History of the British Boy Scouts
In 1910 out of 150,000 Boy Scouts in the UK, 50,000 were British Boy Scouts spread out in almost every major town in the Kingdom. Therefore you would have had a good chance of meeting a Scout from the BBS. Even after the Edwardian years after the BBS had shrunk in size, the BBS were represented strongly in various areas of the country; South London 1909-1945, Gloucestershire 1909-1971, Nottinghamshire 1926-1936, Yorkshire 1926-1967. From the period between the two world wars to the present day, if you came across a BBS Troop, the main thing you would notice is that it was attached to a Church and that indeed the Church formed a good part of its programme, almost as if it were, a uniformed Christian Fellowship. Apart from that, the differences in the activities of BBS troops and the Boy Scouts' Association troops were minimal. The BBS had developed as a Church based organisation but never restricted to any single denomination yet in each location it was a full and active part of Church life.
From 1926 until 1971 the biggest inspiration within the BBS came from Percy Herbert Pooley. Mr Pooley had joined as a Scoutmaster in 1911 becoming the Chief Commissioner in 1926. Pooley was a Christian of missionary outlook as well as being a Scout and he combined the two in the development of the movement. Mr Pooley developed and expanded Troops in South London and in Gloucestershire and promoted the starting of troops elsewhere. Through the work of the BBS & BGS hundreds of boys and girls were won to Christ. The work has continued and the BBS & BGS can be found in such places as South London, Lydbrook, Norwich, Liverpool and Birmingham. The number of Troops throughout the BBS & BGS's history may have not been large but the influence of the BBS & BGS on young lives has been enormous, producing men and women who have gone on to serve the Community in all manner of ways.
How Did the BBS Start?
The beginnings of the BBS took place within the debate that was current among the uniformed Edwardian youth movements - the debate about the influence of militarism. Because of the feared militarism of the Boys' Brigade with its military drill and dummy rifles the Boys' Life Brigade was started. In the same way the Troops forming the Scout district of Battersea formed the British Boy Scouts. In the early period of scouting (1908-1914) there existed various Scouting organisations, usually within other movements such as the Boys' Brigade and the Church Lads' Brigade. The London Diocese, the Salvation Army and the Young Men's Christian Association also sponsored troops. So the existence of another Scout organisation was not new. Most of these organisations either joined the Boy Scouts' Association (the Salvation Army Life Scouts being the last in 1947) or dropped Scouting from their programme (such as the Boys' Brigade and the Church Lad's Brigade). The BBS however continued as a separate organisation.
The Edwardian Years 1909-1914
The formation of the BBS early 1909, owes itself to those who were discontented over the emerging organisation and were disgruntled with the bureaucracy of the Scout Headquarters and alleged overt influence from the National Service League (A pressure group canvassing Parliament for compulsory Military Conscription). H Moore secretary of the Battersea Scouts writes to HQ "the brief statement of our grievances is this that the B-P Boy Scouts as at present administrated is run on such lines and is intimately connected with other schemes so foreign to the spirit of the movement we feel we are unable to remain in it" May 7th 1909. The official launch date of the BBS was Empire Day 24th May 1909. The Battersea Scouts had experienced the Baden-Powell Scout Headquarters as an autocratic administration and had seceded. There was no direct argument with Baden-Powell, who was at that time absorbed with his full time career as a soldier, but with Archibald Kyle, his Boy Scout Manager. The first President of the newly formed British Boy Scouts was Colonel Keyser. The leading figure, financier and founder was Chief Commissioner, Major W G Whitby.
Four Ingate Place, Queen's Road, Battersea became the new organisation's headquarters. The BBS had enlisted the support of Cassell and Company publishers and from June 1909 until the middle of 1911 a weekly page on the BBS appeared in CHUMS, a boys paper and one of Cassell's publications. Cassell & Co. had previously sought to launch their own scout scheme, but with little success. In September 1907 CHUMS had covered B-P's experimental Camp and had reported that an experimental corps was to be formed by Baden-Powell. In February 1908 a CHUMS reader had written in to say he had read B-P's 'Scouting for Boys' and was interested in forming a Scout Patrol. In the following edition the Editor said he would discuss with Baden-Powell, the request of several CHUMS readers to form the 'CHUMS league of Scouts'. The next edition published an article on the Brownsea Island Camp with a promise of more information on the CHUMS league of Scouts. Nothing further appeared on Scouting until June of 1909 when the Editor reported that the CHUMS Patrols were still going strong and that a scheme was being launched to draw the various CHUMS Patrols into closer union. The proposed scheme for this 'closer union' was the national launching of the BBS through the pages of CHUMS as a definite peace movement (June 21st 1909). Thus the BBS incorporated the CHUMS Scout Patrols founded in February 1908.
The direction of the Boy Scout movement was also a concern of Baden-Powell's London Commissioner, Sir Francis Vane, who had corresponded with 'The Times' newspaper early 1909, arguing for the pacifist nature of the Scouts and refuting the fact that they were military. Such was his conviction, that he had brought the Cadbury's and other eminent Quakers into the movement. The BBS became reconciled through Sir Francis' mediation as an affiliated organisation to the B-P Scouts (as were such as the London Diocesan Boy Scout Corps). In October 1909 a Conference was held amongst all the Boy Scouts organisations, at which it was agreed that the B-P training tests of 1909 would become the standard tests. Sir Francis had also been concerned about the relationship of the Headquarters staff with the Scoutmasters in the various London districts, and sought to bring about greater democracy in the organisation. Vane's attempts at creating a democratic organisation brought him into conflict with Baden-Powell's Headquarters' staff who held a meeting on the 12th November 1909 and abolished his post. A protest was called by the London Scoutmasters on the 16th September at which B-P was present. Vane defended his record and secured a vote of 198-2 in his favour proving his popularity. At a further meeting of the London Secretaries, B-P promised to rescind the letter abolishing Vane's post, but on the 22nd November 1909 sent a letter to Vane sacking him. A further protest meeting was held on the 3rd December attended by over 300 London Scoutmasters. At this meeting Vane accepted the presidency of the British Boy Scouts causing a final schism between the BBS and the Boy Scouts Association. Vane was followed into the BBS by numerous London Troops and the Quakers and their Birmingham and Midland Troops swelling the ranks of the BBS. Some of the trouble surrounded the fact that Vane had advocated a democratic government and was unhappy about the appointment of National Service League members to the Scout HQ.
By late December, it was reported in CHUMS that the BBS had spread to Australia, Africa, and Canada. Vane sought to expand the BBS, already numbering some hundreds of troops. By February 1910, Vane had secured the support of the Boy's Life Brigade to form 'The National Peace Scouts', a loose federation, with a combined membership of 85, 000 (45,000 BBS 40,000 BLB). Because the BBS were the principal members, the term 'The National Peace Scouts' was practically synonymous with 'The British Boy Scouts'. The interest in Scouting within the BLB was never very great and the BLB remained 'silent partners' in the National Peace Scouts. By May 1910, Vane had pushed up the membership of the BBS to 50,000, and was responsible for the creation or further expansion of Scouting in other Countries. In Italy, which provided Vane with a Summer home, Vane founded the Italian Boy Scouts in the summer of 1910 -The Ragazzi Exploratori Italiani, REI and gained for them Royal patronage. Vane also linked with others abroad, E P Carter and H C Edwards-Carter in South Africa. E P Carter had been running an organisation called 'The Boys' Guide Brigade', based on Woodcraft and Cadet Corp drill. He wrote to B-P about his scheme as early as 1902. Other Scout organisations abroad linked with Vane (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, India, South America, USA, France, Egypt).
