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Humshaugh: - A Fortnight in Baden-Powell's Holiday Camp.
August 22nd - September 4th, 1908


Banner illustrations of the camp
One of the banner illustrations used for news of the camp in The Scout
Brownsea is often thought of as the world's first Boy Scout Camp. However, should you want to win the argument as to the origins of the first ever Scout Camp, you might invoke the 'chicken and egg' paradox. Which came first, the Scout, or the Scout Camp?

The Background

THE boys at Baden-Powell's 'experimental camp' on Brownsea in 1907 were not Scouts in the normal sense of the word. Around half were members of the Bournemouth and Poole and Boys Brigades and some of the others, the Public School lads, may have belonged to their school's Cadet Corps. As the camp was an experiment pre-dating the Scout Movement these boys did not belong to recognised Scout Groups, know the Scout Law or had taken their Scout Promise. It is certain that following the publication of the first part of Scouting for Boys, published on January 15th 1908, and the registration of Scout Troops by Scout Headquarters that there were a number of Scout camps, both official and unofficial, held in the early months of 1908. One such was held in May by Colonel Vaux D.S.O., a long-standing army-friend of B-P. Vaux was a wealthy member of the brewing family famous in the North-East of England and a well-known philanthropist. He arranged for twelve boys, the Peewit Patrol from his own Scout Troop in Sunderland and a 'demonstration patrol', the Kangaroos, from a London Hampstead Troop to camp on his estate at Grindon, Sunderland. Naturally, the camp was visited by Baden-Powell, probably on the May 22nd, 1908.

Colonel Vaux paid his boys five shillings a week to attend the camp! A photo appeared in the Sunderland Echo and the camp was 'written up' by Baden-Powell in The Scout of July 4th, 1908. "Both patrols looked very smart and well, and seemed to have had a good time in camp." Paid or not, the lads belonged to registered Scout Troops, knew their Scout Law and had made their Scout Oath or Promise. B-P's article about this camp and news of another in the grounds of Woodcote Hall, Wallington, Surrey appeared in The Scout directly above a 'Nomination Form' for a future 'Baden-Powell camp' to be held at Humshaugh, Northumberland, that summer.

The camp at Humshaugh (pronounced Hums-alf) was to have the distinction of being the first ever for serving Scouts to be led by Baden-Powell. The boys were members of Scout Troops from across Great Britain and they camped at a site close to Hadrian's Wall, north of Hexham, Northumberland between August 22nd and September 4th, 1908.

The Build-up. Exciting or Mercenary?

"Who of you would want to spend a fortnight under canvas with a troop of other boys, and under the care of General Baden-Powell? Is there a boy in all the land whose heart does not jump with joy at the prospect?"
Cover of The Scout
Issue 1 of The Scout (Peter Ford Collection). Note the similarity of the cover to that of the First Part of Scouting for Boys

SO announced the first issue of The Scout on 18th April 1908, "The most fascinating holiday ever offered" was to be for 30 boys, all expenses paid, "including Fares and Food".

But there had to be a catch, for there were thousands of lads who would have given their eye-teeth to camp with their hero. And there was. What The Scout was actually announcing was a competition, and the prize was to be an invitation to go to the camp. To win the prize you had to be in the top 30 names listed in The Scout of those who had collected the most 'votes' in the issue published immediately prior to the camp.

Baden-Powell did not have editorial control or any financial interest in The Scout. Any profits were Pearson's 'reward' for putting up the £1,000.00 it took for B-P to promote Scouting just before Scouting For Boys was published and to cover any losses Pearson might have made on that book. (As a world best seller, no loss was made!)

The 'votes' were nothing to do with democracy. You could vote for yourself, but only on a special form to be found in every issue of The Scout, published weekly until the closing date the week before the start of the camp. The magazine conducted a high-profile campaign to encourage boys to take part. There were exhortations and weekly lists of the top 50, then, as the time got nearer, additional names were listed in divisions A, B and C of young hopefuls who frankly stood no chance.

The idea was that of the publisher and arch-publicist Pearson. Scouts would encourage friends to buy the papers so they could have their voting coupons. It may have started out like that, but I doubt Scout F D Watson, who accumulated the most 'votes', had over 29,000 friends! The 50th boy in the league table had over 5350 votes. The scheme must literally have attracted tens of thousands of sales.

In the text B-P submitted to the Publisher's agent, Peter Keary, in a letter dated 23rd March 1908 and published in the first issue of The Scout on 18th April, 1908, B-P did not mention voting slips. He wrote,

"I am very anxious to institute another camp this summer, so that not only may a number of boys come and have a good time and practise real Scouting and open air life in the open, but also that Scoutmasters and others may come and see how a Scout Camp is carried on...
Voting coupon
"I should take any fellows of any class that would like to come whether from Eton College or Elswick Works or East End Slums, they are all the same to me as long as they are British lads willing to work at Scouting...
"All I shall expect of them is that they enjoy it, (and I rather imagine that they will), and should afterwards instead of saying much, do a little towards spreading what they have learnt of the art of Scouting among their friends and neighbours - particularly by raising and teaching new patrols of Scouts.
"That is all I should ask of them in return for their free Scouting Camp this summer."

By the time the publishers had worked on the idea, it became a fairly cynical attempt to boost the circulation of the The Scout, which, it has to be admitted, must in turn have boosted the membership of Scout Groups. Scouts could gain extra votes by sending money for advance orders of The Scout:- Six month's subscription of 2s 6d gained 100 extra votes; nine month's subscription of 3s 3d won 200 extra votes and twelve month's subscription 4s 4d gave 300 extra votes. - There were those who had their doubts.

In a letter to Peter Keary, dated March 29th 1908, Baden-Powell was critical of the whole way the camp had been used to generate sales.

"There is something in it which I fear will put off some readers of the better sort. 1st. The fact is that it touts for subscribers is to my mind the weakest point: it looks as though we feared not to succeed on our merits...
"Secondly it might frighten off boys from trying for the camp competition since it throws it into the hands of the richer ones by giving them 300 votes right off for a year's subscription..."

Arthur Primmer, who had attended Brownsea as a Boys Brigade lad, sent off his coupons but did not succeed in gaining a place. Happily it did not put him off Scouting. I wonder if B-P was ever made aware of Primmer's rejection?


Seneca camera boxSeneca camera

PERHAPS B-P felt somewhat guilty about Pearson's moneymaking scheme and this was the reason why he arranged for the first fifty boys, twenty of whom would not go to the camp, to receive a special 'Scout' Camera, and a further fifty a copy of Scouting for Boys, personally signed.

Unfortunately, I have no record, as yet, of the specific Scout camera given to these boys. The Box Brownie of the day was the Eastman Kodak No. 3 Bulls-Eye Camera, made between 1908 and 1913, but I have no evidence of any Kodak camera this early dedicated to Scouts. A very similar camera was the Seneca No 3 Scout Camera, shown here on the right, with its box on the left, which was made at about the same time in the US. Is this the camera B-P gave the fifty 'winners'? If you can shed any light on matter please do!


The Location

THE exact location of the campsite was kept secret right up to the end of the competition. There was a very good reason for this - it had not been finalised!

In a letter to Peter Keary, one Pearson's Editors, dated 22nd May 1908, B-P states that he is going to look for his campsite that week, and on the 30th May he wrote again to say he has visited Spurn Point, at the mouth of the River Humber, which "although good is not ideal". View of the campsite
The campsite today from the road

Again in a letter to Keary on August 9th B-P wrote:

"I have arranged camping grounds thus: Camp at Walewick [sic] Grange five miles from Hexham (Station Chollerford) for a week, then Tramps to neighbouring spots and bivouacs for the nights."

B-P knew the area quite well, as Commanding Officer of the Northumbrian Territorial Army in 1907, he had frequently visited a camp at Walwick Grange. (He had a normal car converted into one of the first motor caravans ever constructed, so that he could travel England's largest single administrative area without the need to book hotels or prevail on private hospitality.)

