It is well known that Baden Powell set up the first scouting camp in England in Aug 1907 and it was from this beginning that Scouting developed and it was not long afterwards that Stretford had its first group who called themselves First Longford Boy Scouts. This was formed by William Ernest Gregson in 1908. They established themselves in the Union Church Sunday School on Edge Lane and stayed there until they moved to the Shippon in Longford Park in 1912 which has remained their home ever since.
In March 1909 Longford had joined a newly formed Manchester District Boy Scout Association, and early Troops in Stretford became members of various Divisions under the control of the Manchester Association. Some were in South Manchester, others in Chorlton. In April 1911, the Chief Scout, Sir Robert Baden Powell, accompanied by the Lord Major of Manchester visited the Longford Headquauters in Union Church school rooms.
In the same year and presumably to cater for the demands for “Scouting” from younger boys a training squad for boys 7 to 11 was started. This experiment continued until the Wolf Cub Packs were introduced in 1915.
1st Camp in Lyme Road Stretford
Longford was not the only ones formed in early days as can be noted by the formation of Gorse Hill 1912, Old Trafford St Johns 1913, Henshaw’s 1914, St Brides and Dynamo Rovers 1917. Also Trafford Park must have been formed in this period most likely before Nov 1914. Obviously in a period of over 100 years a number of groups have been formed, amalgamated and closed in response to local demands and needs.
In 1914, shortly after the war started, an attempt was made to form a Division in Stretford and this was formally brought into being at a meeting held on 3rd November 1914 at the headquarters of the Gorse Hill Troop.
The original members of the Stretford District were 1st Longford, 1st Gorse Hill, 1st Stretford, 1st Old Trafford St John’s, Cornbrook, 1st Trafford Park and Talbot. 1st Stretford, not to be confused with 1st Stretford (Longford) closed in 1916 and nothing further is known of Cornbrook or Talbot.
In 1916 and application for Stretford to become a separate Association was turned down, but pressure continued and ultimately permission was given. The first meeting as an Association took place on 29th January 1918 at the Public Hall on Talbot Road.
In those early days the uniform for Scouts consisted of a large hat, scarf, shorts, belt, stockings, haversack, staff and a shoulder knot. A total cost of 17 shillings and 6 pence (87.5p). The charge made by the Association for entering for a proficiency badge was 1 penny (0.5p) per head per entry.
We can only give a flavour of the activities in this brief history save to mention camps, trekking, swimming galas, canoeing, rock climbing, the Gang shows, athletic sports days. All during this period parents and friends carried out fund raising activities such as jumble sales, raffles, sponsored events, gala days, bob-a-job, paper collecting, bedding plants, race nights to name a few.
The activities and badge work has evolved to keep pace with the wishes and demands of the young people joining the organisation. Similarly the methods by which we fund raise have also evolved. The mix of activities and fundraising have lead to a good community spirit that continues to this day.
In recent years the scouting movement has expanded so that in 1985 the Beaver Section was formed to cater for boys between 6 and 8 years of age. Also, not only does it cater boys but girls are now welcome into the movement such that all young people may benefit from exposure to new experiences and challenges.
(With acknowledgement to Roy Fordham who wrote the publication “A History of Stretford Scouting 1908 – 1996”.)