From the beginning of the BBS in 1909 both Girl Scout and Junior Scout sections were a full part of the BBS. Due to public criticisms over the issue of Girl Scouts, the BBS formed 'The British Girls' Nursing Corps' in December 1909 as an alternative. However, through the intervention of Sir Francis Vane, a number of Girl Scout Troops continued under their original title, The British Girl Scouts, to become by 1913, the only Girls section within the BBS. From the start of the movement the younger boy had been attracted by Scouting, and to allow younger boys to join, Junior Scout Troops were formed late 1909 for boys 7 - 11 years of age. Attention was given six months later to the other end of the age scale. The BBS Leadership thought that lads 17 and over should be given their own training scheme and the Imperial Scout Corps (or Empire Scouts) was formed in May 1910. Early 1911 Vane had formed with the Troops in the Empire and with the Italian Scouts, a loose federation "The Legion of World Scouts".
As quickly as events saw a rapid rise in the numbers of the BBS in the UK, a series of events saw its equally rapid demise to a fraction of the size. Very little is known of what went on in the background in those early years as extremely few documents have survived but, probably as a result of disagreements with Vane, the original leaders of the BBS, H Moore and W G Whitby disappear from the scene mid 1911. Alongside this was the BBS's disappearance from the pages of CHUMS. Vane sought to heal the breach with the B-P Scouts by an application for the BBS to become again an affiliated organisation. This was rejected and Vane was informed that BBS Troops could apply to join their local Boy Scouts Association in the normal way. The BBS could not remain as a corporate organisation, thus disbanding the BBS. Even if BBS troops joined in this way, B-P refused to entertain Vane. The answer was clear, he was not welcome back. Undeterred and more determined to succeed, Vane set up a new Headquarters at 124 New Bond Street.
The Order of World Scouts
On the 11th November 1911, the 'Order of World Scouts' was launched due to the expansion of the BBS abroad and within the British Empire (Australia, South Africa etc.,.). The date was chosen to echo the Crusader Knights who had seen the successful conclusion to the first crusade with the coronation of Baldwin of Boulogne as the Christian King of Jerusalem, 11th November 1100. Alliances had been formed with the Scouts in Italy (which Vane had founded), Scout Troops in France and The American Boy Scout (a working class American Scout organisation, incorporated May 1910 ,hence the singular ending). In the Order, Vane took on the title of Grand Scoutmaster . There were Assistant Grand Scoutmasters for the UK; Captain Walter Masterman, South Africa; H C Edwards Carter, South Australia; Joseph Regis-Coory, France; Monsieur Augustin Dufresne. Prince Di Cassano of Italy was the Vice President of the Order. What began as an argument in 1909 as to how the London Scouts were to be organised became by 1911 a global schism, with two movements competing worldwide, with Vane's creation of a World Scout organisation almost a decade before it became a reality in B-P's organisation.
Within a year, the BBS in the United Kingdom was in turmoil. The main financial burden of the enlarged Association fell on Vane, and due to unpaid debts, he was declared bankrupt in August 1912. This event lost to the BBS not only Sir Francis and his leadership, but its full time headquarters, source of equipment and badges. Various attempts at rescuing the BBS were made. Captain Masterman, Vane's Assistant Grand Scoutmaster in the UK sought a corporate affiliation with the Boy Scout's Association. The answer had not altered from the previous year. Individual troops were free to apply for membership. This option failed to gain the agreement of the BBS. However, Masterman took 8 Troops into B-P's Boy Scouts which had been under his direct control. Albert Jones Knighton, the Midlands County Commissioner took over as acting Grand Scoutmaster, and sought to salvage what he could in terms of an organisation. With Masterman's defection, the Troops he took with him into the B-P organisation contained Junior Scout Sections. This practice extended in the B-P organisation, until numerous Junior Scouts existed, and they were provided with their own training scheme and identity 'Wolf Cubs'. In 1913, Barrow Cadbury, Chairman of the Birmingham BBS sought for the BBS a corporate amalgamation with the Boys Life Brigade. The few Troops favouring this option formed the Boys' Life Brigade Scouts in 1914. By the 1920s these Troops had formed ordinary BLB Companies. Developments in the BLB Scouts had an impact on the development of B-P's organisation. The Imperial Scout Corps of the BBS had become Senior Scout Patrols and Troops in the BLB Scouts. These were discussed at a Scout conference in B-P's movement, Easter 1914. This led to Senior Scouts in the B-P organisation, quickly to be renamed Rover Scouts.
