Less than a year after the birth of
Scouting in 1908, Mr. Eric Barratt, the son of the then
Vicar of Claygate, held the first meetings of a Claygate
Scout Troop. 1st Claygate, registered with
headquarters on 6th October 1909, is the oldest Group in
the Kingston area and still wears its original colour
From 1909 until at least 1915 the
Claygate Troop, under the leadership of Eric Barratt met
in the old Church Hall. The first summer camp was held
at Stokes Farm, Oxshott in 1910, and in 1911, the Troop
attended the first Scout Rally, held in Windsor Great
Park at which King George V took the salute. The Troop
is reputed to have travelled to the Rally by river boat
The first overseas trip took place in
1913 when the Claygate Troop camped in Holland at The
Hague, travelling from Harwich to Rotterdam in a cattle
boat, taking all their camping gear with them. This was
the first occasion that British Scouts had camped in
that country, although others had done so previously but
had slept in billets. The cost of the two week camp in
Holland was £1 10s 0d.
Mr Tom Barnfield, a founder member of
the Group, was appointed Assistant Scoutmaster on his
return from active service during the First World War in
which he was seriously wounded and in 1919 he was
appointed Scoutmaster. He also became the Group
Scoutmaster when Groups were formed in 1925. He was to
continue as Group Scoutmaster and Scoutmaster until his
retirement in 1970.
On 9th February 1921 a Cub Pack was
formed with Miss Dorothy Barnfield, sister of Mr Tom
Barnfield, as Cub Mistress, a position she was to hold
until her retirement in 1970.
Between 1920 and 1924 the Group held
its meetings on the site of the present Christian
Science Church in Hare Lane. The first headquarters of
our own was an ex-army wooden building erected by the
parents in 1924 on a piece of land in Stevens Lane
leased from the nearby brickfield. This was to remain
our headquarters until it was dismantled in 1957 when
land at the end of Station Road was purchased (freehold
for £400) and was our headquarters until 2006. Meetings
were first held there in February 1960 and the site was
officially opened on 13th July the same year.
Scout shows were held regularly
during the 1920s and 1930s often held in the Lantern
Hall in Common Road or the Comrades (British Legion)
In the years between the wars, the
Troop camped on many occasions at the Surrey County
Rally held at the Whitsun week-end on Ranmore Common; on
one occasion they met Lord Baden-Powell. The only
methods of transport used to get boys and equipment to
these camps were cycle and trek-cart. A Rover Crew,
formed in the 1920s with Eric Barratt as the Rover Crew
Leader, was very active in local and district Scouting
until its abandonment at the outbreak of the Second
The Group continued its activities
during the war on a somewhat reduced scale, but still
held regular Summer Camps although not travelling so far
afield as previously. In the late 1940s the Group
appointed its first Group Committee and Supporters
Committee with responsibility for the financial and
other ‘non – uniformed’ affairs of the Group.
The first post war World Jamboree was
held in 1947 in northern France and Dennis Bristow, a
member of the Troop was selected to join the Kingston
District Group of the Surrey contingent. In 1948 the
Kingston Scouting District was split to form four
independent Districts and thus 1st Claygate became one
of the original Groups of the Esher District.
In 1969 the services of Mr Tom
Barnfield and Miss Dorothy Barnfield were recognised in
the Chief Scout’s St. George’s Day Awards by their
receipt of the Silver Wolf and Silver Acorn
respectively. The Scout Association’s two highest awards
for service. A year later they retired from Scouting and
Mr Jeremy Salter was appointed Group Scout Leader.
Under the enthusiastic leadership of
Jem Salter the Group expanded rapidly in numbers and
activities. A second cub pack was formed in 1971 and a
third in 1972. The substantial increase in the size of
the Group necessitated the headquarters being extended
and in 1975 two training rooms and an equipment store
were added to the building. In 1975 the Venture Unit was
formed followed by the Service Crew in 1977 and the
Scout Active Support Unit in 2009.
The first of the ‘modern’ Group Shows
in 1975 was masterminded by Jem Salter and his Assistant
Group Scout Leader Ken Mallery. The success of this
event led to the staging of Group Shows every two or
three years up to the present time.
The first minibus was purchased by
the Group – an elderly ex- Age Concern ambulance, in
1979. This was replaced in 1982 by a more modern vehicle
at the cost of £2,500. Also in 1982 a garage was donated
to the Group and this was erected in the grounds for use
as a canoe store and by 1986 the Group had acquired 10
canoes. Canoeing and sailing remain popular and other
Scout and Explorer Scout activities include caving and
In 1986 the Scout Troop took 28 boys
to Norway under the leadership of Eoin Redahan which
included one week at a Norwegian National Sea Scout
jamboree at Grimstad, near Kristiansand with some 600
Norwegian Sea Scouts. The Christmas Postal Delivery
within the Claygate Parish boundaries was set up in 1985
to raise funds for ‘Operation Norway’ and has continued
every December since that time.
