany/Russian rule 1949/50. He promised to keep in touch with the family but was never heard of again!

We used to have a great carnival in those days.  My father would take his lorry (John Sadds) up to Freshfields, which is now Greenways Brock Hill.

We would decorate it and ourselves and then proceed to Castledon Road . The procession would leave and proceed down London Road , through Wickford and on to the fields opposite the Quart Pot and behind the Old Rectory.

It was mostly the Dagenham Girl Pipers who led the parade. They had their own marquee and played to an audience inside.  Being a young Cub I used to pull a tent peg out and crawl underneath to watch (they were some stalwart ladies).

One year around 1947 I won first prize in the raffle. It was a no.3. Meccano set (for those of you who remember Meccano sets)

Norman Simmonds erected an aerial rope way between large trees that were behind the Old Rectory (again no health and safety).

The Runwell allotments were the site of the Gymkhana. Farmers and horse lovers would use this field for their games and jumps. It must be good for vegetables now.


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  • Does Bob Croot have any other memories of Bill Croot? I  believe Bill Croot built his own house in Runwell before the war and tried to run a general shop from it. Also that, in possibly the 1960s-70s, he was running an old people’s club. I am Bill Croot’s great granddaughter and George Harrison’s granddaughter of Church End Lane. Any information would be gratefully appreciated, also any photos of the Croots.

    By GIllian Price (15/07/2015)
  • It’s good to know that some of the old troop of Runwell are still around. I never moved very far, I still live in Brock Hill.

    By B0b croot (15/05/2014)
  • It was my mum, Mrs Win Peirce, who was the 1st Runwell akela at that time (and later akela of 1st Wickford), and she regularly organised gang shows as well as a more serious production, JM Barrie’s ‘The Boy David’ in about 1948/49 and the rehearsals went on for ever, as Denis Ketley recalls! I remember it because a lot of the rehearsals were held at Freshfields. Reg Payne was the scout leader and he played King Saul (my big brother Martin was David, who killed Goliath). Was it you, Bob, who struggled with the line ‘..and when the sun is ‘ot…’? I was too young for the cubs then, but Martin attended that 1949 Jamboree and I recall that Dinese Tillicks was the Latvian boy who stayed with us afterwards. As you say, Bob, he went in search of his family but we never heard from him again. My dad ran the 1st Wickford Scouts for a while and they and the 1st Runwell Scouts regularly camped in our fields at Freshfields (remember Mike Connelly, anyone?). In the photo I think Martin is the ‘other one’ in a suit, and I might be second cub from the right at the front. My mum died 6 years ago at the ripe old age of 95 (the soot shower sounds absolutely typical of her) but dad died in 1966, only 62. Happy memories.

    By David Peirce (25/02/2014)
  • The Gang Shows had rehearsals for 9 months for 2 performances, I think.  I am pretty sure that’s me standing in uniform next to Bob Croot behind the boy in front who I think is my brother Michael.

    By Denis Ketley (10/01/2014)
  • Cyril, do you remember the Oniots the family who went to Australia when we were in the A.T.C..I was taken into R.A.F. from the ATC, did you?,we used to parade on the forecourt opposite the St Andrews hall in them days,

    By BOBCROOT (25/04/2013)
  • Bob

    Hi. Great read, John Kershaw re Nevendon road, one Saturday, took me to the hut you speak of I think we went up the unmade road off Swan Lane. I joined the 1st Runwell Cubs. Yes, your dad drove us all to the Carnival, firstly went to Mr and Mrs Peirs, big house at the Greenaways Mr and Mrs P then proceeded to cover all those on the float in soot head to toe. Black on your dads float was a throne probably made by your dad. Mrs P then gave me a fluorescent light tube and a golden crown made of cardboard covered in gold paper. We then proceeded on our way then to the field opposite the Quart Pot Pub. Lo and behold we won 1st prize, A £5 note.

    N/B Valerie Wood was Carnival Queen.

    Then regarding 1st Wickford Cubs Richard Jup and I were both sixers and a Mr Woodcock of the Congregational Church, we started the 1st Wickford, then when I was 15 I joined the 1474 Squadron at Wickford Senior School  After some time we got a hut at the back of St Andrews Hall. We were Old King Cole in the carnival by the way, 1950?

    By cyril styles (06/01/2013)

    By bob croot (28/07/2012)

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