Echoes of the past: Early days of Brighouse Scouts

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Robert Baden Powell was only a young Cavalry officer during the Boer War in South Africa and it was during this military service that he gave thought to starting a movement that would involve the young people back home.

His idea was to promote good citizenship amongst boys - it was an instant hit with the youngsters.

This was to become what we now know as the scout movement and was offically founded in 1908.

It soon caught on here in Brighouse, when a group of choirboys at St James’s Church badgered the Reverend EI Mack to start a troop offically.

In 1910 the Brighouse church troop became the 3rd Elland and in 1911 George Crowther was appointed as Scoutmaster and the Reverend Oscar Sydney Laurie was appointed its first Chaplain.

George Crowther was a Second-Lieut in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and was killed in action on June 28 1917, he was 25 years old.

He had joined the forces on September 1 1914 and had gone out with the 1/4th Duke of Wellington’s to France in April 1915 and in the August had been wounded.

He was recommended for a commission which was granted to him in November 1915 and attached to his old regiment.

He went to France a second time in March 1916 and was in the great push at the Somme in the July. He was invalided home after this battle with septic poisoning in his foot. In the September he went for a third time and was home on leave the following January.

Sec-Lieut Crowther had a life-long connection with Brighouse Church and Schools.

He was a teacher at St James’s and was general secretary for the Sunday Schools, a sides-man at the Parish Church and prominent in church work generally.

He formed a patrol of Boy Scouts in 1910 which was merged into the Laurie Command and was given his warrant by the District Organising Scoutmaster in July 1911.

Not only was George killed in France during the war but four old boys were also killed.

I am sure many some old Brighouse Scouts will remember those weekend camps on the Wellholme Estate and in later years when it became Wellholme Park. Or can you remember the annual seaside trip off?

In this photograph are a small group the Brighouse Scouts that went to Conway which was a frequent venue for their outings.

It wasn’t long before the rapidly expanding Brighouse Scout group was on the lookout for newer and larger premises.

Interestingly they found a new home at Vista Bellisimo, that quaint castle looking property in Brighouse Wood Lane.

In 1913 the group was renamed Laurie Command after its former Chaplain the Reverend Oscar Sydney Laurie who had succeeded Reverend Phipps on September 17 1901 at the Brighouse Parish Church.

The old Laurie command suffered with a fall in membership during the 1930s just as every other organisation had done at that time and again not long later during the Second World War.

Today, the Scout movement still thrives in Brighouse but like all other organisations is always looking for new members and leaders to carry on the principals of good citizenship as they were first laid down by Baden Powell.