Across the UK, young people have been busy scouting since 1907. Ever since, the lives of young people have become better prepared.
1907 was the date that Scouting’s founder, Robert Baden Powell, ran his first experimental camp on Brownsea Island, just down the coast in Dorset. Based on his success, he went on to write the best selling Scouting for Boys in January 1908 and from there the movement grew massively.
Scouting is built on strong values which still prove to be the foundations to the movement today. You can find out more about Scouting’s founder in the video below:
What about Testwood?
Our own group can not claim to have existed as long as that, but the origins of the group can be traced back to the 1930s.
The first group that would eventually evolve into the one you see today was the 22nd Romsey (Testwood) Scout group. They started on the 15th June 1937 and was based in the church buildings of the newly built St. Winifred’s church on Salisbury Road. The church itself sponsored the group and as such the group changed its name to St. Winifred’s soon after. The Second World War proved a temporary halt to proceedings but the group reformed on the 12th August 1945 without the church’s sponsorship. The group carried on as before but as the group grew it became harder to balance the needs of the church which the group called home and the needs of the young people.
This eventually resulted in the group changing on the 1st June 1962 to become the 23rd Romsey (Testwood) Scout group, separate from the church and instead sponsored by Dr. Peter Johnson, the Romsey District Commissioner. They were based originally at nearby Testwood School, but moved after a year. Their new base was a plot of land at the end of Cheam Way, next to the recreation ground, where an ex-Army barrack room was built by the group and opened on 27th April 1963 by Group Scout Leader Gordon Garland and Hampshire County Councillor Mr. J. V. Stitchcomb.
The group finally had a scout HQ of their own and just in time for Scouting to modernise, but after a while it was clear that the building couldn’t serve the group for too long – it was getting too small for the group and as the building was all timber, and had been reassembled from a former location, future repairs were going to be costly. Fundraising therefore began for a new headquarters: the Antler Bingo Club was formed and a huge team of dedicated parents and supporters worked hard to raise enough for the planning and construction of the building. At the same time, the Calmore estate was being developed and New Forest District Council agreed to lease us the section of land that is still our home. Our old headquarters were sold to the Jehovah’s Witness Church who renovated it and used it up until replaced with their current building.
With the lease secured and some funds already raised, all of the groups efforts were put into securing the new building. Thousands of pounds were raised and more money was obtained through grants from Hampshire County Council and others and even through loans from supporters. Parents, scouts and leaders all sponsored a brick for the new hut, and made their mark. When we finally had the money needed, Scout officers, leaders as well as parents and supporters worked alongside a variety of builders, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, decorators and general laborers to get the base completed. The newly finished Garland Lodge, named in honour of Gordon Garland who had been so pivotal to the group, was opened on 21 November 1978 by Hampshire County Scout Commissioner John Durban.
Five years later, on the 1st March 1983, the group changed as the Romsey Scout District changed too. The district had expanded for several years and was becoming too large to easily look after. As a result the Scout groups in Totton, Copythorne and Netley Marsh broke away and, along with Lyndhurst scout group (which had previously been part of the Ringwood Scout District), formed the District of New Forest North of which Testwood became the 5th New Forest North (Testwood) Scout Group.
Scouting has changed over the past few years almost beyond recognition but we still keep some of those fundamental values and traditions that make us who we are. We welcomed Beaver Scouts to the family of Scouting in 1986 and we’ve welcomed girls to the group since the 1990s. In the new millennium we’ve changed as Scouting itself has adapted and changed with updated uniform, modern programmes and more opportunities for nights away than ever before. We’ve adapted to be online, grown again over the past 10 years to include more young people and welcomed more backgrounds with updates to things like our promise.
Today, Scouting is all about learning useful skills that will stay with them for life and making new friends, just like in 1907. We look forward to the future and its new challenges including moving in 2021 to our current district as New Forest North and New Forest West to become one bigger New Forest district. As such, our name simplified to 5th Testwood Scout Group but the adventure remains.
This page is based upon the recollections of Derek Stevens and Nigel Garland, former members of this group.
You can find out more about the Scouts’ history on the Scouts’ website.
Some other times we’ve appeared in the papers: