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Baden Powell Reserve

Inside the Scout hall - circa 1960

An early history by Alan Taylor

A neighbour of mine, Bernie Barnard and I, after being friends for a number of years discovered that we had both been boy members of the Petersham Scout Group in Sydney at different times. Both of our sons were now approaching Cub age and we thought we would start a Scout troop. We both lived at Como although Bernie had bought some land in Mt Pleasant and this led to a decision to start our new troop in that just opening suburb.

A Mr Honey was secretary for the South Perth District and we obtained information and help from him, followed by an interview with the Chief Commissioner, Colonel Wilson. His main concern was to discover whether we might be some dreaded Communists trying to infiltrate the Movement and he paid scant attention to whatever other attributes we might have. Following this we went for a period of training to different troops, Bernie to 120th South Perth with Stan Tijou, and myself to 20th South Perth with Charles Cocks.

The District Commissioner George Ferguson who was S.M. of Wesley Troop also had an interest in our training. When we were ready to launch the new troop we could not discover any meeting facilities at Mt Pleasant, however the R.S.L. at Applecross were cooperative and made their hall in Kintail Road available for our first meetings. The pending troop scarf then became a topic of debate. Bernie and I had selected a blue scarf which was our old troop Petersham`s colour, plus a red border, the colour of apples. The D.C. George Ferguson did not agree. We were to be part of the South Perth District and their background colour for scarves always had been and always would be black, so black it was with a tiny triangle of blue to remember its mentor Petersham.

Charles Hamilton had now become the new D.C. of South Perth. He was also the principal of Applecross Primary school. This was a great help when the troop was launched in February 1952 as he encouraged boys at his school to join.

The first night was a great success with about a dozen turning up to enrol. Brian Illingworth plus Davidson became the first troop leaders. Amongst the other recruits were Bob Jones, Roger Wardell-Johnston and others.

The R.S.L hall was small and limited our activities so Charles Hamilton offered us the use of the School shelter shed. It was not fitted with electric light and well before the meetings started, someone would need to spend some time getting the kerosene operated Tilley lamps to work, sometimes frustrating as one of us struggled to get them hot with enough pressure up to light plus being surrounded by arriving boys with questions like, "Will I be able to do one of my second class tests tonight"

Alan Jones, the State Secretary discovered that there were a few £`s and a small amount of gear being held from the defunct Canning Bridge troop. This was passed over to us and helped greatly with getting started.

Meetings in the shelter shed were great fun and games could be held in the school playing area. Even on cold winter nights everyone enjoyed the fun and training. Camps or day long excursions were held every month. One of our favoured campsites was at Bull Creek, owned by the District. Enterence was made by a sandy track along what is now Leach Highway. It was better in winter when it was wet and nearly impassable in summer when the hungry dry sand bogged the vehicles down. The site is now covered with luxury homes.

Another favourite campsite was at Wungong Brook a few hundred yards in from the highway. The combination of water, bush and hills were excellent for playing wide games. Gilwill at Kelmscott was also used on some occasions however in the main we preferred the freedom of the other campsites.

A few months after the troop was started, some boys wanted to bring their young brothers. Fortuitously, Murray Hamilton then appeared and offered his services as Cubmaster. He soon found an assistant, Lila Lewis and the Pack quickly filled up.

Pressure now mounted for the Group to have its own premises and we set about finding a site. A search of the block map located an unusual block that had been made by poor surveying near Canning highway. The Shire Council were very cooperative and it was leased on a peppercorn rental for twenty years. A strong parents committee had been formed, chaired by Bob Spargo with support from Charles Cowden and Don Chipper. Funds were raised and a prefabricated farm building was purchased for £1,250. This did not include the timber flooring and a levy of threepence a week was made on the weekly subscriptions. To purchase this material, Bert Negus at Bunnings managed to get us the flooring at a reduced price providing we took delivery straight away. This huge load of timber was then stored out of the weather in the partly built hall. What problems it caused as we continually shuffled it around to gain access to whatever other part of the construction that was in hand at the time.

Bricks were needed for the floor piers and the toilet block. A spate of house building was going on in the area and it was thought that there would be surplus bricks on the housing sites, so we had a brick drive. Calls were made and sufficient bricks were donated for the purpose.

Allan Eddy who owned the local hardware store helped locate some of the material that was needed and many other fathers contributed time and money.

There was a good roll up at the commencement of the construction, however by the time we were ready to lay the flooring the initial enthusiasm had waned. Bob Spargo came up with a bright idea to bring our labour force back to the job. He put on a five gallon keg of beer! Nevertheless floor laying flagged although at times, it took of without our knowledge, then we discovered that the men of the Congregational church were coming to the hall at night and laying some of the timbers.

As soon as we were able, the troop and pack moved into their new premises without the place ever having an official opening ceremony. With a growing boy population, it was soon being used to capacity.

