The History of 1st Wimborne Minster Scout Group
1st Wimborne was formed in 1910. There was no permanent headquarters initially, the Scouts meeting in the Gospel Hall at the rear of the then N0: 33 East Borough. Entrance was through a brick arch above which was a bedroom of No: 33 occupied by a Mrs Wellstead and her daughter. Their backyard housed the hall, garage and garden which ran down to the river Allen.
Another location used was “The Armoury” at No: 43 West Borough, accessed via the double wooden gates by the side of No: 41, Thatched Cottage. At the rear there was a brick building with a tiled roof, albeit sagging, is still there today. The ridge of the roof running parallel to West Borough, is the remains of the ‘Armoury’. (No: 43 was used during WW1 for Army recruits, young men in civilian clothes going in one door and coming out of the other, having signed on, wearing army uniform. Behind the ‘Armoury’ was a rifle range, the brick wall at the rear of the property bears bullet holes today and spent bullets and cartridge shells are occasionally dug up in the garden).
Apparently the plot of land where the school swimming pool is located in school Lane was purchased for the building of a Scout headquarters with a sign board to this effect.
Doctor Walter Henry Dodd was the District Scoutmaster in the early days. His grave can be found in WimborneCemetery (In the junction of the first hand fork on the left facing east) He died on 28th March 1926 aged 69 years. His gravestone is marked “Be Prepared”. Set in the stone is a window housing his District Scoutmasters badge, Imperial Award of Merit, Instructors badge, Thanks badge (a reverse Swastika – seen as a sign of good luck), and Medical Officers Badge. In the early days Mr Hillier was the Scoutmaster and Mr Cuff, Gymnast Instructor, resulting in displays at local fetes etc… later Mr Robbins was Scoutmaster followed by Mr Jimmy James as Group Scoutmaster, (later to become District Commissioner following Sir James Brooks) a Mr Frank Hart then became Scoutmaster. Dr Bernard Rayne Parmiter (affectionately known as ‘Doc’ was for many years associated with the troop and was Medical Officer and present at most camps.
(The leader’s room on the first floor of the existing Scout Headquarters in Redcotts Lane is named after him).
The Mill in West Borough was purchased by public subscription and a donation from Dr Dodd in the late 1920’s, now No: 41 West Borough, and occupied by various Companies under the title of Walford Mill Studios, (opposite Tice’s Garage) this building used to have a plaque “Boy Scout Gymnasium” and had a very high ceiling on the lower floor with ropes and rings attached. The top floor of which was reached by a wooden staircase, having patrol den’s and centre assembly area.
In 1946 the Mill was sold and land purchased at Leigh Common. The plot had a large wooden building in the centre and a small wooden bungalow towards the rear for storage of camping gear. The land being ideal for camping and outdoor activities. Originally the large building on the land was part of the “Jockey Nightclub” with buildings along the front, which were burnt down in a fire, hence the reason for the sale. Maintenance also proved a problem, so it was decided to sell and purchase the Redcotts lane site from the Dorset County Council and build the present headquarters in 1960.
The above is based on information gleaned from various sources and personal knowledge.
W. John Loader