Christians in Uniform 1914-1931
Despite the defections and set backs, around 100 troops continued as BBS troops under the leadership of Albert Jones Knighton (1860-1947), the Grand Scoutmaster (a title used by Vane). Jones Knighton continued within the Order of World Scouts, led by Vane until the Order's end with the arrival of the First World War. Vane maintained some contact with the BBS as in 1915, he visited and inspected a London Troop in Balham run by a London Commissioner Mr Percy Herbert Pooley (1886-1971). From 1913 onwards the title 'The British Boy Scouts and British Girl Scouts Association' was used, reflecting the female membership that had always been a part of the BBS. Through Vane's influence the BBS attracted Christian men and women, and through the leadership of Jones Knighton and Pooley, the BBS became a definite Christian Association. After the War Vane moved back to Italy. His own Scouts (REI) had disbanded by 1914 with the beginning of the War or had been absorbed by the National Scouts (Corpo Nazionale Giovani Esploratori Italiana - GNGEI) founded in 1912 and loyal to B-P. However some REI units had led to the formation of a Catholic Association of Scouts (Associazione Scautistica Cattolica Italiana - ASCI) in 1916. Vane continued his Scout career by working with the Catholic Boy Scouts (ASCI). He regained contact with Baden-Powell through the work of the Italian Scouts and its contact with the World Scout Bureau, founded by Baden-Powell's movement in 1921. Despite this Vane never regained B-P's friendship, and the Catholic Italian Scouts were denied membership of the World Bureau. The smaller non-Catholic organisation 'The National Scouts' was granted membership instead. In 1927, Vane also sought to pursued B-P to extend a hand of friendship to the BBS, to incorporate them into the main movement in the UK also without success. The Order of World Scouts ceased to be with the onset of the first World War and was never revived owing to the loss of contact by the various organisations. Most of the troops abroad linked up with Baden-Powell's movement after the war. Further losses of troop occurred to the remaining 100 or so Troops that had continued the BBS in 1913, due to the lack of any real organisation, the difficulties imposed by war time conditions (1914-1918), and with the loss of many Scoutmasters called up to the armed forces. Many who were never to return.
The American organisation in the Order of World Scouts, became more military and renamed itself The United States Boy Scout but fell foul of The Boy Scouts of America. An action was begun in the Supreme Court in New York August 1917. The case was to last until March 1919. B-P provided evidence on Oath, where he denied the existence of any other Scouting organisations other then those allied to his own. He held back evidence on Vane's Italian Scouts, the Church Lad's Brigade Scouts in England, incorporated in 1909 as the Incorporated Church Scout Patrols. The United States Boy Scout Leaders were unaware of the existence of these two organisations but knew of the BBS to whom they were once allied. Baden-Powell dismissed the BBS as being only a handful of Troops - "not officially recognised". This referred to the fact that the BBS began and had remained an unincorporated society, which had power to meet by British Common Law. What had once been offered as a public domain youth activity in Britain now took on the nature of propriety rights. The result was inevitable and the United States Boy Scout was forced to reorganised as the US Junior Military Forces Inc. In his sworn evidence B-P claimed the use of the name 'Boy Scout' as his own, where the fact was that it was first coined in the Buffalo Bill Library of the Aldine Press in 1899, then used by the same publisher in the True Blue War Library for a character called 'The Boy Scout' a British hero in the South African War. Stories ran from 1900 to 1906. This was the origin of the name. B-P by using the name allowed British Boys to identify with this hero of a Boys Comic.