He was also very a good friend of Nathaniel Clayton of nearby Chesters, and Saxton Noble, the father of two of the Brownsea lads, who had underwritten the financial loss of the Brownsea camp, also lived in the vicinity. His friendship with Saxton Noble no doubt came about through his life-time association with his brother, George Noble, who shared many adventures with B-P in India and Afghanistan whilst they were serving in the 13th Hussars. View from campsite
The view to the south-west

The site is just south of the Roman Wall on a gently sloping hillside adjacent to Carr Edge Plantations (Grid Ref. NY 890.697). The 'Walewick' Grange B-P mentioned, is marked as Walwick Grange on the Ordnance Survey map and was one of George Noble's family homes; the nearest station, which was the one the Scouts actually used, was at Fourstones. B-P had letterheads printed for the camp (as he had done at Brownsea) with 'Humshaugh' as the address. Humshaugh village is, however, a mile north of the Roman Wall and would seem to have no association, postal or otherwise, with the campsite. The mystery of how the camp gained its name has, I feel, been solved by Milestones reader Phil Taylor, ex-member of the 1st Humshaugh Baden-Powell Troop, who points out that the Humshaugh telephone exchange would have served Walwick Grange and perhaps for that reason B-P thought it was also the postal address. (The 'Humshaugh' letterhead is often referred to, so letters sent from the camp must exist. I would be very pleased to publish copies or transcripts of them on this site with proper acknowledgement.)

At the Camp B-P wrote,

"I sit writing this letter in the camp on top of a great hill overlooking the Northumbria [sic] moors and dales, with views of the mighty Roman wall, an old grey castle tower where Moss Troopers used to fight. What a country for fighting and romance we are in. Scouting today has had its Scouts there before, Scouting for their lives many times in the last Two Thousand years.
"I wish every Boy Scout in Britain could be with us here today."
Thompson's plan of the campsite
Plan of Humshaugh Campsite from Henry Thompson's diary. The drawing of a building was the large Marquee

B-P could not have written these words from the campsite, as there is no view of the Wall. He was on Tourney's Fell at the time, just north-west of the wood above the campsite, as shown on the plan.

The exact location of the site is on land belonging to Park Shield's farm, which at the time was tenanted by A B Henderson, but owned by a "Great White Hunter" and naturalist, Abel Chapman of Houxty - a hamlet six miles further north. The campers were to visit his home at Houxty during the camp.

Mr Henderson's son still farmed the area in the 1950s and had memories of the camp, no doubt kept fresh by the signed photo that B-P gave to the family as a memento.

The Camp Quartermaster, Henry Holt, wrote:

"The scenery is really lovely, and wherever the eye wanders it falls upon something beautiful, and what with the undulating landscape, the verdant woods and a thousand and one attractions in this picturesque spot, if a boy cannot be happy amid such surroundings he must be a very strange boy indeed."
The Time of Their Lives, The Scout, 5th September, 1908.

Henry Holt was not a Scouter at that time as far as I know. B-P had a list of three Scouters, any one of whom he would have liked as his Quartermaster, but they all had prior engagements. In desperation B-P wrote to Keary on 9th August explaining his lack of success, "...so could Holt take it up?" Holt was employed by Pearson's, as an editor on The Scout. He contributed his observations of the camp to the magazine.


The Conditions.

ON 6th June 1908 Baden-Powell, or someone writing in his name, reports that he had been asked if it is possible to pay to attend the camp, in other words, to get there without collecting the voting slips. "To these enquirers I must answer, No, there is no royal road to the holiday camp. If you want to go you must be amongst the 30 on whose behalf are the greatest number of votes. Let me say distinctly, once and for all, there is no other way."

This however was disingenuous! In a letter to Keary, 9th August 1908. . . "You spoke of sending a few boy friends to the camp; how many would you like to send? I too would like to send 2 or 3, and we might therefore make up an extra patrol of six between us." Details, so far as they are known, of this patrol are included under the heading 'The Campers'.

Parents of those boys who were successful had to sign a parental consent form that had several stipulations which happily were not enforced.

"... 6. Any boy who misbehaves himself, or is found otherwise undesirable in camp may be sent home at any time."

The OrganisationSite photo with flag

THE catering was organised on similar lines to that of Brownsea in that there was an outside catering contractor, a Mr James White of White and Sons, Hexham. B-P wanted much of the food to come from local farms (but I do not know where he got the "whale for whale burning"!) Mr White was also able to provide the boys with demonstrations of "how to make bread without yeast or chemicals." (Were these the first ever Scouting twists?)

Tenting was hired locally. Along with the bell tents was giant marquee which proved extremely useful in the atrocious weather as it was large enough for patrol activities, badge work and for games to be played inside. The photograph opposite, taken at the camp, shows the size of the Marquee. B-P is pictured in the foreground. The caption to this original postcard states that the Union Flag is the same as the one flown over Mafeking. It was also used at Brownsea.



The Campers

"The Gallant Thirty". As reported in The Scout 29th August, 1908
  1. W Ambler Bradford, W.R. Yorks. ......... 16. W Mountford Wolverhampton, Staffs.
  2. J S Bartlett Sheffield, W.R. Yorks. 17. T Newton Wigan, Lancs.
  3. S S Black Sheffield, W.R. Yorks. 18. J Oakley Sunderland, Co. Durham
  4. G Blackmore Kettering, Northants. 19. M A Osborn Finchley, London
  5. J A Carnelley Halifax, W.R. Yorks. 20. A E Page Sutton, Surrey
  6. J A H Coats Argyllshire 21. R A Piper Brighton, Sussex
  7. R F Crawford Dublin, Dublin 22. T W Purves Glasgow, Lanarks.
  8. H Davids Kilmalcolm, Renf. 23. R R Rawson Epsom, Surrey
  9. C S Gibson Hull, E.R. Yorks. 24. R Read Westciffe-on-Sea, Essex
10. C W Hogg Middlesborough, N.R. Yorks. 25. L E Sedgley Walton-on-Thames, Surrey
11. A W Horne Shanklin, I.O.W., Hants. 26. H Sharp Epsom, Surrey
12. L Humphreys Liverpool, Lancs. 27. F Shields Belfast, Antrim
13. F James Port Talbot, Glam. 28. C J Thompson Northallerton, N.R. Yorks
14. C R Jordan Middlesborough, N.R. Yorks 29 H Thompson St. Helens, Lancs.
15. J Lewis Shrewsbury, Salop. 30. F D Watson Beith, Ayrs.

There were five patrols of 6 boys each plus the 'special' patrol of 6 making a total of 36 Boys

The boys came from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and all parts of England. Though the camp was held in Northumberland, it appears from the list that there were no Northumbrian Scouts amongst 'The Gallant Thirty', including the city of Newcastle; the nearest lived in Sunderland, 36 miles distance, with next nearest being from Middlesborough 56 miles away. B-P's statement that he would take lads from Elswick Works or the East End did not happen. The only London participant came from the very expensive address of 36 Buckingham Gate, SW1. (Elswick Armoury Works was in Newcastle, and one of the places the boys visited by train from the camp.)


The PatrolsCurlews Patrol?

THE competition winners were divided into five patrols: Kangaroos, Curlews, Ravens, Bulls and Owls. In addition, there was the special patrol - the Wolves - whose members were invited to attend.

The photograph shown here, from the UK Scout Archives, is previously unpublished and un-attributed. It is of a patrol at Humshaugh, but is it the Wolves? The boys certainly seem well-dressed. Was it taken with one of the prize cameras? The original is in very poor condition so you see it here with some enhancement. During the course of this restoration by my Web Designer, my hopes were dashed. He clarified the flag at the top of the staff of the second boy from the left and I at once identified it as the symbol of Curlews Patrol. This, though, leads to another tantalising mystery; one of the boys pictured may be the unnamed writer of the diary in the Canadian Scout Archives on which my own day-to-day account of the camp (see below) is based...

The Wolves patrol consisted of:-

1. Donald Baden-Powell. Nephew of B-P, also at Brownsea.
Donald Baden-Powell wrote in the August edition of The Scouter in 1929 that his most vivid memory of the camp was "... of a miniature tattoo ground which we discovered in another wood below our camping field. Here part of our number sat as an audience on a bank whilst the rest waged mock battles in a small area in front of them. A steep ditch enables the players to come onto the stage without being seen."

2. John Cattermole of Humshaugh. I know very little about this boy, other than from the writings of the Rev. Walter Hatchley (see below) who says that John was a local boy-bugler, who presumably had learnt to play in a local Boys Brigade Company and had been 'borrowed' by B-P to act as bugler at the camp. Rev. Hatchley also reports that in 1957 John Cattermole sent the bugle back to Humshaugh to be played at a commemorative campfire, but, unfortunately, has no further details - so I would welcome any more information about this boy or his bugle.John Cattermole?

