1913 Group m scout master torrance

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The information below was compiled by John Rogers from Newspaper cuttings and locally sourced information.

At the 1977 scout reunion (50th Anniversary)  it was recounted that the first Scout Troop was started in March 1913 under a Mr Paton of Larkhall and Mr A. McCrimmon. The meetings were held in the Townhead St. School and in June of the same year Mr Robert Naismith was the Cub Master of a newly formed pack. The troop had 60 members and the pack 20. With the beginning of the war in 1914, the Officers, and those boys old enough, joining the army, the Troop ceased until 1915. Mr Alex Torrance and his wife re organised the Troop which again met in the Townhead St. School and for the next three years Scouting was very successful. At this time the Troop working on very friendly terms with the first Dalserf Troop, carried on by Miss Hamilton and often the Troops were joined either in Stonehouse or Shawsburn.

The death of Mr Torrance in 1918 was a sad blow to Scouting and there was no Troop until 9 years later, on the insistence of some boys who had joined the 1st Larkhall Troop

The first Stonehouse Troop Boy Scouts again sprung into flourishing existence under Scout Master John Hamilton, 1st Larkhall and A.S.M. Abe Fortune. The 64 boys met in Hamilton Memorial Church Hall which alas didn’t have enough floor space and nothing but patrol work could be done. The new troop received the funds of the previous troop and P.L. Thomas McGhie was appointed senior Patrol Leader. In Feb 1928 Mr Hamilton joined the army and Mr W.D. Whitby, a member of the original troop, was offered and accepted the position of Scoutmaster. Better accommodation was secured in the hall over the bake house of Mr Hugh Hamilton, the rent of which was 1 shilling per night and this was Scout HQ until March 1929. The Troop was registered in March 1928, as 1st Stonehouse (67th Lanarkshire) Troop, registration number 18194, and the necessary warrants were applied for. In April 1928, Mr J. Gordon Cronshaw became the A.S.M. and a pack of Wolf Cubs was started under Miss Jenny Wilson, Greenside Place and Miss Nancy MacKenzie, Sidehead Cottage, and 27 boys were enrolled on 22nd June 1928. A year later there were 45 boys on the roll with an average attendance of 30. The first camp was held at Thinacre, Quarter, in May 1928 with 22 boys and they paid 2/6d. The first church parade took place to St Ninians on the 18th May 1928. The District Commissioner, Mr John Muirie bore the cost of six patrols of six boys going to the Prince of Wales Rally, at Hampden Park, Glasgow, on 30th June 1928. On 7th July, of that year, 20 boys joined the 1st Larkhall Troop for a joint camp at Gullane, which cost the Scouts £1 and the Officers £1.10/- plus the train fare, for 10 days – a cheap holiday! It was on the 27th Aug 1928 that the Local Association was first formed at a meeting held in the Lesser Public Hall with Mr Alec McIntosh as President. It was agreed to apply for the use of the Townhead School. At this time scouts Harper and Frame left for Australia and in Nov. a parade of 250 strong, including visiting Scouts, Cubs, Rovers, Guides and Rangers attended the Remembrance Day Service.

The Parish Church had an Autumn Fayre when the Elders collected bags that had been sent round the Congregation in Sep 1928. The Scouts collected parcels for the Parish Church Women’s Guild Garden Fete and later, under the instruction of Mr Disney Whitby, they are giving a gym display at the annual soiree of Hamilton Memorial Church! Mr Muirie, the District Commissioner, died in Jan 1929 and the whole Troop and Pack attended the funeral. By March 1929 the Scouts met in Townhead School at a charge of 1/6d a night, until the evening classes resumed in Sept. On the 4th April the Cheerio Concert Party raised £7.8.6d which was handed over to the Local Association as a nucleus of a hall building fund. It is interesting that what we know as Avondyke was in fact the site of a permanent camping ground of the Scouts given by Mr Gourlay of Brankston House and at this time Mr Thomas Wilson of Greenside Place gifted a bell tent and ground sheet, on condition that the Joiners Apprentices had the use of the same at Glasgow Fair time. This brought the number of tents to 3, the Scouts having bought 2 ridge tents. By Aug 1929, P.L.’s George Hamilton and Gavin Miller were among 50,000 from 40 nations celebrating the 21st anniversary of Scouting at the jamboree at Arrow Park, Birkenhead, at a charge of 12/- for the week, plus travelling, and they only made it by the skin of their teeth, since by a mighty effort they gained the first class award on the 2nd Aug and the jamboree was on the 6th!