Just after the War, the BBS undertook recruiting amongst the Churches, seeking to recover its losses. The B-P Boy Scout Association responded and in 1921 the Boy Scouts Association gained sponsors for a Bill in the British Parliament 'The Boy Scouts (Protection of Name and Uniform) Bill'. It sought to outlaw such organisations as the BBS from using the name 'Boy Scouts' and from wearing Scout uniform and badges. The Bill failed to gain any real support as it was seen, specially to favour the Boy Scouts Association. Work continued behind the scenes for five years and in a cosmetically broader approach to legislation, 'The Chartered Associations (Protection of Names and Uniforms) Act was passed in 1926, having failed in 1922, 1923, and 1924. It was not only the B-P Headquarters that had been working hard behind the scenes in creating legislation. The BBS also had its people in high places. Herbert Dunnico a Labour MP, who was a committed Christian and a BBS Scoutmaster, at the Committee stage of the Chartered Associations Bill had successfully inserted a clause exempting 'bona fide national organisations' from ceasing to use such uniform, badges or titles, if they had been in regular use at the time of the passing of the Act. Thus the BBS still enjoyed its freedom to use 'Boy Scout' as part of its title.
The inclusion of the exception clause had been Pooley's way of seeking to deal with the problem. In this he differed from the Grand Scoutmaster, Albert Jones Knighton who sought to change the image and name of the BBS, ceasing to be Boy Scouts and therefore avert the conflict with B-P's organisation. In 1926 Jones Knighton left the BBS changing the name of his troop in Birmingham to the 'British Boy Sentinels', allowing him to keep to the same sequence of initials. He had prepared such a move in 1922 fearing the Uniform Bill of that year was to be successful. This move left most of the BBS unaffected and Pooley took over control as the Chief Commissioner, working hard to expand the BBS, gaining troops in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Belfast, Bath and London. In the same year, the BBS was also joined by break-away Troops from the Boy Scouts' Association in the Shoreditch area, forming 'The Independent Scout Alliance'. The President of the Alliance, Lord Alington became the Grand Scoutmaster of the BBS. The Alliance only lasted a few years and eventually all the Troops that had broken away returned to the Boy Scouts' Association, the last re-joining in 1932. In the same year as the formation of the Independent Scout Alliance (1926), the Boys' Life Brigade amalgamated with the Boys' Brigade. Several BLB Companies declined to join the Boys' Brigade and instead formed the 'Young Life Pioneers' affiliating to the BBS. By the 1930s the YLP Companies had either joined the Boys' Brigade or had become Scout Troops within the BBS. The period 1926 to 1932 formed the high point under Pooley's leadership with a developing British Scout movement along Christian lines with an expanding number of Troops and a developing organisation. However a series of events 1931-1932 hindered further developments. The BBS strength in the UK in the late 1920s/early 1930s was around 40 Troops mainly sponsored by Free Churches. Isolated BBS Troops appeared to be in existence in Australia. The 1920 BBS Letterhead gives Jones Knighton's title as Grand Scoutmaster of England and Australia. Gilbert Rowntree and Roye 'Sped' Johnson ran a BBS Troop from around 1923 into the 1930s in the basement of the Friends Meeting House in Murray Street, Hobart, Tasmania. No further information exists to indicate how extensive any BBS organisation was in Australia, or if it ever extended beyond the 1930s.
The Brotherhood of British Scouts 1932-1950s
After 1931, Dunnico was no longer an MP and the Boy Scouts Association sought to use the claims of the Act as there was no longer any person of substance behind the BBS. In November 1931 Samuel N Manning (1889-1967) was appointed Grand Scout, a person the B-P HQ regarded as "an insignificant little person". Lacking any funds the BBS became easy prey. Under the threat of litigation (the B-P organisation's solicitor claimed the BBS was not 'national' and therefore did not come under the exception clause), the BBS changed its name to The Brotherhood of British Scouts to avoid further conflict, but more to the point, to avoid costly legal fees in the BBS's defence. The change of name did not find agreement with all the leaders within the BBS and W Hanley, Assistant Chief Commissioner led some Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire Troops as a break-away organisation under the original name. The break-away only lasted a year with many Troops subsequently returning under Pooley's leadership. The energies used in the period of conflict, the loss of support from those who did not want to be caught up with anything controversial did much to weaken the organisation as it was to face further challenges. The 1930s were years of economic depression, causing the loss of troops as Scoutmasters moved in search of work. In 1937 Pooley moved from London to Cirencester to a new job as a Teleprinter operator. His creation of troops in Gloucestershire helped to maintain the BBS as an organisation that was shrinking elsewhere. The onset of the second world war saw the collapse of further troops due to loss of Scoutmasters and the evacuation of boys from various districts, troops that were never regained. Only five troops emerged from the war. Even with these disappointments, Pooley continued, convinced through faith and prayer that the BBS would yet go on and flourish.
