10th Warrington (Sankey St Mary’s) Scout Group History

Our Scout Group is one of the oldest in Warrington and we are proud of its history as part of the local community.

Origins

The group was originally registered in 1927 as land scouts, sponsored by St Mary’s Church in the Great Sankey area of Warrington. However, it is known that at some point, the troop became sea scouts and the group believes that later there were two troops, one sea scouts and one land scouts, but records are sketchy so no dates are at present known.

Our Beaver colony is called “Aspen” although the origin of the name is not known. The Cub pack is named “Atherton” although the origin of the name is not known. It is also known that at one time there was a second Cub Pack which was called “Lilford”. The Scout Troop is named “Sir John Hunt” after a member of the 1953 team who climbed Everest. The scouts in the troop at the time wrote to Sir John to ask if they could use his name as he was somewhat of a celebrity at the time. He gave his permission.

The group also had a Venture Scout Unit called “Osprey”. There was then a joint VSU set up called “Ellorgaestas” with a couple of other local groups (7th and 32nd), meeting at the 7th HQ in Hood Manor. This joint unit was active from 1998-2002 whereupon it changed to become an Explorer Unit.

Initially, the Group met at the Institute in Penketh, then moved to a wooden hut at the bottom of St Mary’s Road which it occupied for over 30 years. The group currently meets at its own HQ on Highfield Avenue. The land was previously owned by the Church but the group purchased it outright in 2017. The hut was previously used for Italian POWs during the Second World War. At that time it was located in the neighbouring area of Penketh but was moved to its present location by members of the group around 1960. They were helped by parishioners from the church and moved it piece by piece but added a new roof. The floor of the hut was cut into sections to facilitate the move and these marks can still be seen today.

Difficult times

In 2005, due to falling numbers, the Scout Troop (section) closed. However, in 2009, a new GSL made it his priority to get it running again, which he achieved in January 2011. Since then, it has grown and is now stable once more.

A fire started at the hut in October 2006 due to an electrical fault. Luckily it was spotted quickly and put out before too much damage was done. It was mainly around the entrance foyer and some scorch marks can still be seen on the floor to this day. The opportunity was taken to remodel the area to provide more useable space and create the ‘office area’ in the main hall.
The group (beavers and cubs) needed to meet elsewhere until the insurance claim and repairs were complete. The scouts and guides at Latham Hall in Penketh very kindly offered their hall as a place to meet. It was nearly a full year before the 10th could return to their own scout hut. Quite some time after, when clearing and tidying the attic above the main hall, some gas bottles with scorch marks were discovered. It was only then we realised how lucky we had been that the fire had not been allowed to progress further with explosive consequences!

In 2015 the group was threatened with eviction as the Church wished to sell the Church Hall (Sunday School) and the land where the Scout Hut is located. In the end a compromise was reached which allowed the Group to buy the land and secure the future of the Scout Hut, but with the loss of the grassed area to the rear.

Timeline

Here is a timeline that is drawn from the information held in our records and other sources.

Date Event
1927 First registered, meeting at Penketh Institute
1932? HQ at bottom of St Mary’s Road (Meeting Lane)
1953 Scout Troup takes the name of Sir John Hunt, Everest expedition team member
1960 Construction of scout hut on land adjoining Sunday school commences
1961 Work on scout hut ongoing, the second phase of re-roofing completed
1962 Old HQ at bottom of St Mary’s Road demolished
1967 Changes in scouting; Cub Scouts replace Wolf Cubs, Boy Scouts renamed Scouts, Venture Scouts replace Senior Scouts and Rover Scouts, new uniform (long trousers, berets)
(1974) Ventures
1976 Changes in Scouting; Girls allowed to join Venture Scouts
1977 Group badge proposed by John Hughes to celebrate 50th anniversary
1980 Group badge awarded
(1980, 1988) Sea Scouts mentioned
1986 Changes in Scouting; Beavers section added
? Aspen colony formed
(1988) Atherton pack mentioned
(1988, 1994) Lilford pack mentioned
1989 Ventures suspended
1991 Changes in Scouting; Girls allowed to join Cubs and Scouts
1994 Sir John Hunt Troop restarted after a three-year gap
1994 Portakabin kitchen and toilet block installed and connected to main hut
(1998) Joint VSU formed
1990 Warrington Scout District split into East and West
2002 Changes in Scouting; New programme, Explorer Scouts and Network replace Venture Scouts
2003 Explorers
2005 Scout troop closes
2006 Fire at the hut, meet at Latham Hall for the next 12 months
2007 Hut re-opens, a revision to the internal layout
2011 Scout troop re-opens
2015 Church puts Church Hall (Sunday School) up for sale including the Scout Hut land
2017 Group completes purchase of land from the Church
2019 Group starts “Big Build” project to replace welfare facilities
2020-21 Coronavirus pandemic prevents group from meeting for large part of the year. Sections continue online using “Zoom” video-conferencing

The Sea Scout Troop was named “Chay Blyth” in 1980-1983, but we are not sure when they adopted this. They had a boating base on the River Weaver at Frodsham.

Put your phone down and what are you left with? Just teamwork, courage and the skills to succeed.’
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls