3rd Tynemouth

(Ritsons Own) Scout Group

Billy Mill Lane, North Shields, NE29 8LP

Bernard "Barney" Carr

Barney’s involvement with the Group started in 1959 when he became Senior Scout Master. Over the years he has been Assistant Scout Leader, Scout Leader and Group Scout Leader until he semi-retired in 1991 and took up the role of District Vice President, an appointment he held for over 60 years.

Barney passed away on the 21st of May 2013. This is his story.

Barney had been running a Troop in Gateshead when he moved to this area, he continued running it for a while before deciding it was time to call it a day and wrote to Gillwell resigning his warrant. At the same time his old DC wrote to the DC at Tynemouth telling him a Scouter had moved into his district and passed on his address. The DC (George Pilgrim) called on Barney and asked if he would help with a Troop but Barney explained he had resigned. George persuaded him to come and see the 3rd down in the haven, by the end of his visit he was the new Scout Master.

The Group had just had to vacate their old premises and was searching everywhere to get a headquarters of any sort. They got an old hut down at the haven.

He described it as being in a dreadful state, a ruin almost, holes in the floor, rats underneath chewing all the cables. There was an old pot bellied stove that just emitted smoke, very little heat. The hut had been a double skinned building but the inside layer had been used for firewood.

Barney got some wood left over from a job he was doing at work at Swan Hunters, which was used to patch up the inner skin of the hut, the Scouts then painted the fleur-de-lis and the Scout sign and various other pictures around the walls.

He can remember running a wide game in the haven a few months after moving from Gateshead which ended with the first patrol there launching a firework rocket (which had been the biggest the shop had) from a four foot length of pipe buried in the ground near the well at the priory. Once the patrol had done this everyone made their way back to the hut for soup and sausages and a singsong.

During the songs, a police patrol turned up asking if they had been responsible for launching a rocket at approximately XXXX hours. Barney proudly said they had and wasn’t it good and explained about the wide game, the police asked if he knew what colour it had been, to which Barney again proudly announced it had been a lovely red one and wasn’t it good. The police then explained how it had gone over the mouth of the river and had caused the lifeboat to be launched. Up until that point, Barney, being a countryman, had not known about red flares being used to launch the lifeboat.

He also remembers using Collingwood’s monument as a POW camp for a game, and getting two 6ft odd Scouts from his old Gateshead Troop to act as guards, stood at the foot of the stairs complete with Scout staves. The Ritson’s Scouts were “imprisoned” on the top part of the monument and were supposed to escape over the side using rope, which had been provided.

They had to incapacitate the guards enough to stop them following and then make their escape. Barney had envisaged them using the ropes to tie the “guards” up, but during the struggle one of the guards was knocked unconscious.

Wallace Rowley was the one who told him about the death of George Greenacre. He said that during the war, bicycles were a very rare thing for children because of the rubber for tyres and the wheels etc. Wallace, who idolised George, had been out early morning doing a paper round on his new bike when someone told him about the air raid warden being killed during the raid the night before. Wallace had dropped his bike and ran all the way home in floods of tears, all thoughts of his bike long forgotten.

Barney remembers working on the extension to the current headquarters. A group of scouts were acting as labourers for the brick layers and he can remember Adrian Nichol constantly talking to them at the top of the scaffolding.

They had a partition wall inside the hut, at the end where the flag is now, which had to be taken down. It was attached all the way round by bolts and used to form two rooms, one for the senior scouts and one which was a store. On the day they were taking it down Barney had turned up at the hut and was joined by Adrian Nichol. While they were waiting for everyone else to arrive they started taking every other bolt out, so it would be easier to get out. When the others arrived Barney found that Adrian had other ideas and had gone on to take more bolts out.

The wall collapsed and Barney narrowly escaped being quite seriously injured as he happened to be stood in the open doorway of the collapsing wall. It ended with him stood in a cloud of dust, just as if they had been in a cartoon.

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