The Brotherhood of British Scouts 1950s-1970s
By 1950 the BBS had reduced to 4 Troops. The loss was made up when in 1953 a Boy Scouts Association Troop, the 10th Lewisham (St Stephen's) located at Loampit Hill, joined under the Leadership of Charles A Brown, a Christian and faithful Churchman. Brown worked closely with Manning (who ran his own troop at Wimbledon), living nearer to him than did Pooley who was a distance away at Cirencester. Almost soon after he joined, Brown became the Association's secretary and in 1966 Manning appointed Brown as Assistant Chief Commissioner being a younger man than Pooley, now aged 81. Brown became firmly in control of the administration of the BBS. Manning died in 1967 but no further appointment of a Grand Scout was made. P H Pooley died in 1971 at 85 years of age and after sixty years of service to the BBS. Charles A Brown took over as the Chief Commissioner. Brown did not have the energies and vision of Mr Pooley and saw the BBS shrink to a single Troop, that of his own. He acted as a 'caretaker', and although approached by other organisations to incorporate his Troop into theirs, preserved the BBS as a separate organisation with its own unique history. Past members of the Cirencester Troops through gratitude due to the enjoyment they received as Boy Scouts, held a reunion at Cirencester hosted by Ron Holden a former Scoutmaster in April 1982. A further reunion was held in 1985.
The British Boy Scouts of Today
The 1980s saw a gradual expansion of the BBS from its precarious position of being a single troop under Brown. In 1978 a further Group joined the BBS, 30th Oxford (St Stephen's House) which became in 1979 the Oxford University Rover Crew. The Rover Scout Leader was Michael Foster. Other BBS Groups resulted from the University Crew, such as the North/East London Rover Crew in 1981. From 1979 until 1982 the ex-RSL of the University Crew - the Reverend Michael Foster then a Priest in London assisted Charles Brown in Lewisham. In 1983 Brown appointed Michael Foster as Chief Commissioner, handing over to him the administration of the BBS. Brown took over the long vacant office of Grand Scout. In the 1980s new Troops were launched - Nottingham, Aylesbury, Forest Gate in the East End of London, Oxford, Lydbrook in the Forest of Dean, followed in the 1990s by groups - 1st Norwich (St Marks) and 8th Wavertree (183rd Liverpool), 1993: 18th Midland (Longridge Methodist Church), 18th Midland (Cofton Community Centre), 1st Dormansland, 1994: 2nd Goring and Streatley Scout Group, 1995: 3rd Tyneside Scout Group, 1997: 21st Derby (St. Albans), 1998: 1st Hill Lane, Briercliff, Lancashire. Charles Brown, the Grand Scout died in November 1992 and Ted Scott, a member of the BBS since 1926 and a life long friend of Mr Pooley, became Grand Scout from January 1993.
Back to the Beginning
The years 1978-1993 saw a gradual return to the original title of 'The British Boy Scouts' supplemented by the additional title of 'and the British Girl Scouts', as an equal number of females were in membership. In the 1990s a revival of the Order of World Scouts began. On the 22nd April 1991, a BBS Commissioner was appointed for Australia. On June 24th 1991, Robert Campbell was promoted to Chief Commissioner of the BBS & BGS in Australia. On the 24th June 1992, the Association was incorporated as the 'Scouts of Australia' . Eight years later, Bill Nangle was appointed Chief Commissioner of the BBS & BGS in Canada 27th August 1999. The name adopted for the Canadian counterparts was the Canadian Independent Scout Association. Both the Australian and Canadian organisations, with the BBS in Britain are partners in the Order of World Scouts. In addition to the Australian and Canadian members, other individual members exist abroad in such countries as Ireland and Hawaii.