On the 20th Aug 1929, under Scoutmaster W.D. Whitby and A.S.M.’s J.G. Cranshaw, Abe Fortune and Disney Whitby, the Scouts started the new session in the school, but by Sep meetings had to be cancelled until the new meeting place, in King Street, was made ready, which took until Oct. In that month, the A.G.M. of the Local Association indicates: Group S.M. Dr James Murray, S.M. William D. Whitby, A.S.M. A. Fortune and G. Cronshaw, with Cub Mistress Miss Jenny Wilson and A.C.M. Miss Nancy MacKenzie.

By 1932 the Guides are asking for a key of their own to get in to the hall and the G.S.M. and 2 Scouts are in trouble with the police for tramping down growing corn on West Mains Farm, and there are problems about Mr Disney Whitby’s right to wear uniform. The Guides are not to be allowed a key of their own, they must get it from the G.S.M. and they can only have one night, Wednesday, and can only be admitted on their fixed time and they must leave the hall spick and span, supply their own sticks, coal etc., pay half the rates and half the gas account, clean the floors, windows and walls etc. once a month, alternately with the Scouts.

In 1932, Mr Craig had become an enthusiastic Ass. S.M. and he is mentioned for his ability to do improvements in the hall! The Guides fail to get off paying so much and Alex Rankin, a Patrol Leader becomes Troop Treasurer. In March 1933, Mr Whitby resigns as G.S.M. and Mr Craig carries on and later becomes G.S.M. with Alec Rankin and Hugh Barton as Assistants.

In 1934, Mr Craig stresses the need for a new hall. There was a proposal to use the old school in Hill Road, and at the meeting on 27th Feb 1934, when Mr J. Plenderleith moved that ways and means be instituted to raise money for a new hall, there was no seconder!, but by the next month, Mr Mutter is on the committee and the vacant feu in Lawrie Street is mentioned. By 8th May 1934, the Guides are offering to assist in the building of the hall, and the Rovers make their contribution. A big bazaar brought £135.11.7d. By 1936 the Guides are pressing to have the hall started, and by the 2nd April, it is agreed to get on with the building, and with great regret the resignation of Mr A.M. McIntosh as President is received. He is a man who did much for Scouting in Stonehouse and becomes Hon. President.

November 1936: Opening of New Scout Hall.

Inclement weather marred to a certain extent the arranged procedure on Saturday afternoon, and the intended march round the village was curtailed. Led by the Prize Pipe band, Scouts ,

Rovers, Cubs, Rangers, Guides and Brownies, with their leaders, marched only from their temporary quarters in King Street to their new hall with proud mien as befitting the very important occasion.

T he ceremony, which was to have been held outside, took place inside the new hall owing to the weather. The Rev. T . Crow invoked a blessing on the hall and its future purpose.

Mr J. T. Plenderleith, president of the Scout Association, stated that the Local Scout Troop was formed 10 years ago, and for the past few years had temporary accommodation in King Street, generously rent free by the late Miss Thomson, to whom they felt much indebted.

They had been very happy there, but owing to expansion the accommodation became totally inadequate, and the only obvious solution was a new hall.

In two years by their efforts, they had raised over £100, but the new hall seemed a long way off, until with generous assistance, a very substantial grant had been arranged for and secured which enabled them to realise their ambition. At this time great and generous assistance came from Mr Gourlay of Brankston House. On 7th Nov 1936, the hall built by T. Hamilton and Son, is opened by Mr Gourlay.

He had very great pleasure in calling upon Mr James Gourlay to open the hall.

Mr Gourlay, in his remarks, said it was most gratifying to see such a large turnout, and admitted that he had never before seen, during the period he had been in Stonehouse, so much interest taken in any other object by the public.

He expressed the hope that they would continue to take that interest in a movement which deserved every encouragement. In a word or two to the Scouts he advised them not to regard their mer’s here only as amusement but more from the stand point of fostering character.

He sincerely hoped the hall would prove a great blessing and he had much pleasure in declaring it open.