Until November 2002, Charles Hogg (see the section 'Curlews Patrol' below) was the only Humshaugh participant to have been identified on a photograph, and, as far as I know, only in these Pages. However, the evidence for a further identification has been there since 1985 when Rev. Hatchley named the bugler at Humshaugh as John Cattermole. Although never previously identified as such, he is to be seen blowing his bugle on the 'Saluting the Union Jack', postcard shown above. He is to be seen to the left of the flagpole, behind the guyline supporting it, above the space between the words 'Union' and 'Jack' in the caption on the postcard and shown here, much enlarged

3. Humphrey Noble. Had also attended Brownsea with his brother Marc, (who was not present at Humshaugh.)
The boys' father had subsidised the Brownsea Camp and had gone on to become County Commissioner for Northumberland. The Nobles lived only a few miles away from the Humshaugh site at Walwick Grange and Sir Humphrey Noble was still resident there in the 1950s. In B-P's letter to Peter Keary on 9th August he wrote that he located the campsite as being at Walwick Grange. B-P had also visited the house in connection with his duties as Inspector of the Territorial Army. There seems then little doubt that his friendship with the Nobles' led to the selection of the site and of course B-P's continued 'sponsorship' of Humphrey.

4. C B P Peake.
In an article in The Scouter dated December 1954 on the Humshaugh Camp, The Rev. Aiden Pickering wrote that the editor of The Scouter in the previous November had tried to put him in contact with one of only two known survivors of the camp, C B P Peak. If the average age of the campers was around fifteen, they would have only been 61 in 1954 and they surely would not all have died by then. It seems remarkable to me that these early pioneers were not honoured, and links maintained with them, as was the case with the Brownsea participants.

As the name Peake does not exist on 'The Gallant Thirty' list, he must have been in the 'Wolves' patrol, the specially invited group. This hypothesis is strengthened by the fact that Peak became Sir C B P Peak KCMG., MC., British Ambassador to Greece in the 1950s. Given the class system at the time, it seems reasonable to assume that this boy was in the same social category as Noble and Rodney. As five of the boys in this patrol were directly invited by B-P, another assumption could be that Peake was invited by Peter Keary, given B-P's letter to Keary on the 9th August quoted above.

5. George Rodney. Attended Brownsea as the Patrol Leader of Curlews.
It is perhaps reasonable to assume that he would retain this rank and become the Patrol Leader of this special patrol. Wynne confirms that his patrol was led by another Etonian. There is, however, no record of George's other brothers who had attended Brownsea at this camp.

6. Edmund H J Wynne. The presence of this boy has been arrived at by much detective work.
In Headquarters Gazette July 1912, p. 201, there is article 'An Old Etonian's Appeal' by 'E.H.J.W.' In the article he wrote that he was invited by B-P 10 days before the camp began. Wynne was not a Scout at the time; he said that he met his first Boy Scout at the camp. "I was in a tent with five others, one of whom, the patrol leader, was an Etonian like myself."

Curlews patrol
Curlews Patrol
Image from a photograph, courtesy of Mr Brian Billington, Scout Postcard Collector

Further light was shed on the poor-quality image of the photograph, shown at the start of this section, when I was attending the Gilwell Reunion in September, 2002.

Whilst there I met one of our most avid readers, Brian Billington. He is a keen Scout postcard collector and he had bought a photograph, not a postcard, that he had been told was of a group of Scouts on Brownsea Island in 1907. Naturally, he had searched our Brownsea article but could find nothing, so he progressed to the Page on the Humshaugh camp. And there it was!

Brian kindly sent me a photograph of his photograph, a scan of which is shown here. Unlike our original version, which was made in November, 1999, this image needed no enhancement and shows far more detail. Better still, there is information on the back. "Charles Willman Hogg (small scout standing) from Middlesbrough High School. Born 7.11.94" CW Hogg from Middlesbrough does indeed appear on the 'Gallant 30' list. This, as far as I am aware, is the only occasion on which a Humshaugh participant has been positively identified on a photograph! And, since our identification of John Cattermole on the 'Saluting the Union Jack' postcard shown above, he is one of only two of the Boy Scouts at Humshaugh to be (so far!) identified.

The photograph sent my Web Designer, Mike Ryalls, into paroxysms of analysis and speculation:

"The print is from the same negative as our original image, the pattern of dots of dust in the sky in the top centre of both images is identical.

"The scan was about twice the size of the original photograph. Viewing this at 2:1" (i.e. double the size - four times the size of the original) "revealed some amazing detail.

"The Scout Staffs appear to be engraved around their circumferences. Towards the top the engravings are closer together. I take these to be feet and inches markings, which would make the tall young gentleman standing on the left about 5' 6", tall for the times and his probable age. Although as reproduced here, he appears to be wearing a suit, he is in shorts - though they reach down to just below his knees. The staff held by Charles Hogg (standing, third left) appears to be longer than the others, but, according to the engravings visible on it, it is not - it is a six-foot staff held more vertically than the others and appears to show that Charles Hogg was about 4' 6" tall.

"The photograph is quite formally-posed; the four standing Boy Scouts all have what appear to be lidded tea-cans or billies, the two in the centre having them attached to their belts. The belts, where visible, are not 'Boy Scout' belts with fleur-de-lis buckles, but appear to be of similar size and type with plain, narrow, rectangular buckles. The Boy Scout with the patrol flag (who, from the blurring on the photograph, appears to have covered his mouth to cough or sneeze the instant the picture was taken!) has a clasp-knife attached to his. The seated boys do not have Scout Staffs.

"The boy seated left and the one standing right appear to be wearing shirts with 'button-down' collars, not a style I was aware was available then. There are few other shirt buttons to be seen, so I am not sure on this point. If they are not buttons, they may be decorative tips to the collars, as is sometime seen on 'cowboy' shirts. If this was the case, what were these decorations? All the boys' neckerchiefs are tied with a necktie knot - woggles had not yet been invented! The boy seated right seems proud of the object he holds across his lap, but what is it?" (I identified this at once as a 'broom bessom' - a sweeping brush made of dry heather or broom, but if you have any other ideas . . . )

"The tantalizing questions are: Who was the Patrol Leader of Curlews? and which of the boys pictured was the author of the diary in the Canadian Scout Archives? The imperious young man standing left has the look of one 'born to lead' and we know from the diary that the writer was elected Patrol Leader. Our research will continue and who knows what we might discover?

"Finally, a radical suggestion: The boy standing on the right has a badge on his left lapel, shown here, much enlarged.B-P Badge?(There is some indication that the boy standing right has one too, but the photograph is not clear enough for a positive identification.) We know that B-P made badges for all the boys at the Brownsea Camp and that George Rodney was the Patrol Leader of Curlews Patrol on Brownsea. Did B-P use the invited members of Wolves Patrol as 'seed corn' to provide Patrol Leaders at the Humshaugh Camp? George Rodney was at Humshaugh, could he, once again, have been appointed Patrol Leader of Curlews? An intriguing fact is that George (then Lord) Rodney emigrated to Canada in 1919. Was he the diarist, whose anonymous volume is in the Canadian Scout Archives, and is the personable-looking boy on the right of the picture George Rodney, the Patrol Leader of Curlews at Humshaugh?"

It would seem that the only Etonian of the day with the same initials of EHJW (fortunately, enough in number to be reasonably certain of a correct match) was one Edmund Henry John Wynne who was at Eton from 1907 to Easter 1911. Although not part of 'The Gallant Thirty', that Edmund Wynne deserved his place was justified by his future actions. He went on to form a Scouting patrol near Wrexham which, I believe, to have been close to his family home. He was invited again to B-P's camp at Beaulieu. In the summer of 1910, Wynne held a camp for 20 boys in the 'park at home'. The following year the camp had grown to over 120 boys. (I am extremely indebted to Eton College Archivist Mrs P Hatfield who has kindly taken the time to research my queries.)

Lieutenant Edward H J Wynne joined the Grenadier Guards after Christ Church, Oxford and died of wounds on September 16th, 1916, joining the horrendous casualty list of campers from Brownsea and Humshaugh. His early death explains why we hear no more about him in the annals of Scouting History.

Baden-Powell wrote his obituary in Headquarters Gazette in December 1916. "'Teddy' Wynne was", he wrote, "heart and soul a scout." B-P recalled an incident from the time that Wynne, on holiday from Eton, had spent time washing dirty dishes at the Beaulieu camp. Before he was 21 he was a Scoutmaster running his own troop from his home at Coed Coch in North Wales. "...though his life was a short one, it was a happy one helping others...."

The names listed above would appear to be the first 'register' of the all the campers at Humshaugh ever published. I have enjoyed piecing together the jigsaw!

If you can shed any light on the Humshaugh pioneers please let me know. I would be very pleased to include any further information on these pages with suitable acknowledgement.


The Adults

I have used this un-Scoutlike term instead of 'Scouters' because I am not sure just how many of them were Scouters at that time.

Baden-Powell and Captain Colbron Pearse were Joint Commandants and, as already noted, Quartermaster Holt was then yet another employee of Pearson's. In addition, there were three Scoutmasters, each looking after two patrols. However, the following five men were known to be present:

Mr Percy Everett, another editor of Pearson's, spent 'a few days' at the camp. He was central to the early development of Scouting as were, to varying degrees, the others.

Mr Victor Bridges Everett wrote that he, "is another early worker to whom the Scout Movement is greatly indebted. He acted as Secretary throughout the most anxious periods, and his health has, I am afraid, permanently suffered owing to the enormous pressure he worked under for some months." Victor Bridges had been invited by Percy Everett to become the first Secretary of the Scout Association in 1908. He combined that rôle with a career as a prolific and popular novelist.

Mr W B Wakefield was, "...a keen and enthusiastic organiser of Scouts within the ranks of the YMCA." He had a long career within Scouting and in 1936 presented 250 acres of forest besides Lake Windermere to the Association. This became Great Tower Campsite

Mr Eric Walker "...a welcome and familiar friend in every Scouting centre" wrote Everett. Eric Walker toured Canada in 1910 with 16 scouts giving demonstrations of Scouting and left Scout work in 1914 to join the Royal Flying Corps. He was subsequently shot down and escaped from his prison camp using wire cutters disguised as a ham bone sent to him by B-P! Walker enlisted in the RAF in the 2nd World War and narrowly avoided capture in the Western Desert. He later travelled extensively, (at one stage rum-running) before building the revolutionary Outspan Hotel at Nyeri, Kenya, that incorporated the famous 'Treetops Hotel'. It was here that Princess Elizabeth learnt, in 1952, on the death of her father King George VI, that she had become Queen Elizabeth II. Walker commented that never before had anyone climbed a tree as a princess and come down as Queen! Baden-Powell stayed at the hotel and loved to observe the wild animals from Treetops. He became a shareholder in his friend Walker's hotel concern so that a 'cottage' could be built which became his final home, Paxtu, where he died in 1941.

Both Walker and Wakefield were appointed after the camp as 'Scout Inspectors'. Walker for Wales and the South of England, Wakefield for Scotland and the North of England.

Mr Henry Holt went on to become the Scout Association Quartermaster, and a permanent employee of the Scout Association, running what became the Scout Shop. Percy Everett contributed to an article about Holt in the HQ Gazette in December, 1913, which was part of the Some of our Workers series. Sir Percy says that he himself was 'chiefly responsible' for recruiting Holt to the position of Quartermaster at Humshaugh, where his sympathy with the boys and his grasp of detail made him a great success.

Captain D Colbron Pearse the Joint Commandant of the camp, was also responsible for the Bulls Patrol and is mentioned on an almost daily basis in the diary of participant H Thompson. In 1908, Baden-Powell encouraged the formation of committees in large centres of population and this work was assisted by Pearse, who was appointed by the Chief to act as a kind of travelling 'organising secretary'. Colbron Pearse was one of the earliest Scoutmasters in North East London, founding the 1st Hampstead Scout Group, which gave demonstrations of Scouting across the country prior to the Humshaugh camp. He had camped with his boys at Grindon with Colonel Vaux's Lampton Street Vendors' Club Scouts in May 1908 (see The Background above) and went on to become the Commissioner for North East London. He was presented with a Honorary Silver Wolf by the Chief Scout. (The award, at this time, was normally earned by boys on gaining the King's Scout badge and a certain number of proficiency badges.) Other than that, no other biographical material has yet been discovered on Captain Pearce. It seems surprising that such a prominent leader should disappear into obscurity, but that appears to be the case. Milestones would welcome further information on this Scouting pioneer.

Mr J L C Booth - When this article was written in late 2001, I knew nothing whatsoever about Booth and was unable to find anything more about him, despite continuing research. Then, early in 2004, an Angela Booth wrote to Milestones from Sydney, Australia, to say that whilst searching for details of her Grandfather's cousin, J L C Booth, she came up with this Site. Prior to that, she had no idea that her relative was in any way connected with Baden-Powell or the Scout Movement, but both she and I are now convinced that we have an interest in the same man!

J L C Booth
John Booth, his pipe and his constant companion

John Lionel Calvert Booth was born on October 28th, 1876 at Killerby Hall, near Catterick, in the North Riding of Yorkshire. His father died when he was ten years old and his mother took the family to live, at least for a period, to Bushey, in Hertfordshire. John was a very talented artist who, as a child, illustrated and wrote stories for the rest of the extended Booth family. He was educated at Forest School, Epping Forest, Essex and went on to become a war correspondent for, amongst others, Punch. In the Boer War, a photo exists of him on-board a ship en-route to South Africa, along with a young Winston Churchill. It may have been from his time in South Africa, or on one of the 'Castle' ships that plied between England and the Cape, that he met Baden-Powell. He also spent a total of 15 years with the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, so, as B-P was Inspector of Cavalry after the Boer War, that might alternatively have been where they met.

J L CBooth illustrated a number of publications and had a few books of his own published - he loved to draw hunting scenes, which had formed a large part of his childhood, as both his parents were keen hunters with the Bedale. He also had a very keen sense of humour which shines through in both his writing and illustrations.

He married Margaret (Daisy) Dockerill, also a talented artist, in 1905 and they had two sons John Calvert and Arthur Frank, both of whom were to die in The Second World War. John Booth covered the Balkans conflict, also for Punch, from 1912 to 1913, after which he and his family emigrated to Western Australia in 1914. He had only been there for 9 months when The First World War broke out and he enlisted in the ANZAC. He died on March 28th, 1915, as a result of wounds received at Gallipoli. Amongst his possessions listed as being returned to his wife was his beloved banjo which went everywhere with him. His wife and children returned to England after the War, following a period with other Booth relations in South Africa. Today, there are two grand-daughters living in England and a number of great grandchildren.

It was the mention of the banjo in Angela Booth's biography of her relative that clinched the identification. The odds of having three initials and a surname correct and in the same order are very great indeed, but we know, both from Angela's account and from Humshaugh diarists, that John Booth never went anywhere without his banjo. The role this banjo, John Booth's talent and his humour were to play in the story of the Humshaugh camp will be seen later in this article, and a once shadowy figure emerges into the light as yet another 'identification' is accomplished through the power of the Internet.


FINALLY, there is a letter in the UK Scout Archive from a Rev W J Hatchley dated May 19th, 1982, in which he suggests that there were two American instructors at Humshaugh. In 2002, through the wonders of the Internet and via the intermediary of his friend Mr J Telfer, an ex-Newcastle Scout, I was able to talk to the Rev Walter Hatchley. It transpired that we had both researched the Humshaugh Camp in some depth, Walter in 1985, whilst writing his booklet The Best Scout that England Ever Had, and me more recently, being totally unaware of the work he had done. We had read the same diaries and trod many of the same paths. Walter was able to help me with the site of the well on the Humshaugh plan of the campsite (shown above) which I had read in the original diary as the word 'West', and who I thought might have been one of the two American instructors that he had found some evidence for. Unfortunately, many of Walter's records are now lost and he could not recall any further information regarding the 'American Instructors' other than in his booklet, which refers to an account of the camp published by the Newcastle Daily Journal on August 25th, 1908 and states "Two ex-cowboys from America are included in the scouts' instructors." Walter noted that if this otherwise uncorroborated information is correct, it is very early evidence of the international dimension to Scouting. Tantalisingly, the Patrol Leader of Curlews records in his diary (see below) that on Monday 31st August, there was a new Scoutmaster. However, other than the initial letter, his name, F--------- , is indecipherable. The name appears to have a total of 10 letters. There is more detective work to be done here!


The Daily Programme

  • 06.30 - Turn out, air bedding. Coffee and biscuit
  • 07.00 - Physical exercises or Instruction Parade
  • 07.30 - Stow tents and wash
  • 08.00 - Prayers & Flagbreak.
    (See Flagbreak photo under 'Organisation')
  • 08.30 - Breakfast
  • 09.00 - Scouting practice
  • 11.00 - Biscuit and milk
  • 11.30 - Scouting games
  • 13.30 - Dinner
  • 14.00 - Rest (Compulsory)
  • 15.00 - Scouting Games
  • 17.30 - Tea
  • 18.00 - Recreation.Camp Games
  • 19.30 - Camp Fire
  • 21.00 - Biscuits and Milk. Turn in
  • 21.30 - Lights out

Camp Diaries.

THE information which follows is a compilation from various sources. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, the sources do not all agree! Where there is contradiction in the writing of adults, B-P's own account, (from his diary, quoted by the Rev. Aiden Pickering in the December 1954 issue of The Scouter) is the one used.

Henry Thompson, then aged 15, of the Bulls Patrol was from St Helen's and his diary is intact in the UK Scout Archive. Where Henry's account has anything new to add it is credited as '(HT)'. His diary is physically identical to another in the UK Scout Archive belonging to a Beaulieu Camper, written a year later in 1909. This leads me to surmise that all the boys in both camps were issued with the same diaries by B-P. There was a competition for the 'Best Diary' at both camps. Henry's diary may not have won, but it was inscribed by B-P:

"This diary records pretty well what you did, but little of what you saw or learnt - that is your experiences and your impressions - which really are the most important things to put in a diary. Your diagrams illustrating the notes are good."

Along with a Copy of Scouting for Boys, Henry was given a signed photo of B-P.

Amazingly, another Humshaugh diary has been discovered in the Canadian Scout Archives. Unfortunately, the participant is unnamed, but he discloses that Mr Wakefield (see above) elected him patrol leader of Curlews. His contributions to the daily record are credited '(CSA)'.

It is possible that the diaries were issued on Sunday 23rd August, the day after the camp started, as neither of the two surviving documents have any entries before then. It should be noted that many of the activities were patrol- or troop-based so all participants did not do the same thing at the same time.


Saturday 22nd August Dry all day.
Scouts arrive at Fourstones Railway Station and march along roads just over a mile due north to the campsite. Trains still thunder through the Tyne Valley, but they no longer stop at Fourstones. The platforms have gone, and the waiting room (shown on the right) is now a private dwelling.

Fourstones Station

B-Pwas not there to meet them, as he was inspecting a Territorial Army Unit on that day. B-P's diary sadly records that his little dog 'Taffy' was killed when he fell out of B-P's car and was strangled by his lead and collar, which attached the dog to the car.

As far as I know the photograph shown here is previously unpublished. It is un-attributed but held in UK Scout Archives. Is this B-P's car involved in the terrible death of his dog 'Taffy' mentioned above?

Humshaugh car with Scouts

Sunday 23rd August Occasional Showers.
Visit to Chesters Roman fort and the Roman Wall. Bathing in River Tyne. Camp Fire with B-P. (Chesters, as you can see from the photograph, is exceptionally well-preserved. It is the best example of a Roman Cavalry Fort in the country. Underfloor heating systems and mosaics are still visible. Its strategic importance was immense, once being connected to a stone bridge over the River North Tyne.)

From Baden-Powell's diary: "Motored to Hexham and saw Canon Savage re. service on Sunday for Scouts." (Is this the Wednesday meeting referred to by the Hexham Courant reporter? See below.) "Afternoon: Scouts marched to the wall and to Haughton [sic] Castle (Mr Cruddas) and had tea in the stable in the rain."
B-P had set out a 'Quest'. In his letter to The Scout 12th September:- "The theme for two days and nights is 'The Quest of King Arthur', who has been asleep in some hidden cave in this very area."

Chesters Roman Fort

B-P was much intrigued with Arthurian legend and often used images from these tales in his writings - though he admitted that there were hundreds of such sites throughout England. This may have been the day they found the cave! Certainly B-P came back to the Arthurian theme in his final talks to the boys before they left the camp.

Houghton Castle (shown here in an old print) was built around 1200 A.D. and is on an imposing site on the banks of the North Tyne, though the view is not so spectacular from the lanes the Scouts marched along to get to it. The picture below right shows Houghton Castle as it is today.

Old print of Houghton Castle

Monday 24th August. Overcast and raining
a.m. Physical exercises led by Mr Wakefield. (CSA)
Setting up a loom in the woods and building a hut. (B-P)
Bivouac and straw mattress making. (CSA)
p.m. made ration bags with needle and thread, short game of football, then a local showed us how to make bread without yeast or chemicals. (CSA)
Evening. Music round the Campfire (CSA)
talk. 'Hints on Tracking by Captain Pearse. (HT)

The picture below shows the very hut built in the woods on 24th August, as depicted on an early postcard which B-P had commissioned as a way of instructing other Scouts. The second line of the caption reads: Boy Scouts at Lieut.-General Baden-Powell's Holiday Camp.    No. 3.

Houghton Castle today

Tuesday 25th August. 'Was wet, very wet.' (Henry Holt - Quartermaster)
Splicing and whipping ropes by the three S.M.s. (B-P)
Built foundation of Campfire. Fire lighting race between Bulls and Curlews. (HT)
Indoors games in Marquee. Physical Drill. (B-P)
Rope splicing and lesson in Photography. (CSA)
Map Reading and Use of the Compass with Captain Pearse. (HT)
After tea finished bivouac. (CSA)

This may have been the evening that Donald Baden-Powell was thought to be 'lost'. (It was certainly before the 29th as Miss Taylor of Chipchase Castle says her family had some fun with B-P about the incident - but B-P stolidly maintained that the 'night exercise had been a useful experiment for the Scouts.')

The hut in the woods postcard

Donald had crawled into his tent to escape the rain, and apparently for warmth, crept under his mattress thus escaping the attention of the first searchers. He was eventually found by Baden-Powell, but not before the whole camp had been roused to look for him in the pouring rain.

The whole affair was recalled at a campfire in a song written by Scoutmaster Victor Bridges. Part of which is quoted below.

And three Scoutmasters with their troops
In Scout formation went
With lanterns, poles and tracking irons
And searched his spacious tent.

.    .

Until at last B-P himself
Declared he would explore
That mighty cavernous dome where Donald
Did his nightly snore.

You recollect how all their toil
Abortive proved in vain
And how we wandered through the wood
Amid the pelting rain!

And prodding fiercely in the dark
He struck some muddy boots
Invoobo! Zing a zing. Bom Bom!
Gonyama! We are Scoots!

Donald Baden-Powell in his article in The Scouter August 1929, refers to this incident when the 'youngest boy' went missing, but never revealed that it was himself!

Wednesday 26th August. Sunny Day.
a.m. Collected firewood. (HT)
Practice in smoke signals and preparation of Hunter's Stew. (CSA)
p.m. Captain Pearse instructed in reading compass. Camp Fire. Walked to Houghton Castle and visited some Roman Walls. (HT)
Houghton Park scene of cruel deeds, looked round dungeons and made our own tea. Ambushes on the way home. Saw part of the Roman Wall. (CSA)

Thursday 27th August. Showery Day (B-P)
6.30 Rose. P.E. with Mr Wakefield, changed position of tent. Played 'Scout meets Scout', our Patrol Curlews against Bulls. Draw. (CSA)
11a.m. Patrol Activities. First Aid Instruction with Captain Pearse. (HT)
p.m. Visit to Houxty, - home of Mr Chapman, Naturalist, big game hunter and author. [Owner of the Humshaugh campsite] (B-P)
Marched after dinner via the Wall to Houxty, where Abel Chapman put us up. Ground very wet and rain falling, so we put up in loft and harness room. (B-P)
On the way saw the Roman ditch and mound. Halted at a farm and brewed tea over a camp fire. (HT)
Failed to erect tent, slept in the Horse Hall which contained peat. (CSA)
I felt every bone in my body in the morning. (HT)

Houxty (shown right) was the home of Abel Chapman. The stables that the boys stayed in still exist at the rear of the house.

Houxty

Friday 28th August. Cold and rain all day. (B-P)
Physical drill ½ hr (HT)
in saddle room with Capt. Pearse. (CSA)
Stretcher drill. (HT)
p.m. tracking, whistles and hand signals. (HT)
Houxty, raining all day. Indoors in stables, life saving etc. Chapman showed the boys his collection of heads etc. (B-P) The 'heads' were Chapman's collection of mounted Big Game trophies, much enjoyed by the boys.
It was a fine sight well worth going a long way to see. Signalling practice with Capt.Pearse. (CSA)
5.30 Tea. Had campfire, heard phonograph. (CSA)
At night P.L.s went out rabbit shooting. (HT)

Saturday 29th August. Cold all day, though cloudy bright.
7. a.m. Got up. P.E. in Mr Chapman's grounds. (CSA)
10.a.m. Paraded to march to Chipchase Castle. Had lunch at Wark. (CSA)
On the way back an 'incident' ambush of the main group was arranged. Tea was taken in Wark Town Hall. Chipchase Castle was in the ownership of the Taylor family and a Miss Taylor in 1954 well remembered B-P's "...delightful breezy personality...and the complete control he had over the boys."
5.30 Arrived back in camp. (CSA)
9.30 Turned in. (CSA)

Chipchase today is shown on the right. The older part of the castle is just visible behind the house. Many of Northumberland's ancient houses started off as fortified 'Peel' towers, suitable for fending off the fierce 'border rievers' from both sides of the Wall, who raged constant war on one another's cattle.

Chipchase Castle

Sunday 30th August. A cold day but with some sunshine.
a.m. Clearing camp. (HT)
11:30 Church Parade conducted by B-P.
After dinner the campers marched to Hexham via Fourstones, Warden Bridge, and along the main road.
Arrived Hexham 3.15 p.m. When we got there we saluted the statue of Benson who was a great scout. (HT)

Colonel C E Benson, ex-Royal Artillery, was with B-P during the Ashanti Campaign of 1895, and later, during the Boer War, was in command of a column at Elandskloof in 1901. He was responsible for a considerable rout amongst the Boers, capturing many men and materials. He died in battle in October 1901. The statue, shown here, was erected by public subscription amongst his Hexham neighbours, with whom he was obviously a popular hero. No wonder B-P got his Scouts to salute his memory.

The Camp Quartermaster, Henry Holt wrote,
"Our visit to Hexham caused considerable stir in the quaint little town. And our route to the Abbey was lined by hundreds of enthusiastic lookers-on who viewed the little regiment of Boy Scouts with awe and wonder."

Benson Memorial

There was a short service by the Rev. Sydney Savage, who outlined the history of the Abbey (pictured right). Afterwards, the Scouts marched to General Sir Loftus Bates house at 'Spital', had tea, and then marched back to camp via the Roman site known as 'The British Camp' near Warden.
Reached home 7.30 p.m. (HT)
Camp Fire 8.30 p.m. (CSA)

The town was thronged with onlookers the day B-P and his Boy Scouts came to town. The Rev Aiden Pickering met a Hexham businessman in the 1950s, who was proud that B-P had stopped to talk to him on his walk to the Abbey.

Hexaham Abbey

Monday 31st August. Fine all day, but heavy rain in the evening.
P.E with new Scout Master Mr F--------. (CSA)
Work day. (B-P)
Took tent sections into wood and built tent. (HT)
Badge-work. Some second and first class badges completed and presented by B-P.
Those not going in for them (the badges) went to the river for a swim. (HT)
Basketball.
Rested expecting night manoeuvres which never occurred. (CSA) [Obviously cancelled due to the heavy rain.]
Stormy night.

B-P demonstrates Campcraft

The previously unpublished photograph, above right, shows B-P (in the foreground) practising campcraft at Humshaugh. The photograph is in very poor condition, but is included here because of its historical value.

Tuesday 1st September. Heavy showers though the day.
a.m. Patrol Drill raising section tents as practice for Sports on Wednesday. (HT)
Made straw ropes. Played 'Bang the Bear'. (CSA)
Badgework
1st Class tests. (HT)
p.m. Had debate in Bull's tent, 'Should rabbits be kept in tents' this was the first debate of the 'Wall Debating Society'. (CSA)
Evening Lecture by Col. Coulson on 'Kindness to Animals'. (CSA)

Wednesday 2nd September. Changeable. Heavy showers through the day.
6.a.m. Rose. Spent all morning preparing for sports. (CSA)
Sports Day began at 2.p.m.

"A considerable number of people assembled, consisting mostly of the friends of the boys, [As only one lived nearer than Sunderland 36 miles distant, this is a little hard to credit] with a few villagers. The various items created considerable interest, and the day proved a perfect success. The audience were delighted with different items, such as tracking, cockfighting, pole-jumping, bang the bear, mattress making, all of which were gone through with commendable skill. The most interesting feature of the day was left until last. This was a highly exciting incident called "The Attack on the Camp", and the boys that took part in it well deserved the loud applause that rewarded their efforts."
Report in The Scout by the Camp Quartermaster (Henry Holt) September 19th, 1908

A Mr George Ward-Price was invited to this event by B-P in a letter dated August 15th, now in the UK Scout Archives. The letter says that the 'day for demonstrating our work' was to be on September 3rd.
Glorious tea. (CSA)
After tea, the Scouts practised lighting fires using only two matches.
Fire lighting competition won by Bulls. In the 'Bang the Bear' competition. H Thompson was the bear! (HT)
Campfire. (CSA)

Thursday 3rd September. Overcast but dry.
7 a.m. P.E. (CSA)
Assisting farmer with fence mending. (B-P)
Self-Measurement as on p. 116 Scouting for Boys. First Aid with Capt. Pearse. (HT)
Did camp fire for 1st Class Badge. (CSA)
1.49 Marched to Fourstones Railway Station and took train to Newcastle upon Tyne where the Armstrong Whitworth Armoury works at Elswick were visited. (B-P)
Went on a boat called 'Calliope' and a large crane. (HT)
Saw motorbuses. Some of us fired guns. Visited old Warship HMS Calliope used by the Naval Reserve as a training ship. (CSA) [B-P used the fascinating history of this ship as the basis for one of his later yarns]
6.00 Arrived back in camp. Campfire, B-P yarns about Mafeking. (CSA)

The Elswick (pronounced el-sick) Works were one of the biggest employers on Tyneside and were founded by William Armstrong, who was knighted in 1859 and made Lord Armstrong of Cragside in 1887. A largely self-made man who invited the Hydraulic Crane, Armstrong's works were responsible for producing warships, armaments and, later on, tanks and even planes. He was joined in 1860 by Andrew Noble, a gunnery expert, who resigned his army commission to join the Company. Noble became a partner of Armstrong's, rose to become Company Chairman on Armstrong's death in 1900 and was made a Baronet in 1902. Sir Andrew Noble was the father of George Noble, who served with Baden-Powell from 1886 and shared many adventures with him in Afghanistan and India in the 13th Hussars, and Saxton Noble (the 3rd Baronet), who lived near to the Humshaugh camp and who, as already mentioned, had helped fund the Brownsea Experimental Camp in 1907, which was attended by his two boys Marc and Humphrey, the latter also taking part in the Humshaugh camp. It is not, then, hard to see just how it was that the Humshaugh campers came to visit the Elswick factory.

Friday 4th September. Dry, though cloudy.
6 a.m. P.E. Pulled down bivouacs in forest. Bathing parade. (CSA)
p.m. Flag raiding game. In his final address to the lads round the campfire, B-P again conjured up the spirit of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, "You must never forget", he said, "that the distinguishing mark of a Scout should be unselfishness. He should always think of others and try to help them before thinking of himself."

Sir Percy Everett recalled: Humshaugh Campfire
This Campfire was photographed at Humshaugh. B-P commissioned a set of postcards from these images in the belief that they could be used to 'spread the message'

"In order to mark the occasion, the campfire was bigger than usual and its livid flames brought into bold relief the happy faces of the boys whose glorious holiday was so nearly at an end. I wish all ... could have heard the General's inspiring and encouraging words. He congratulated the boys on their cheeriness and hoped he would meet them all again in similar circumstances. He was cheered into the night."

The campfires, as at Brownsea, were perhaps the best remembered features of the camp. Henry Holt recollected,

"At the campfire he (B-P) was great and kept the pace going with song and story."
"An amazing amount of latent talent developed as the fortnight went on. The General himself could always be relied upon for a song or recitation of the No. 1 order, whilst the Scoutmaster Booth, with his banjo and his endless repertoire, provided a sure guarantee that proceedings never flagged. The Scouts themselves were great, especially in the chorus line, and the way 'Clementine', 'The Old Folks at Home', and other more modern melodies used to go rolling and echoing over those lonely fells, showed that in lung power at least every Scout was thoroughly efficient."
Report in The Scout, September 26th, 1908


WITH the campfire songs of yesteryear ringing in our ears, we leave these pioneers of our Movement and return to today. The stone wall pictured above still runs in front of the Carr Edge Plantation above the campsite, but is lost in the shadow on the recent photograph of the site shown above in the 'Location' section.


Personal Comment

Map of Humshaugh area

HAVING lived in Northumberland for three years and led hiking parties in the vicinity of the Humshaugh Camp, I feel that the most obvious and dramatic 'target' for a day's hike may have been overlooked. About the same distance from the campsite as Houxty, is Crag Lough. The Lough is a lake laying beneath the Roman Wall, which sits airily on top of the Whin Sill, a dramatic north-facing cliff. Surely, this must be one of the most inspiring views in the country, providing excellent scrambling as well as real rock climbs.

The Roman Wall in the vicinity of the campsite at the points the Humshaugh 'marches' crossed it, consists of only mounds and ditches, and this is confirmed by Henry Thompson's diary who, as you would expect from a lad of 15, honestly records how 'underwhelmed' he was - "visited some roman walls" and "saw the roman ditch and mound".

The Camp Itinerary does seem to contain a great deal of 'marching' along roads to castles and houses - which though very scenic, no doubt instructive, and certainly of great social standing, does not in retrospect appear to be very enthralling. The weather though was appalling. The local Meteorological Station at Morpeth, 20 miles distant from the camp, records a total of 2.7 inches of rain for the ten days of the camp and perhaps some of these visits were only 'wet weather alternatives'.


I visited Houxty to take the photograph featured in the Camp Diary above (see above in the Camp Diary for Thursday 27th & Friday 28th August). The present owners were able to tell me about the former owner, Mr Chapman, an author, naturalist and 'White Hunter', who also owned the 'Humshaugh' campsite. Classes from the local school used to inspect his collection of 'Big Game' trophies and birds' eggs, before the house was sold. Happily, many of these artefacts are now in the Hancock Natural History Museum in Newcastle, where they are very attractively presented in a modern gallery - Abel's Ark.

Abel Chapman was born in 1851 and inherited his father's Sunderland wine-importing business when he was 18. In the course of his wine-buying he was able to explore the countries he visited and study his obsession, natural history. After 30 years of hard work in the wine trade, he bought Houxty in 1899 to concentrate on his hobby. He wrote eleven books on natural history, based on his meticulously-kept and illustrated diaries, and undertook numerous expeditions all over the world. The Hancock Museum cites Abel Chapman as being responsible for the discovery of the wild lynx in Spain and for the establishment of the first National Park in South Africa - it was his suggestion that it should be in the area now known as Kruger National Park. When Abel Chapman died, his eleventh book lay unfinished on his death bed, to be taken up and later published by his friend George Bolam in 1929. As the book was entitled Memories Four Score less two it seems to indicate that Abel Chapman was 78 when he died, which would have also been in 1929.

The present owners of Houxty were unaware of the visit of the Boy Scouts in August, 1908 and the central role that a one-time owner of the house had had on the world's first Scout Camp. I hope that the information in this article is some small reward for the kindness they showed me on my visit.


IN October, 2002, I received an unexpected email from Tony Jackson of Ontario, Canada:-
"Very interested to hear that the Scouts with Lord Baden-Powell had stayed at Houxty. My father bought Houxty from Tom Chapman, [the nephew of Abel Chapman] in 1948. I remember arriving there for the first time at the age of eight and being overwhelmed by the heads of big game that were still hanging all over the house. The majority of these trophies were sent to the Hancock Museum in Newcastle, except for one water buffalo, which we retained in the hall. My mother would hang decorations from its horns at Christmas. My family sold the estate in 1982 following my father's death. It was a wonderful place to grow up, with so much to do and see, especially if one liked the outdoors. ... your web page ... brought back memories of all the places I knew and visited as a boy. Incidentally, it was using a search engine to find articles on Abel Chapman that led me to your site."
I am very grateful to Mr Jackson (and the astonishing powers of the Internet!) for giving me this information, which has filled gaps in my knowledge of the history of Houxty.

We received an equally unexpected email in December 2003. This was from Hugh Johnson, living in New Plymouth, New Zealand:-
"I am a 'retired' Scout and Scout Leader in New Zealand. My father, Joseph Johnson, was born in 1903 in Hexham and at that time my Grandfather, Thomas Newbegin Johnson, ran the general store. Grandfather was actually born in the shop, two doors from the Moot Hall and which was, when I visited Hexham, a chemists' shop.
"In October 1961, my sister had a working holiday in the United Kingdom and my grandfather wrote a few notes of places to see while she was there. I have a copy of these notes and when my wife I were in the UK in 1997, I used grandfather's notes that had been written over 30 years earlier. (Grandfather passed away in 1970). His notes contained the following:-
"'Proceeding - after leaving "Chesters" a road takes off to the left, leads to Walwick Grange (about one mile) where the first Boy Scout Camp was held. A memorial has been erected on the site. (At that time I was the only stockist of Motor Spirit between Newcastle and Carlisle and Baden-Powell asked me to supply him with a stock for his own use at the camp. We were there a few times with supplies - I remember once Grandma was with me and she was worried when a bee got into the car as she had your Dad with her, he was only a baby then. Bee got out)' "

Again, we are delighted to be able to add yet more information on the Humshaugh Camp - How different motoring must have been in those days!


The Aftermath.

THERE is no doubt the camp was a great success, especially from the boys' perspective. This from participant John A H Coats:-

"Although the weather was not of the best, I had the very best holiday of my life. if all camps were like yours, every boy would want to be camping out.
"...As for our good general, how we all loved him! he was also so cheery and kind to us and always willing to show us things we did not understand.
"I am sure that every boy in camp must wish to go there again next year."
Old Etonian E H J Wynne wrote,
"I say without hesitation that I had one of the best times of my life there..."
H Thompson of Bulls agrees:
"It was the finest time of my life..."

Just as at Brownsea, the campfires were often recalled as being the most memorable feature of the camp led, of course, by B-P himself. One campfire song written by Scoutmaster J L C Booth (the banjo-player at the last campfire of the camp) had a verse that summed up the weather.

You may think that existence is not worth a duckat.
In thirty knot gales that bring rain by the bucket;
But if you start grousing the Scouts'll say, "Chuck it.
Why this is the weather that keeps us in form!"

A Report in the Hexham Courant, Saturday, August 22nd, 1908

THE Courant, Hexham's long-established local paper, carried but one report on the camp. We are told that the camp was on 'a lonely hill near Chollerford', which seems a surprising description of the location from a local reporter, though it is in fact half a mile nearer to the actual site than B-P's own description of Humshaugh. The article carries an outline of the daily routine of the camp. The un-attributed reporter used a London paper to source the information that the boys were to visit the Abbey for the Sunday service the following day, but he then comes up with his own minor 'scoop' that the service attended might be (as was indeed the case) one week later. It appears that B-P visited the Abbey to arrange matters with Cannon Savage on the previous Wednesday, the 19th of August, though B-P's own diary has this happening on Sunday 23rd. (This could have been a second visit.) B-P would have probably attended the Abbey Sunday service anyway.

One fresh piece of information from the article, is that the boys all wore red neckerchiefs. This is interesting as of course the boys, coming from existing troops, would have all have had their own group neckers. This must surely be the earliest recorded use of the 'Jamboree Necker'.

The report contains the news that the boys were "...expected to remain in the district until about the middle of next week when they shift their quarters to Blyth for fresh experience by the sea." though this seems to contradict 'the scoop' that the boys were to remain another week for the following Sunday Abbey service.

The projected seaside stay is not confirmed by any other source and the event did not happen. Perhaps it was merely another casualty of the appalling weather. If it were an established part of the plan it would have supplied the 'missing ingredient' at this camp - water activities - so much a feature at Brownsea and again at the 'Third Holiday Camp' at Beaulieu that it does seem surprising not to find any provided at the Humshaugh camp. "fresh experience by the sea" at Blyth as mentioned by the Courant reporter would appear to be a credible notion.

The article is up-beat saying that "General Baden Powell of Mafeking fame" was the "teacher" for the 36 boys encamped.

"The movement which was initiated by the General little over a year ago, has made rapid progress, there being patrols in almost every town in the country ... Scouting ... imparts a valuable training, no matter what his [the boy's] avocation in after life may be."

I am extremely indebted to the Editor of the Hexham Courant, Mrs Eve Fuller and to Mrs C Jane Dodd, Editorial Assistant, for providing me with a copy of the article.


The cairn

Humshaugh Campsite Today

IN 1929, a local stonemason, Mr N Peart, with the help of the 3rd Hexham Scout Group, raised a cairn to mark the 21st Birthday of Scouting. There is an engraved inscription on a natural outcrop facing the cairn, which reads "B. P. 1908 LOOK WIDE". In 1950 a plaque was added to the cairn. It reads.
"This cairn marks the site of the first Boy Scout Camp held in 1908 by B-P., later Lord Baden Powell of Gilwell, Chief Scout of the World."
Since then additional plaques have been added to mark the visits of Chief Scouts Lord Rowallan, Malcolm Michael Walsh and Garth Morrison. The outcrop has since been engulfed by the plantation, but is well maintained.


