1st Crawley History

1st Crawley Scout Group can trace its history right back to the earliest days of the Scouting movement.  Now in our second century of existence, here is some of that rich history, both old and more recent.

Early Years

Scout Camp, Crawley Troop, Three Bridges, Crawley, c.1915
Crawley Troop camp at Three Bridges, c.1915
Credit: West Sussex Past Pictures (County Library Service)
www.westsussexpast.org.uk

Scouting in Crawley started very soon after the 1907 start of UK Scouting with Crawley Village Scout Troop which eventually changed its name to 1st Crawley. They had a tin hut in Victoria Road in West Green and were there until some time in the 1960s.

Crawley Scout Troup, Buchan Park, Crawley, 1946
Ernest Stanford (in shorts) and General Dempsey speak with some scouts in 1946, most probably at Stanfords Campsite.
Credit: West Sussex Past Pictures (County Library Service)
www.westsussexpast.org.uk

The original scoutmaster of Crawley Village Troop is remembered in the name of ‘Stanford’ – our local campsite built on land which was donated to the Scouting Association.

Later, a larger hut previously used by the RAF was erected on the current location in Oak Road, Southgate. The eight houses that were there previously were destroyed in WWII by a doodlebug (7 people were killed and 40 wounded) and the land had been left empty ever since. Opposite the houses was a joinery company that was making items for the war department so perhaps the Germans were aiming for that.
The move to Oak Road and the larger hut coincided with a merger with 3rd Crawley Scout Group, whose GSL (Mr Burke) was in charge of erecting the hut.
The old RAF hut is the one we still use today and although the interior has been changed around a bit since it was built, it’s still in great shape and we love it.

Oak Road in 1909, showing the 8 houses formerly on the site
1st Crawley Scouts in 1974 with the current scoutmaster in middle centre. Left rear is GSL Reg Griggs and 3rd from right rear is SL Eric Jenner.

The Group continued right until 2003 when a lack of leaders forced it to close it’s doors. 

Rebirth

1st Crawley was revived in 2011 by the efforts of Eddy Hills, then District Commisioner and GSL John Yarlett. We were also very lucky to have the old hut and the surrounding land completely renovated by over 80 volunteers in one day. 

In July 2013 we were awarded the prestigious Cornwell Shield by Crawley District Scouts for the outstanding progress we made in the previous year.

In 2018 1st Crawley took full ownership of our old hut. Before then the hut was owned and managed by West Sussex County Scouts for the Scouting Association. Now the full responsibility for our headquarters is in the hands of our own 1st Crawley Executive Committee who make sure the bills are paid, maintenance work is carried out and that the whole place is safe and fit for purpose.
We hold regular DIY days when all of our young people and their families spend a few hours fixing, mending, gardening and painting to keep our HQ in tip-top condition.

We have gone from strength to strength since 2011 and now have over 70 members and 10 leaders. We have lots of parental help when we need it and everyone in the Group gets together regularly for camps, parties, special events and hikes.