Appropriately introduced by Mr John Millar, vice president, Miss Miller of Auchenheath House (District Commissioner of Girl Guides) took the opportunity of congratulating Miss M. Watson, Ranger captain, on her appointment as assistant camp adviser for Lanarkshire. Thereafter, she gave a survey of the aims and progress of the organisations, and expressed the hope that those present would be generous at the sale, which she now had the pleasure of opening.

Mr J.T. Plenderleith, president , intimated that the tradesmen who erected the hall intended presenting colours to the Scouts, and the intimation met with warm appreciation.

The Rev. D. McArthur moved a vote of thanks, which was heartily responded to.

As a memento of the occasion and in recognition of their services. Mr James Plenderleith presented Mr Gourlay with a fountain pen (suitably inscribed), while little Miss Margaret Scott a Brownie- presented Miss Millar with a box of chocolates.

Thereafter the stalls were busy, Rovers and Scouts had several side shows and competitions, and the following ladies were in charge of stalls;- Produce- Mrs Robert Burns, Mrs John Millar, and Miss McIntosh. Cake and Candy- were Mrs A. H.Mclean , Miss Sieveright, and Miss Watson.

Cubs provision stall-Miss Pelling, Household Stall –Miss I Thomson and Guides.

The tearoom was in charge of Mrs Robert Craig, Mrs John Jackson, and Mrs Robert Leggate, Miss Tweedie had charge of the bean tub, and a fortune-teller was kept heavily employed in the Scouts Room.

There were twenty competitors in each class for baking competitions, and the results were as follows:- Sponge made with Greens sponge mixture – 1 Mrs Oldfield, 19 Strathaven Road; 2. Mrs M Small, Camnethan Street; 3. Mrs Wardrope, Lockhart Place. Fruit cake, baked with McDougall’s self- raising flour,- 1. Mrs Wardrope, Lockhart Place; 2 Mrs Wm. Cransion, 1 Angle Street; 3 Miss May McNiven, Strathaven Road.

After the sale a dance followed, in which about fifty couples took part. Music was supplied by Logans Happy go Lucky Band.

The Rangers provided a buffet, which was well patronised during the evening.

Finishing up time came all too soon, and for everyone it was the end of a perfect day.

Much joy was given when it became known that Guides are also to be presented with Colours by Mr and Mrs Tom Wilson, Avonhaugh. As a result of the event, the amount raised was

£101-2s – 6d and the Ladies Committee return grateful thanks to all, who in any way assisted in making this day such a success.

The following links provide details of the re-dedication service, the hall opening order of service and press articles on the new hall.

iinvitation for 50th anniversary

draft speech

rededication service

Hall opening plus order of service 1937

Rededication and Presentation of Colours order of Service

Scout hall article and pictures

By the end of 1936, colours are presented by T. Hamilton and Son, while the Guides receive colours from the Wilson Firm. These are dedicated at a service in St Ninians on 31st Jan 1937. Mr Jackson makes a good deal with Paterson Church, securing 14 forms for £1, there is talk of the need for fire extinguishers. Divinity students from Trinity College are allowed to talk with various sections during a campaign. Alex Torrance praises the work of Mr Craig and suggests that he should get a Medal of Merit. By Sep 1937, the last £50, of the £600 hall cost, is paid to the contractors, and the Local Association is in trouble for failure to pay £2.0.6d for 2 Scouts attending the Coronation. Later they get their £2.0.6d, but the Local Association demands an apology from the County Secretary for his mis-management.

Andrew Graham resigns as secretary and John Jackson agrees to act. The Physical Culture class is in trouble for not leaving the hall clean and tidy, and the Guides are objecting to pay so much of the coal bill, since the Culture Class has used most of it! George Hamilton becomes Secretary in 1939, John Miller succeeds J. Plenderleith as President of the Local Association, the Rangers are allowed to hold a cooking class in the Rovers Den and the Guides are in trouble for making a noise in the street following a Halloween Party.

By 1940, George Hamilton is called up to the forces and John Jackson takes on again the secretary post, while the patrol leaders are willing to see the Cubs home in the blackout.

Mr Whitelaw becomes Scout Master.

Scout attendances declined until they were disbanded in the late 1980 early 1990, however in May 2014 a new group has been formed and it is hoped that interest and scout leader dedication will keep them alive for future generations.

The following gallery provides an overview of the scouts in Stonehouse from their early beginnings.