The Baden-Powell Walk.Lookwide B-P badge

IT is possible to undertake a 'Heritage Walk' to the Humshaugh Campsite from Fourstones Station, under the auspices of Northumberland Scout Council. Participants can purchase a special badge, certificate and woggle. The scheme is based on the nearby 'Lookwide' Campsite'. Recently, in Scouting magazine (see below for reference) there was an article by a Finnish Cub Scout, who completed the walk in July 2000 and signed in the special visitors book held at the Lookwide Campsite as participant 14,060.


Lookwide camp certificateLookwide walk certificate
Certificates Awarded
Lookwide badge
The 'B-P Walk' Badge
Lookwide woggles
90th Anniversary nametape and woggles

The Significance of the Camp.Eengonyama Lantern Slide

THE Humshaugh camp was planned from first to last as a 'model', not only for those who had already joined the burgeoning Scout Movement but also for the world at large. It was designed to show what Scouting was all about. There was press coverage in the national newspapers and B-P had postcards and magic lantern slides, like the one shown here, made as training aids. The lads were encouraged to go home and spread the word. The rest as they say is History! Within weeks the The Scout announced a bigger and better camp with B-P to be held the following year.

The Lanternslide is part of series, which, like the postcards, was produced from 'Humshaugh' images and made on the orders of B-P to be sold through Scouting publications in order to instruct others not fortunate enough to attend the camp.


Conclusion.

AT the beginning of 1908, Scouting was still embryonic. By the end of the year there were over 50,000 Scouts in Great Britain. 'Humshaugh Camp', either directly or through the training materials it generated, was inspirational and showed that Scouting was a practical possibility. Camping as the central part of the Scout programme was established and, nearly one hundred years on, remains just as vital and compelling.

In 1935 and 1938 Sir Percy Everett returned to 'Humshaugh' with 1,000 scouts from Northumberland and County Durham, as well as members of the 'Train Cruise'. At the time of writing this article, I knew nothing of these 'Train Cruises'. However, subsequent research yielded sufficient information for the 'Train Cruises' to become a part of the Milestones series. As always, if anyone knows anything more about them, I would be grateful for any information.

Sir Percy wrote,

"... the field, the woods, the rocks, just as they were when the Chief gathered his Scouts around him in 1908. No new houses, no new main roads to change the landscape, but just as of old, a perfect camping ground."

Ninety-three years on and it is still just the same, and probably just as hard to find!


The author of these pages, Colin Walker (Johnny), is to publish a companion volume to his book Brownsea: B-P's Acorn, The world's First Scout Camp 1907-2007 entitled Humshaugh: B-P's Holiday Camp the start of the World Scout Movement 1908-2008. The new book can be expected to be published prior to January 2008.







Appendix - HMS Calliope
HMS Calliope

THE HMS Calliope visited by the 'Humshaugh' camp on Thursday, 3rd September, 1908, was not the first or the last vessel to bear the name. Named after the Greek Muse of epic poetry and pronounced 'kally-o-pea', she was launched in 1884 as a Third Class 2270-ton sail and steam Cruiser and had a very eventful career before being pensioned off as a training ship. The Chief Scout in one his 'Yarns' (published in September 1918) recalled an incident when HMS Calliope was anchored at Apia, Samoa.

On 15th March, 1889, a hurricane struck Apia trapping three American and three German warships in the harbour. Only HMS Calliope succeeded in escaping to sea. By the morning of the 16th, the storm increased in ferocity and battered the six remaining vessels unmercifully. All three German ships sank, as did two of the US ships, the third, the Nipsic, though severely damaged, managed to beach and survive the storm.

This story of heroism is well known in Australia and New Zealand. The Prince of Wales, before he became King George V, on a visit to New Zealand was invited to walk through an arch of Wesport Coal, without which, it was claimed, HMS Calliope would never had raised sufficient steam to fight her way to safety.

HMS Calliope (B&W)

HMS Calliope later fought with the Australian fleet in the Boxer rebellion and became a training ship in 1908, so she could not have been at Newcastle long before the Humshaugh participants arrived. The ship later changed its name on the commission of a new HMS Calliope in 1915, but was allowed to return to her former name before she was eventually scraped in 1951.

There was at least one Royal Naval Reserve Training Ship also called HMS Calliope, moored on the river at Newcastle-upon-Tyne - there were certainly other vessels named Calliope on the Tyne used for naval training until at least the 1950's. I have yet to find their full history, but would not be surprised to find that the earliest one was the ship that took over the Calliope name in 1915.

The new Calliope took its part in the Battle of Jutland, where an event took place which rivals that of Jack Cornwell, especially as far as the Boys' Brigade is concerned:- "From the Senior Service there came the story of Boy William Walker. He was 16 years of age and a former member of the 4th London Company of The Boys' Brigade. William Walker became adept at bugling, and that stood him in good stead when he joined the Royal Navy. He became bugler aboard HMS Calliope when she led her squadron into the turmoil of the Battle of Jutland on 3lst May, 1916. 'Young Bill', as he was known, had to stand on the bridge with the Captain and sound the order 'Commence'. Thereafter he stood by his Captain through the fury of the fiercest naval battle of the war. Calliope was hit five times in her pursuit of the enemy destroyers. Late in the day a splinter of a shell struck Boy Walker, wounding him severely in the side. He stood at his post until he fainted from loss of blood. Later, in hospital, he was visited by His Majesty King George V and, greatest honour of all; he was given a specially inscribed bugle by the Admiral of the Fleet himself, 'Jellico of Jutland', in recognition of his gallantry." (This story is quoted from the Boys' Brigade Website 'Background. Armageddon and After.')

The name HMS Calliope, is still commemorated on Tyneside, the shore-based Royal Naval Reserve Training Establishment 'HMS Calliope', is to be found between the Gateshead Millennium Bridge (The Blinking Eye) and the magnificent new Gateshead Royal Opera House.


THE images are of works contemporary with the events:- The etching by W L Wylie shows HMS Calliope battling her way out to sea from Apia, Samoa in 1889. The water-colour is by George Frederick Gregory (c.1890). I am indebted to the Australian National Maritime Museum, it is their Collection No. 00019947 and is reproduced by courtesy of the Museum.


Acknowledgements

Printed Sources
The Scout 18th April, 1908
The Time of Their Lives, by The Camp Quartermaster (Henry Holt), The Scout, 5th September, 1908.
Letter from Baden-Powell to The Scout 12th September, 1908, outlining some of the itinerary
The Holiday Among the Hills by The Camp Quartermaster (Henry Holt), The Scout 12th September, 1908
Stirring Scenes at the Camp un-credited - probably by Percy Everett, 19th September, 1908
Boy Scouts in North Tyndale Article, Hexham Courant, Saturday, 22nd August, 1908
The Jolliest Life on Earth un-credited - probably by Percy Everett. Article containing a letter from participant John Coats The Scout, 26th September, 1908
An Old Etonian's Appeal E H J Wynne, Headquarters Gazette July 1912, p. 201
The Quartermaster (Mr H Holt). Some of Our Workers by Percy Everett, Headquarters Gazette October, 1913
Headquarters Gazette December 1916. Baden-Powell's obituary of 'Teddy' Wynne
The Scouter, August, 1929. Article by Donald Baden-Powell
The First Ten Years by Sir Percy Everett, 1948 pp. 31, 32
The Scouter, December, 1954. Article in on the Humshaugh Camp by The Rev. Aiden Pickering
Treetops Hotel Eric Sherbrooke Walker. Robert Hale, 1962
The Founding of the Boy Scouts as seen through the letters of Lord Baden Powell. Oct 1907- Oct 1908 Editor Paul C Richards. Published by The Standish Museums and Unitarian Church, East Bridgewater, Massachusetts 1973
The Best Scout that England Ever Had by Rev Walter J Hatchley B.A. Newcastle Eastern District Scout Council, 1985
Following in The Founder's Footsteps, Scout Magazine, July, 2001, p.64.
Emperor of Industry, Lord Armstrong of Cragside by Ken Smith, part of the Tyneside Trailblazers. Tyne Bridge Publishing, 2000
Internet Sources
Wide Awake Campsite
HMS Calliope images Australian National Maritime Museum
Some of the information on HMS Calliope came from http://homepage.idx.com.au/fdowsett/protec15.html/

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