From the Thorley Archives

Thorley's Workingmen's Club and Scout Hut

 

Earlier this year a landmark building disappeared from the bottom of Church Lane. Since 1965 it was known as the Scout Hut but it had begun life as an accommodation hut for 1st World War soldiers. After the war the hut became a centre for many village activities serving as the workingmen's club and village hall. Many villagers have fond memories of their time in the 'hut'. Now the Venture Scouts' Hut has been demolished with high hopes that a replacement building will take its place in the near future.

First World War training in Thorley

In October 1920 John Tinney gave the land in trust to the Rector, Canon J.E.I. Proctor, for the princely sum of ten shillings. Canon Proctor's intention was to provide a community centre for those recovering from the traumatic events of the 1st World War. A wooden 1st W.W. Roll of Honour was unveiled in the hut in 1921. This is now on the wall in the church room with a permanent memorial set into the north wall of the church.

During its time as the village hall it became the focus for many varied functions. Colin Sampford remembers having his school dinners there in the 1930s with Mrs Gilson being their cook. Later, in 1956, Colin and Marjorie had their wedding reception there. Rose and Frank Monk remember it being used for concerts, Mothers Union, W.I. and British Legion meetings. The highlight of the children's year was the Christmas party organised by Mr and Mrs Streeter. The Workingmen's Club continued to meet there into the late 1950s.

Reg Jacobs reports that the newly formed Thorley Scout Group met in the Village Hall from 1956. In 1964/65 the Scout Group took full possession of the building and set about remodelling the interior. The hut was divided into three sections for Senior Scouts, a storeroom, and a main meeting area to accommodate the ever-increasing numbers of Cubs and Scouts. As a Senior Scout, John Charlish recalls many Saturdays erecting studwork walls, painting the chimneybreast red and fixing up antlers retrieved from a jumble sale! Outside the hut the brambles were cleared to make room for a camp kitchen. Frank Monk had to dampen their enthusiasm and their fire more than once when the flames got too close to the wooden structure. Scouting folklore also has it that Harry Roberts, the notorious criminal, stole their cooking gear whilst hiding out in Thorley Woods.

1974/5 saw the Thorley Scout Group renovate the adjoining Thorley School as their headquarters. The Venture Scouts used the hut until 1999 when the roof became unrepairable. Fundraising is now gathering momentum to raise approximately 200,000 to replace and equip a Venture Scouts Headquarters.

The Old Scout Hut, Church Lane

 

Bill Hardy
November 2004

From the Archives