District Scouting History

Robert Baden- Powell’s first experimental camp was held at Brownsea Island in August 1907. Encouraged by the success of this experiment Baden Powell set about writing his famous book ‘Scouting for Boys’. It was in 6 parts, published fortnightly at four pence a copy. The first part was published in 1908.

From its inception Scouting gave Scouts a ‘Promise and Law’. As each fortnightly edition came off the press it was snatched up and acted upon by the adventure seeking gangs of youngsters eager to try out B .P .s new game of Scouting. The gangs now called themselves ‘Patrols’ and these, under their own elected Patrol Leaders, joined forces, formed the nucleus of a Troop and searched around for an unsuspecting adult to become their Scout Master. There were some men who at once saw the value of the idea and started Troops themselves.


Littlehampton Carnival 1921 PHOTO: Littlehampton Town Museum

April 1908 saw the introduction of the ‘Scout’, a penny weekly. This provided an important link for the rapidly increasing bands of youngsters. In September a small Headquarters office was set up. Scouts registered directly with this office.

The movement grew so rapidly, (in 1909 60,000 ,in 1910 100,000) that the Founder and his team could barely keep up with it. It was soon decided that the Troops should be grouped together in ‘Districts’ as part of a ‘County’. As early as 1913 there was a Scout county of Sussex and within it a division then called South West Sussex District.

In 1912 a handful of 1st Arundel Scouts went to the department store of A.W.GAMAGE Ltd in Holburn, London, and, in conformity with the Post Office regulations of the day, entered the details of their amateur radio station when they were buying components for their amateur radio rig. In those days there was, of course, no ready-made gear.

This troop, which was stationed at the Swallow Brewery, Arundel, registered its call-sign as XBS. The rig was also licensed for portable apparatus work within a 5 mile radius most Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, and other times not fixed, according to the GAMAGE directory entry.

It was on the 19th March 1913 that the ‘Arundel and Littlehampton Local Association was registered with The Duke of Norfolk as President. It contained 4 Troops. The 1st Arundel run by Capt Constable, with Sgt Mills as his assistant( 40 strong), the 2nd Arundel run by the Rev MacCall, assisted by Sgt Dunworth(20 strong), the 1st Littlehampton run by Mr Kingdon and Mr Savill(18 strong), and the 2nd Littlehampton run by Mr E.P. Jay assisted by Mr Neal and Mr Polhill(27 strong). A total strength of 105!

The Great War started a year later and some confusion in the records arose. However by 1916 they had been going well over a year and they decided to have their first AGM. 1916 was also the year Wolf Cubs were formed. For one reason or another it was decided to re-register the ‘Local Association’ in February 1917 .This time instead of the Borough of Arundel, the Urban District of Littlehampton and the Parish of Lyminster being stated as ‘the area’, it now included the parishes of East Preston, Rustington, Angmering, Poling, Burpham, North Stoke, South Stoke, Tortington, Yapton, Ford and Climping. Troops now registered were 1st Arundel (now called Earl of Arundel’s Own) still run by Capt Guy Constable, St Philip’s Arundel (also called Earl of Arundel’s Own) run by Sgt Major Dunwoth, the 1st Littlehampton run by Lieut Barltrop, and the 2nd Littlehampton, the Scout Master shown as ‘Vacant (Capt Basil Constable killed in Action). Additionally Troops are shown at North & South Stoke (1916), Yapton & Ford (1916), and the 3rd Littlehampton (1916), Total strength 195.

The registration for 1924 shows the area of the District has been increased further to include the parishes of East & West Ferring and Patching but is now getting complicated! as it goes on- ‘also the whole of the area to the west of a line from the north boundary of the district at Highdown hill due south through Clapham inclusive, Goring railway station exclusive, to the sea at Coast Guard Station exclusive!’

Additional Troops now appearing are : 1st Angmering (1917) and 1st East Preston & Kingston.(1924) 1st Wick. (1924)The 2nd Littlehampton now shown as C of E Sea Scouts closed this year and is the first of the original 4 to disappear. North & South Stoke (1916) also disappears this year.
A new troop mentioned this year is the Millfield Troop (1923), this met in Rustington and was run from the Rustington Metropolitan Asylum Board. Also that year Wolf Cub packs were shown for the first time. They existed at 1st Arundel, 1st Littlehampton, Yapton & Ford, 1st East Preston & Kingston, Millfield (Rustington). 2 new names now appearing are shown as having Packs, 1st Ferring and 1st Rustington.

In 1928 ‘Groups’ were invented. All the Troops and Packs previously independent were formed into Groups. Several Troops which may have existed earlier were swept up in this registration of Groups. 1st Rustington, 3rd Littlehampton and 4th Littlehampton (R.C. St Franciscan Orphanage) are all shown as being formed in 1928. (The 4th closed 1932 but was to be reborn later).

In the years leading up to the second world war more Groups were started. 1929 -5th Littlehampton Sea Scouts and 2nd Rustington (Castlemere Boarding School) were opened. The 2nd closed in 1931.

There were two new Groups in 1930, 1st Clapham & Patching and 1st Amberley. Amberley closed 6 years later. In 1931 1st East Preston was formed but does not appear to be connected with the 1st East Preston & Kingston which was still going strong at this point. 1933 saw the formation of two short lived Groups 1st Burpham which lasted a year and 1st Climping which lasted 3 years.

The 6th Littlehampton was formed the following year (1934) and met in St John’s Hall, Surrey Street. The last pre war Group to start up. The 1939-45 war caused a great disruption in Scouting in this District, Scouters away at the War, youngsters evacuated and as an invasion coast, restricted.

A warrant dated 1943 lists two additional parishes Houghton and Warningcamp. The Registration for that year (the middle of the second world war) shows 16 Troops! but many have remarks pertinent to the War. 1st Angmering, 1st Arundel, 2nd Arundel, 1st Clapham & Patching (in abeyance) 1st East Preston, 1st Littlehampton, 3rd Littlehampton, 4th Littlehampton (closed 32, shown re opened). 5th Littlehampton (Sea Scouts), 6th Littlehampton (in abeyance), 8th Littlehampton (Evacuated), 1st Rustington, 1st Millfield (Rustington), 3rd Rustington (Evacuated), 1st Poling (Evacuated), 1st Ferring (in abeyance).
The war spelt the end for many Groups and 1943 marks the end for the following; 3rd Littlehampton, Millfield (Rustington), 1st East Preston & Kingston, 1st Wick, 1st Clapham & Patching, 3rd Rustington, 6th Littlehampton, 1st Poling and 8th Littlehampton makes its first and last appearance in 1943.

It took a long time for the District to recover from the war. The 2nd Arundel survived but closed down in 1955 (one of the originals). In 1952 Berets were permitted as alternative headwear. The 1957 registration was showing as survivors, 7 Troops; 1st Angmering (1917), 1st Arundel (1913), 1st East Preston (1931), 1st Littlehampton (1913), 4th Littlehampton 1928), 5th Littlehampton (1929), and 1st Rustington (1928).

In 1964 1st Yapton and Ford was restated. This Group had started in 1920 was transferred to Bognor Regis 1932-38 and closed during the war.

In 1966 Wolf Cubs were renamed Cub Scouts. In 1971 7th Littlehampton was formed, an amalgamation of 1st Littlehampton (1913, a founder member) and 3rd Littlehampton which had started again after the war.

In 1967 the Boy Scouts became Scouts, uniform for all changed and the Venture Scouts were launched. In 1973 1st Barnham was restarted, formed in 1920 but functioned mostly in Bognor District until its demise in 1938.

1975 Girls were admitted to Venture Units and in 1991 they were admitted to all sections. Beavers started ‘unofficially’ in 1982 and Beaver Scout Colonies became official in 1986.

1st Ferring Sea Scout Group who left the District some years back returned to Arundel and Littlehampton District in April 1999 from Worthing District.

In 2002 Scouting saw the introduction of a new uniform and new Programme to take Scouts into the 21st Century.

2007 saw the celebrations for Scouting’s Centenary and the District held a camp at Angmering at which 500 members of the District took part.

2013 saw the District celebrate its centenary with a District Camp at Ferny Crofts in the New Forest. 

2018 The Scout Associations new strategy is launched. Focused on providing Skills For Life and on continuing the growth of the membership of the movement. 

2020 The Coronavirus pandemic forces the suspension of face to face Scouting.