After a while, I moved to the newly created job od South Metro Area Commissioner and Len Mortlock became G.S.M for a short time, to be followed by an English migrant, Bill Allen, whose family also filled many other jobs in the Applecross Group.

May this Group which has touched on so many young lives, continue to serve the youth of the future.



Summary of significant events

1951 - Group formation
The Scout Group was formed by Major Allan Taylor (OAM) (1) and Bernie Barnard in 1951 with the first meeting held in February 1952. The Scout hall was to be located in Mt Pleasant, hence the proposed plans being titled `Proposed scheme for Boy Scouts Hall, Mt Pleasant`. As no suitable land was available in Mt Pleasant, the Group initially used the RSL Hall in Applecross and the Applecross Primary School outdoor shelter.

1953 - Baden Powell Reserve
As the Group grew, there was pressure to have their own premises and they relocated to the current Baden Powell Reserve site (Swan location 61, Lot 323 on plan 5059). `A search of the block map located an unusual block that had been made by poor surveying near Canning Highway`. The Melville Shire were very cooperative and a 20 year lease at a peppercorn rate was signed on 11 July 1953.

1953 - New Scout hall

Architectural plans
The proposed Scout Hall Plans were drawn by Milton James Boyce (2). Milton was the Scout Association Western Australian Branch, Honorary Architect and designed many Scout Halls in his long career.

Hall construction
Funds were raised and a prefabricated farm building purchased from Bouchers Industries for £1,250. This did not include the timber flooring so a levy of threepence a week was made on the weekly subscriptions. `Bert Negus at Bunnings managed to get us flooring at a reduced rate provided we took delivery straight away`. There is anecdotal evidence that the hall was constructed using recycled steel from the Fremantle anti-submarine and Cockburn Sound anti-boat hurdle scaffolding, however to date, there is no hard evidence.

Other construction materials
Bricks for the floor piers and toilet block were the result of a `Brick drive´. Surplus bricks were donated from local housing sites. Allan Eddy (OAM), owner of Eddy`s Hardware at Canning Bridge and a Melville Councillor (1954-1958), helped to locate building materials and other fathers contributed time and money.

Parent and community involvement
`There was a good roll up at the commencement of construction, however by the time we were ready to lay the flooring the initial enthusiasm had waned. Bob Spargo came up with a bright idea to bring our labour force back to the job. He put on a 5 gallon keg of beer! Nevertheless flooring laying flagged although at times it took off without our knowledge, then we discovered that the men of the Congregational Church were coming to the hall at night and laying some of the timbers`

Last sentence from Alan Taylor `May this Group which has touched on so may young lives continue to serve the youth of the future

1970 - Tubular steel support artwork `Totem poles`
The hall 4.5 inch diameter tubular steel supports steel were painted as totem poles during Friday night Scout meetings in 1970 or 1971. The project was instigated by the Scout Leader, Bill Hunter (3). Other notable people were Scouts during this period(4).

1965 - Senior Scout hall (Venturer Den)
The Group resolved to build a Venturer Den (then Senior Scout Hall) at a special committee meeting on Monday 24 May 1965. Three quotes were received between £1,150-1,530. The committee decided to sub-contract the build themselves with an expected cost of £900.

1992 - Hall refurbishment
The Group resolved to refurbish the Scout hall and Venturer Den at a special committee meeting on 18 May 1992. With the assistance of a Lotteries Commission Grant, original asbestos cladding was replaced with Colourbond steel sheeting and both buildings generally refurbished (5). The refurbished hall was opened on Saturday, 8 May 1993 by Alan Taylor (OAM).

2021 - Current condition
The Scout hall and Venturer den are in very good condition. Recent additions and refurbishments include the installation of solar panels and battery, reverse cycle air-conditioning, NBN connection, new storage cupboards, enclosure of the loft and kitchen renovation.

Notes:

  1. Major Alan Delpah Taylor was awarded an OAM in 1981 for service to Scouting
  2. Milton Boyce and his wife Marjorie came to Western Australia in January 1937. He was the Perth City architect involved the design of the Beatty Park Aquatic Centre for the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1962.
  3. Sergeant William John Leslie Hunter. Bill started with the Group early 1970 after recent Vietnam war service with 3rd Special Air Service Squadron. 
  4. Tim and Andrew Farriss who later formed the music group INXS were members of the Group. Tim, as a Scout, would have participated in the totem pole artwork. Their father, Dennis Farriss was an active committee member from 1966 to March 1971 when he was transferred to Sydney. Dennis also served as President and Treasurer during that period.
  5. Ronnie Branch-Smith and Mike Branch-Smith were instrumental to the 1992 refurbishment.

Scout hall plans

The Scout hall was erected by Bouchers Industries at a cost of £1,250. The jarrah timber flooring was supplied by Bunning Bros, while other materials were donated. Parents and community members completed the building.

Venturer Den plans

At a special committee meeting on Monday 24 May 1965, it was decided to build a Senior Scout hall (Venturer Den) with a budget of £900.

Other buildings

 

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