A Continuing Tradition
The BBS continues as a Christian Scouting Association, holding to the convictions the BBS leaders held when it was first formed; avoiding bureaucracy, seeking to promote the cause of peace, of being a Christian organisation. The collapse of the BBS in 1912, the arguments between B-P and Vane, the eccentricity of some of the leadership can easily mask the social impact the BBS created and the vision it brought to men and boys. In understanding this despite the immense setbacks we can understand why it survived. Vane had brought about contact between men who were not at home with the jingoism of the age. It was not just a case of being anti-jingoistic but Vane had replaced imperialism with internationalism. What was seen as the bureaucracy of B-P's organisation was replaced by a model allowing greater democracy, which Vane praised in reflection 27 years later in his autobiography 'Agin the Governments' 1929. The appeal of a democratic organisation attracted Troops in working class areas. Vane's generosity in terms of his financial support although his downfall also influenced men. For Vane the theme of the BBS was the theme of the Christian Knight engaged in the work of the Kingdom of God fighting against injustice inhumanity and cruelty. It was this theme tempered by the puritanism of Chapel religion that was to occupy Pooley as leader of the surviving BBS for 60 years. Despite the forces towards imperialism here was a movement that clearly showed an alternative direction. It emerged in the same period that Parliament was struggling with the issue of Home Rule for Ireland and with questions to be raised about the Boer War. It was within this visionary background that Pooley joined the BBS and under Jones Knighton became the main leader taking the reins fully in 1926. He worked hard as a Christian with other BBS Troop Leaders and helped thousands of boys giving them a good influence at the start of their lives, encouraging the development of several Christian troops in Various districts. The initial Christian direction of the BBS under Whitby and Vane, was further strengthened by Pooley who insisted on a firm Christian commitment by all BBS Scout Leaders. Since 1978 the BBS has begun to flourish once again. The reputation of such men as Sir Francis Vane suffering from the hands of the establishment in the Edwardian period has been redeemed as a Prophet before his time by such authors as Tim Jeal in his biography on Baden-Powell (1989). The present day leadership of the BBS are more articulate in forwarding the organisation's apologetics. Its membership, after a period of existing as a single troop is again expanding, with Church backed Troops.
The Christian commitment of the BBS is now framed within the constitution "The Association is first and foremost a Christian organisation and seeks to serve the Christian Church as a means of advancement of the Christian Faith. This is achieved through local Churches sponsoring BBS & BGS Groups or Companies, in which leisure, education and Christian influence are combined in an attractive way. It can provide both an activity for Christian young people and be the means of introducing young people to the Christian Faith" Part 1 General Principles 3.1.
The History of the British Girl Scouts
The British Girl Scouts were founded in 1909 and were the counterpart to the British Boy Scouts, a Scouting organisation independent from Baden-Powell's organisation. The attraction of Scouting, not only captured the imagination of boys but also that of girls. Not only did Girl Scouts exist in 1909, but one letter to the Spectator on December 4th 1909 reveals mixed troops existed. In the second edition of Scouting for Boys, the details of a girl scout uniform were provided. Public criticism on the issue of girl scouts was both sharp and vocal, leading both Baden-Powell and the leaders of the British Boy Scouts to avert criticism. Baden-Powell's answer was the creation of a separate scheme in November 1909 'Girl Guides', leading to a separate organisation 'The Girl Guides Association' in 1910.
The first recording of any official information about Girls within the BBS was an announcement in 'Chums' the BBS Journal published by Cassell & Co., January 5th 1910 stating that 'The British Girl's Nursing Corps' had been formed which would be the generic heading of the Girl Scout sections that had been until now attached to British Boy Scout Troops. The Executive meeting had taken place in December 1909, thus revealing membership of Girls in the BBS late 1909. The British Girls Nursing Corps was placed under a 'Chief Scoutmistress' and the Corps was governed by the BBS Laws and controlled by the BBS Executive. The BBS Executive had been under the same public pressure as the B-P organisation and had offered a similar solution. By June 1910 the Nursing Corps was of sufficient strength as to be able to launch its own journal 'The British Girl Nurse' and had established its own organisation separate from the BBS.