In 1984 Jem Salter was awarded the
Silver Acorn, but in 1985 due to work pressures he stood
down as Group Scout leader after 15 years building up
the Group until it was the largest in the Esher District
and County of Surrey. John Baldwin then became the third
Group Scout Leader in over seventy five years of
unbroken Scouting in Claygate.
In June 1986 the first Beaver Colony
– Maple was started for 6 – 8 year olds with 24 members.
Their programme was based on the motto ‘Fun & Friends’.
In 1987 the Venture Unit went to
Iceland to explore and map a previously uncharted
underground lava cave complex. The terrain was extremely
rugged and desolate but the members of the expedition
completed their task and also discovered a previously
unknown cave which they named after their Unit –
Selachii. They were given much help by the Young
Explorers Trust of Great Britain, and were presented
with an award by the Trust in relation to their survey
of the caves.
Following the success of the 1986
Norwegian Camp, the Group hosted the 7th Kristiansand
Troop from Norway in 1988 and some 136 Scouts, Venture
Scouts, Norwegian Scouts, Leaders and local Claygate and
Hinchley Wood Guides and Rangers joined together for a
superb camp of multi-outdoor activities at Staverton,
Devon. The Norwegian Scouts were given home hospitality
in Claygate which included two days of London trips.
Due to the popularity of the Beavers
a second Colony named Sycamore was formed in 1989, and a
new activity for the Group – the 1st Claygate Scout Band
- was started in the autumn. This proved very popular
and in 1991 the Band achieved its first major
achievement winning the Novice Class at the Kingston
Youth Band Competition at Tolworth with an average age
The Group returned to Norway in 1990
enjoying home hospitality with 7th Kristiansand as well
as joining a Sea Scout Jamboree of some 1,100 at Risor
In 1992 there was a second Norwegian return visit and an
excellent camp including 40 of our Troop to
Appletreewick in the Yorkshire Dales.
Tom Barnfield had held the post of
Group President from 1971 until his death in 1980 and in
1993 the Group Scoutmaster, John Baldwin invited Jem
Salter to take up this appointment – a post that he
Mark Brittle, a member of the Venture
Unit attended the 1995 World Jamboree in the Netherlands
as one of the two representatives of the Esher District.
He was later given home hospitality in Denmark and at
the same time twenty Japanese Scouts who had also been
attending the Jamboree were hosted in Claygate. The
visitors spent a week in the village and were taken on
several trips to London and other places of interest.
Also in 1995 the Venture Unit organised their Summer
expedition to go mountain walking in the Czech Republic.
The Band continued to build on its
success and attended many Group and District events as
well as taking part in National Competitions. Ann
Etheridge, the founding Bandmaster resigned in 1995 and
was replaced by Ian White and later in 1997 Daraius
Master became the Bandmaster.
In 1999 the group marked its 90th
Anniversary with a variety of events : a Group Show, a
Group Camp with firework display, Anniversary Dinner,
publication of ‘The Group’- a history of 1st Claygate
Scout Group, and a Service of Dedication at Holy Trinity
Church as well as photographs of all the Group Sections
And so to the new millennium. Mark
Aulds succeeded John Baldwin as Group Scout Leader in
March 2000. The Claygate Scout & Guide Band reformed in
2001 under the expert direction of bandmaster
Robin Wilkinson, and a Group Show
“Around the World in 95 Years” was staged in March 2004.
To cope with a boom in numbers in 2003 Jaguar Cub Pack
was closed and Oak Colony began, followed by the opening
of Lynx Pack in 2007 to cope with the ripple which
included the intake of girls from January 2007.
After many years of planning the
Group moved to its present site at the Claygate Scout
Centre in Oaken Lane in January 2006 with the official
opening performed by the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey Mrs
Sarah Goad on Saturday 4th March 2006 in the presence of
the Chief Scout Peter Duncan, members of the Group and
many other local dignitaries. In February 2008 Mark
Aulds was succeeded as Group Scout Leader by Hugh
Gostling who had led the Scout Troop for 21 years until
The Group celebrated its centenary in
2009 and there is a display of images and text
describing this on show on the wall of the balcony at
the Scout Centre. Also worthy of note is the celebration
of ten years of the Scout and Guide Band which was
highlighted by a performance to thousands lining the
street of Disneyland Paris in October 2011.
2014 was a year of international
travel for Explorers who went to India to do voluntary
work and Scouts who went to Kanderstag in Switzerland.
2015 was momentous for a the Band playing at the St
George’s Day parade in Windsor and celebrating 15 years
with a trip to play in the Disney New Year’s Eve parade.
In 2016 the Group celebrated 100
years of Cub scouting with special events including
Carols around the Campfire during which all Cubs renewed
Over the years many Scouting honours have been
awarded to members of the Group and the 1st Claygate
Scout Group continues to be one of the largest and most
successful, providing boys and girls with exciting and
appropriate activities whilst upholding the fundamental
principles of Scouting.