3rd Tynemouth

(Ritsons Own) Scout Group

Billy Mill Lane, North Shields, NE29 8LP

Gordon Armstrong

Gordon was in the Group from about 1942 to about 1947. He started at the age of 11 and stayed until he was almost 16.

The Group was based up at Billy Mill and had what I think was a World War One army hut, about where Tynemouth Squash club is now.

The Scout master was George Pilgrim, who worked at a place known as ‘the haddock shop’, an engineering firm / ship yard specialising in trawlers. He was the officer manager and was known by some as the haddock man.

Just north of the Scout hut was a quarry which may have been old colliery workings, which the home guard used for weapons training. The Scouts used to go and play among the bullet ridden old cars and scout around for old bullets and cartridge cases.

The old mill was used as a look out post for the home guard during air raids, and he can remember them having kit in it. When they left, the mill was boarded up.

Immediately north of it was a place called the howling which was great for roaming around in and sledging in the winter.

I can remember half a dozen of the Troop going down to Tynemouth to an old building which was being used by the WRENs. The Scouts became incendiary bombs and were posted in various hiding places in the building with tins to rattle. The WREN’s had to find the rattling tins and deal with them.

I think the hut we used was about 20 to 25 ft wide by 60 or 70 ft long. Can clearly remember it was timber with horizontal planked, weather boarding (creosoted) walls and a felted ridged roof. I always described it as a First World War type building. It was nicely fitted out, there was a Rover Troop associated with them in the later years and they walled off one end as a Rover room, built a big fire place out of logs, very rustic looking, splendid job.

At the entrance end, there were four rooms partitioned off as patrol rooms. The owls and the seagulls had one each but I can’t remember who the other two were. When I first joined, Arthur Davidson was a senior patrol leader who emigrated to the states at the end of the war. I can also remember Wallace Rowley and Brian Hanks being pretty much inseparable.

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