3rd Tynemouth

(Ritsons Own) Scout Group

Billy Mill Lane, North Shields, NE29 8LP

Dave Kay

Dave Kay was a leader with us for about 6 months during a merger of his Troop with ours and is a long standing member of the guild. Dave describes how the merger took place and how we came to be based at Tynemouth Haven.

At the time Ritson’s had to pull down their hut at Billy Mill I was running the 21st Tynemouth (6th Tyne) Sea Scouts at the Haven.

There were three huts in the haven which were looked after by the army (at Fenham barracks) and were used to house the men operating the search lights etc at Tynemouth castle. The oil store plus generators mentioned by Bob Robson was actually in the moat (now filled in) in front of the castle along with a large two floored brick building and a nissen hut. Both these buildings were used to house troops during the war but were then left empty.

The very good hut was one of the three situated overlooking the “block yard” and Charlie Harris’s Sea Scout hut which was situated at the top end of the said “block yard”.

My sea scout troop used the large brick building for several years then, because of quite a large rent, we moved into the nissen hut and stayed there until the army needed to pull it down. That’s when we were offered and took up the use of the largest of the three huts mentioned above.

All three of the huts were occupied around that time (1960’s). The one nearest the river was used by Bill Cambell and his Tynemouth Congregational group. The second by North Shields motor club (run by a man called Rupert Doughty I think) and the third and largest by my troop (the 6th Tyne). The huts were in good repair and being double skinned and surrounded by a blast wall of brick with 3 or 4 stone steps leading to the front door. They were owned by the army (who looked after them) and my troop had a lease from the army at a nominal rent.

When George Pilgrim and Bob Robson approached me to see if they could jointly use my hut it solved a problem for me because at that time my troop was at a low ebb and I was trying to wind down my scouting (for family and business reasons as well as the fact that it was stupid having two sea scout groups, one on top of another).

The deal we arrived at was that the Ritson’s would (1) take over the tenancy of the hut (2) take my remaining scouts (after some left to join Charlie Harris) and form a new patrol in the Ritson’s and that they be allowed to wear their sea scout uniforms and (3) that myself and my assistant Jack Scott would help under Bob Robson until my scouts settled down.

This all worked out very well and Bob Robson ran a very good programme. After about 6 months I left and was able to attend to my family and business matters.

Jack Scott continued at the Haven until the move back to Billy Mill when he moved over to Charlie Harris’s sea scout troop.

The 21st Tynemouth (6th Tyne) sea scouts officially disappeared at the takeover, with the Ritson’s taking over all of my camping and pioneering equipment plus the patrol of scouts, whilst Charlie Harris took over all the remaining boats and tackle. Not many land scout troops could boast having a sea scout patrol.

The story of the collier going aground in the Haven quoted by Bob Robson is not actually anything to do with the Ritson’s.

This was actually the wreck of the Surreybrook which went aground on the Black Middens (the rocks at the Spanish Battery) and occurred when my troop was in residence in the nissen hut, before the Ritson’s moved down.

I remember the night because my troop was having an admiralty inspection that night and we had just started when the maroon went up. The navel officer gave us permission and all of us plus the other sea scouts from Charlie Harris’s troop went to help the life brigade with their rocket apparatus. I think Bob Robson was an assistant at the other sea scouts at the time and must have got mixed up.

We actually passed our admiralty inspection with a nice letter speaking of our service. Quite a few of my older scouts also joined the life brigade after that event. One of the scouts who helped that night was Bill Mitchell who is now on the District Exec committee.

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