Despite the directive of the BBS Executive, once Vane had taken part in the leadership of the BBS, the solution for the issue of girl scouts was no longer straight forward. Sir Francis, as Commissioner for London in the B-P Association would have had contact with the numerous Girl Scout Troops which formed within his area. Tim Jeal author of the Biography "Baden-Powell", Hutchinson, 1989, in writing to the author on the subject of Girl Scouts notes "It occurs to me that some of the very large numbers of Girl Scout troops formed from 1908 onwards ....may have been affiliated to the BBS" -letter dated April 8th 1986. This would have owed itself to the defections to the BBS late 1909. This suggestion of Tim Jeal's is confirmed by Edward Shield (a researcher on the life of Sir Francis Vane) in his notes sent to the author. According to these notes towards the end of 1909, Sir Francis Vane introduced a Girl Scout Troop into the BBS, which probably had been organised under the B-P Scouts. This Girl Scout Company was based at Brixton Hill London SW. They asked Sir Francis if they could be renamed 'Sir Francis Vane's Own'. It was this Company that attended the Knighthood ceremony at the Chapel Royal of the Savoy in 1911. A second Girls Troop mentioned by Edward Shield was at Toynbee Hall, where the Scouts enjoyed the support of Harvey and Vane.
One factor that may be significant in relation to defections from the B-P Scouts is the substitution of the name 'Guide' for 'Scout'. Rose Kerr reports "The new name was not received with any great enthusiasm by those who had already styled themselves 'Girl Scouts' and many of them felt that the scheme now proposed to them, with its substitution of nursing and domestic duties for the more boyish activities, was rather a watered-down edition of Scouting" -Rose Kerr, The Story of the Girl Guides 1932 revised 1964, Girl Guide Association Page 35. The view that, 'girls should not be scouts, and should be organised on a separate basis under a differentiating title', was not shared by Vane, and the 'generic heading' for girls work within the BBS, may have been a compromise as the Troop under Vane's name continued with the title 'Girl Scouts' (as reported at the Ceremony at the Savoy Chapel).
The policy of the Executive may have been modified because on March 30th 1910 the BGNC is described as 'This new scouting girl movement' in "Chums". With the resignation of the original members of the Executive Committee Vane's views gained ascendancy with the Girl Scouts being represented by that title in 1911 as part of the Order of World Scouts, giving an indication that the Brixton Troop did not exist in isolation. Despite Sir Francis' preference for Girl Scouts, he also managed to carry over into the World Scouts, the British Girl's Nursing Corps. The BGNC was not connected with the remaining BBS after Vane's departure. By 1914, as only the Girl Scout Troops remained as the female counterpart to the boys work in the BBS, the name 'The British Boy and Girl Scouts Association' came into use in districts where Girl Scout Troops were present. By 1928 this became the main title of the BBS under the fuller heading of 'The British Boy Scouts and British Girl Scouts Association', and modified in 1933, with the change of name from 'The British Boy Scouts' to 'The Brotherhood of British Scouts'. In 1993 the BBS restored the 1928 title for regular use. The tradition of Girl Scouts started as part of the B-P tradition continued, but as part of the BBS, although they did not enjoy any wide representation after the First World War, with the imbalance being corrected in the last two decades with equal membership of girls and boys, although within an organisation a fraction of its former size.
A Continuing Tradition
The BGS continues as a Christian Scouting Association, holding to the convictions the BBS leaders held when it was first formed; avoiding bureaucracy, seeking to promote the cause of peace, of being a Christian organisation.
The Christian commitment of the BGS is now framed within the constitution "The Association is first and foremost a Christian organisation and seeks to serve the Christian Church as a means of advancement of the Christian Faith. This is achieved through local Churches sponsoring BBS & BGS Groups or Companies, in which leisure, education and Christian influence are combined in an attractive way. It can provide both an activity for Christian young people and be the means of introducing young people to the Christian Faith" Part 1 General Principles 3.1
Single sex troops of British Girl Scouts can be formed, or co-educational Troops may be formed with British Boy Scout members and British Girl Scout members included in a single Troop.
Reverend Mike Foster, Grand Scout Master Emeritus