Enormous Scouting banner found in Littlehampton basement returned to its spiritual home

The enormous canvas Scouting banner
The enormous canvas Scouting banner

An enormous piece of Littlehampton’s Scouting history has been returned to its spiritual home.

The 8ft long, 5ft wide canvas banner was found in the basement of a Scout hall in Littlehampton and former Scout leader, town councillor Tony Squires, took it to the UK’s first Scouting campsite on Brownsea Island off the coast of Dorset.

Mr Squires said it likely dated back to the 1910s or 1920s, so its homecoming on Thursday was fitting.

“Brownsea Island was the first Scout camp, so now it’s going home,” he said.

“It’s so big it would only get damaged anyway – someone would come and have a clear out, and end up throwing it out.”

He said conservationists on Brownsea Island, which is run by the National Trust, would preserve the banner, frame it and hang it in a cottage for public viewing.

It is a piece with significant sentimental value to Mr Squires, who has been involved with the Scouts for around 50 years.

He said changes in legislation and attitudes to health and safety made Scouting in 2019 a totally different proposition to a few decades ago.

“A major problem is getting young people to come forward and be leaders,” he said.

“There’s also so much red tape now, you have to jump through so many hoops.

“In the old days, we would just go off to camp with no risk assessments or anything like that. We would just go pot-holing or climbing, with no red tape.

“We still do activities, but now when they camp they don’t camp rough like we did. They get showers and all that kind of thing.

“We used to put two poles across and just dig a hole when we wanted to go to the loo. Now we wrap kids in cotton wool.”

Mr Squires, who is the Labour town councillor for Ham ward, delivered the banner personally to Brownsea Island.

The island was the location of the first Scout camp, led by Lieutenant General Robert Baden-Powell and a team of 21 boys in August 1907.

Baden-Powell, who appears on the banner, founded the Scouts after penning a military training manual, Aids for Scouting.

In 1908, he released Scouting for Boys, which went on to be the fourth most successful book of the 20th century, selling 150million copies.