1907 – Scouting Starts
29th July 1907, the date which Lord Baden Powell started the Scout movement, the first group to be formed in the district was the 1st Rickmansworth (Lord Ebury’s own) in 1909.
1910 – The start of 1st Chorleywood
Batchworth Sea Scout group was formerly known as the 1st Chorleywood scout troop. The 1st Chorleywood (West) troop was formed in 1910 when a Mr H.M. Parsons moved to the village from London, where he had been an assistant scoutmaster for about a year. The troop consisted of 20 scouts split into two patrols, Woodpigeons under Patrol Leader (PL) Saunders and Peewits under PL Waring.
1914 – World War 1
The troop continued to prosper until the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914. With it came conscription and the troop soon lost it’s Scoutmaster. However it continued to operate for a further 2 years under the direction of the PLs until they too came to the age for their own call up, and as there were no successors who were capable of taking charge, the troop closed until October 1920.
1920 – Lady Ela Russells Own
A considerable amount of equipment was donated to the troop by Lady Ela Russell of Chorleywood House, Lady Russell became the troops president, and permitted them to use the drill hall attached to Chorleywood House. The group was then known as 1st Chorleywood (Lady Ela Russells Own) 15th South West Herts. The last part of the title was retained until 1954 when the Rickmansworth and Chorleywood District was formed.
The troop went on summer camp to Hill Farm Ellesborough in 1921, and in 1922 to Little Holland in Essex.
1922 saw the start of the group’s Cub Pack, and two members of the troop being presented with Kings Scout Awards.
The troop and cub pack were closed for the majority of 1924 due to lack of leaders. On 17th of October 1924 Mr W Thomas re-started the group with a number of the original boys. The troop was again called the 1st Chorleywood 15th South West Herts, although due to the resignation of the President her name was dropped from the title. For some time the boys had to meet in various buildings, Chorleywood Common School, and the working mens club in the Swillett.
1929 – Change to Sea Scouts
Until the summer of 1926 the troop had no thoughts of taking to the water, until quite by accident or perhaps by design a Saturday afternoon meeting was held on Batchworth lake, using hired skiffs. This proved so popular that the troop requested further such afternoons, and fairly soon a regular session was help on the lake in which scouts were taught to handle boats under oars. The troop still used to meet regularly at Chorleywood, and still wore land scout uniform, but it was obvious to Mr Thomas that there was enough interest to consider the formation of a Sea Scout Troop. The 1st Chorleywood gradually became centred on Rickmansworth, but was called 1st Chorleywood until after the end of the Second World War.
In 1928 the group acquired its first boat a nine foot sailing dinghy called Punch, which was moored on Batchworth Lake. A old boathouse was rented on the eastern island of the lake. In October 1928 the New Zealand Shipping Company gave the troop a twenty six foot ships lifeboat, which was beached on the island next to the boat house, while a great deal of work was carried out to make her seaworthy. This included fitting a cabin, and filling the hull with a large quantity of concrete to make her stable.
The boat officially launched and named the Lady Ela on 19th Oct 1929, the ceremony was performed by David Blackley the chairman of the South West Herts Boy Scout Association. At this time the troop officially became Sea Scouts.
1931 – Expedition in Lady Ela
The troop went from strength to strength numbers steadily increased, and in 1931 the first cruise was undertaken. The troop loaded all the camping equipment into Lady Ela, and planned to tow her to Aylesbury, towing her by hand from the footpath. Everything went fairly well until they turned left off the main section of the Grand Union Canal and headed down the Aylesbury branch. Here they encountered the problem of getting Lady Ela – beam of seven feet through locks that were six foot six wide. The problem was finally overcome by passing a rope round the hull, and tightening it by using a Spanish Windlass, thus squeezing the whole boat until she would just pass through the locks. Lady Ela served the group until she sank on Batchworth lake in 1938.
1939 – World War II
In September 1939 Mr Savage (the scoutmaster) and the entire Rover Scout Crew were recruited into the forces. Mr Thomas (the Group Scout Leader) was involved with the local Home Guard Unit. The countries resources became strained to the limit, and soon every scout group in the country was collecting waste paper and scrap metal to help the war effort. The Home Guard often made use of scout groups, and 15th South West Herts were often on messenger duties.
Men who had been serving as Coast Guards before the war were required to serve in the Royal Navy or Merchant Navy. Sea Scout Groups including 15th South West Herts and 57th South West Herts (Now 6th Rickmansworth Sea Scout Group) were soon taking their turn keeping watch on the East and South Coasts. It was this work that lead to our scout group becoming Admiralty Qualified (now know as Royal Navy Recognised).
