A brief history of Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire has the distinction to be the first ever organised Scout County.

The birth of Scouting in Hertfordshire had a head start and took its first steps at a dinner party in 1906 when Percy Everett (PWE) met Baden-Powell (B-P) who was the guest speaker. Over the next year a friendship developed and PWE was invited to help plan the experimental camp on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour. It was here B-P wanted to carry out his ideas to help Edwardian boys to become good citizens.

After the camp in August 1907, B-P asked PWE to go home and set up Scouting in his home county of Hertfordshire. B-P wanted a system and organisation to allow Scouting to develop and to be an example to other Commissioners when setting up their own county structures.

It took PWE 2 years to set up 16 Districts, each with a management structure. The first Hertfordshire Troop met formally on 20 February 1908 and by November 1909 there were 29 Troops and 787 boys and Leaders. Since our centenary in 2008, more than 20 Groups have been helped with their centenary planning and celebrations. Districts started to be registered from 1909 and I am now helping these with their centenary event functions as they become due.

Since becoming County Archivist in 2003, I have recruited and developed a Support Team of qualified people and accumulated a large amount of historical material. This is kept at Well End Campsite and is available for research by others. The County Museum is one of the oldest permanent Scout Museums in the UK having been created in 1957 to the memory of Haydn Dimmock (FHD). He was Editor of The Scout a weekly paper that was published non-stop for 58 years. FHD was also a Hertfordshire Scout, living in Welwyn Garden City where both his sons were Scouts with the First Welwyn Troop.

With the help of my team I have written a book Milestones of 100 years of Hertfordshire Scouting. This details in chronological order the developing history of our County. Copies were distributed to every Group and District in 2008. If you would like to purchase one of the few remaining copies, please let me know. They are ideal as gifts and prizes for competitions etc.

The main role of the History & Heritage Support Team is to create a permanent record of Scouting in Hertfordshire, especially providing support to individuals, Groups and Districts when tracing their history or carrying out badge work. Guided tours of the Museum are available by appointment, so if you are coming to Well End for a Nights Away experience, let me know and I will book you in.

A tour of the Museum can help considerably with certain aspects of Activity badge work and History & Heritage themed activities for all ages. A copy of how the scouting activity badges can be earned using the Well End archives is available for download here.

If preferred, I can come to your HQ and give an illustrated talk on the unique history of Scouting in Hertfordshire and how it helped to develop into an outstanding Scout County.

Please be aware, these tours and talks are not generally suitable for Beaver Scouts but there are badge work exceptions.

Reference may be made to other headings of historical interest on the Website.

“On the 50th anniversary of Wolf Cubs in 1966, Sixers Alan Phillips (8 Borehamwood) and Peter Baker (33 South West Herts now 2 Watford South Group) presented The Chief Scout Sir Charles Maclean with a scrapbook that was compiled by Hertfordshire Wolf Cubs. Alan and Peter had produced the best illustrations. The presentation was made in the Chief Scouts office at Buckingham Palace Road”

A Group of Harpenden Scouts with the Mayor undertaking a centenary project to climb the highest point in every County in the UK.

Contact the County Archivist
Frank Brittain, Archivist.
01727 860086 / 07850 818600

Put your phone down and what are you left with? Just teamwork, courage and the skills to succeed.’
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls