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Grammar School scout troop who set up camp beside the Conway

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: August 13, 2014

By Gavin Jones

  • Falcon Patrol at Cwmlanerch. Back row: David (Sam) Howells, Ray Stokes, B.Aston. (kneeling – unknown). The scout sitting cross-legged was named Foster and he lived with his family in the old Seven Stars pub in Dudley market place, long since demolished to make way for shops.

  • At Swallow Falls. Paul Alexander, 'Big Bill' Jones, Alan Fisher, Les Farmer, Steve Shaw, Ray Stokes (front)

  • At Llanberis. Les Farmer, Ray Stokes, Alan Fisher, Steve Shaw, 'Big Bill' Jones

  • At Llanberis. Steve Shaw, Ray Stokes, Les Farmer, Alan Fisher, The Rector, 'Big Bill' Jones

  • On Betws-Y- Coed station. 'Big Bill' Jones, Ray Stokes, Alan Fisher, Les Farmer, Steve Shaw. The cartons on the bench were 'Lyons Individual Fruit Pies.' Only sixpence and very tasty!

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THERE was no better guarantee of adventure for the youngster of the nineteen-fifties than to join the Scouts.

Times were still tight even though the war was rapidly receding into the past, and even the better-off families had a much more limited choice of holiday than we enjoy today. But by joining your local scout group, you could be sure that soon enough you would be off into the wilds; camping, cooking, and maybe finding a practical use for all those fancy knots.

Ray Stokes has emailed us the following recollections of his time as a scout with Dudley Grammar School's troop back in 1952, along with the accompanying photographs. Ray writes:

"At the end of the summer term in July 1952 almost 40 scouts and scouters travelled to North Wales for their summer camp. The journey took them by rail via Crewe and Llandudno Junction to Betws-Y-Coed.

"Their camping site was a mile north of Betws-Y- Coed on the banks of the Conway river at a farm, run by Mr Hughes, called Cwmlanerch. The party was led by scouters who were masters at the school; Mr Aisles (Arthur) and Mr Potter (Pansy), plus the troop leader Paul (Kipper) Alexander.

"They enjoyed ten days of unbroken blue skies and warm sunshine, taking part in 'wide games', climbing the surrounding hills, swimming in the cool waters of the Conway, and singing around the camp fire. After ten days camp was struck and the main troop returned home again by rail.

"However a small group of five Senior Scouts, along with the Troop Leader, decided to hike to Llanberis and climb Mount Snowdon.

"On the first day the weather held until they reached the Swallow Falls, then came the rain. That night they camped in bivouacs near to Capel Curig, which is one of the wettest places in Britain and that night seemed to be no exception.

"Next morning, in persistent rain with the cloud well down Moel Siabod mountain, they trudged to the top of Pen-Y-Pas when, as if by magic, the local bus came along. As they were soaked through, they promptly boarded for the last leg down the Llanberis Pass.

"Camp was set up in the grounds of Llanberis rectory, by kind permission of the Rector, who himself was a scouter, where they joined scouts from other troops.

"On the third day they hiked up the western slopes of Snowdon, following the railway track. However the weather was still dreadful and with cloud almost down into the valley there was little to see, only a welcome café.

So another night was spent at The Rectory with camp-fire songs and hot cocoa.

"On the final day the group took the bus back to Betws-Y-Coed, then returned by rail to Dudley."

If you have a story from your scouting days you'd like to share with us, write in, pay us a visit, give us a call, or email gjones@blackcountry bugle.co.uk.

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