1945 – Post War Period
The old boathouse on the eastern island of Batchworth Lake had rotted during the war, and was no longer useable. In 1945 a new boathouse was built in the Bury Grounds, this was the first building to be owned by the group. The boathouse did not have water or electricity so was not a suitable venue for the Cub pack to meet. They met at house in Valley Road.
Scout Leader Savage made it through the war, and he returned to being Scoutmaster in 1946, Mr Thomas continued as Group Scout Leader. Mr Thomas persuaded his brother Derek to become an assistant scout leader. Mr. Anthony Savage, the scout leader and Miss Audrey Beeson, the Cub pack leader, were later married.
During 1947 the Cubs met on Saturday afternoons in the Bury, and later in the Bowling Pavilion behind the Council Offices. This was apparent torment for the Bowling Green Keeper, so meetings were transferred to the Headquarters of the 57th South West Herts (now 6th Rickmansworth).
1947 summer camp was held at Lulworth. The Group formed a controversial Senior Scout Section in 1948. Summer camp 1949 was Arundel, in 1950 & 1951 it was Botley Hampshire. 1952 was the year of the Suez crisis which brought about petrol rationing, hence summer camp was held in Denham. On returning to Rickmansworth the Group found that their boathouse has been broken into, and a fire lit inside. This burnt beyond repair a 10 foot dinghy which had only just acquired by the group. Luckily the majority of the groups boats were on camp at Denham.
Formation of 1st Batchworth
The groups parents, Senior Scouts and Leaders built the groups first headquarters for a total of £300 (not our current HQ, but almost the same site). It was opened in 1953 By County Commissioner Mr L. Pears.
Our Old Head Quarters situated next to the Grand Union Canal in Rickmansworth Hertfordshire UK.
In 1954 South West Herts District had around 100 scout groups. In May this was split into smaller districts, our group was renamed 1st Batchworth (2nd Rickmansworth and Chorleywood).
1968 – New Headquarters Open
In 1965 the group bought their first ocean going boat – Boom. In the same year, the group was notified that a new road to bypass Rickmansworth town centre – Riverside Drive – was planned to go through the site of our headquarters, a new building fund was launched. Rickmansworth Urban District Council eventually offered a new third of an acre site a few yards away. Clearance of the many trees on the site started February 1967, building work started in October. The new headquarters was opened 28th September 1968, by Rear Admiral John Thompson (Chairman of Hertfordshire Scouts) with Melville Balsillie (County Commissioner).
Batchworth Sea Scouts continued to evolve with the world around us and embraced girls into all sections in the early 2000’s, along with changes to the section age ranges which provided elder members with their own section when Explorer Scouts superseded Ventures.
Our headquarters remained a vital resource to the young people of Rickmansworth. Upgrade work is continuous, from a major internal reconfiguration of the the mid-90’s through to care and maintenance of our quayside area & car park. Whilst the group no longer own a dedicated yacht, the dinghy and kayaking fleet was bolstered with grants from the Scout Association’s Admiralty Fund allowing the group to purchase a 5m RIB, six Canadian Canoes plus renewing all safety equipment.
All this was celebrated in 2009 when a party for all current and former members commemorated both the previous year’s 100th anniversary of the group and the following year’s 40th birthday of the new headquarters.
As the group continued to attract youth members across all ages, additional sections have been added to the roster with two beaver colonies, two cub packs and two scout troops now meeting weekly at our Headquarters. Most sections are regularly operating at capacity, including the explorer unit, with a constant drive to attract fresh volunteers into the group to sustain our activity levels & facilities.
Many of our scouting traditions continue to be upheld, with a parade of scouts forming a guard of honour at the wedding of one of the group’s leaders in 2018.
Expeditions in recent times have included to Lochearnhead Scout Station in the Trossachs, where a programme of sailing, hiking, kayaking and cycling kept over 50 youth members engaged. New additions to the programme include Stand-Up Paddleboarding, Jamboree on the Internet and even surfing lessons!
With the many benefits of scouts now widely recognised, the numbers in the scouting movement expanded in leaps and bounds. Scouting is now in all but five countries in the world: China, Cuba, Myanmar (formerly Burma), North Korea and Turkmenistan do not have any Scout movements.
All in all it is believed that the total membership over the last 100 years of Scouting (and Guiding) is somewhere in the region of half-a-billion, and that its effects have touched many more.
Batchworth Sea Scouts main headquarters is now bursting at the seams with a redevelopment programme in hand to plan, fund-raise and deliver significant enhancements to the future generations of Sea Scouts.