The History of 4th Worth

The 4th Worth Group were founder members of the Worth District of the Boy Scouts Association, later known as the East Grinstead, Forest Row and Worth District Association, transferring to the Crawley District Scout Council at the end of May 1953. Formed in 1908, Dr. E. Willett was Scout Master for the first three years when he handed over to the Rev. S. Osbourne who ran the Troop for about a year, with the Troop meeting in the loft of a barn next to what was then the Rectory for Worth Church. In 1912 and for the next 26 years Miss Laura Nix was Lady Scout Master and her sister Miss Mary Nix Assistant Scout Master (ASM). They were assisted by Miss Amy Geddes, ASM and Mr. William Stace, Instructor. The Nix sisters provided the Troop with their own Scout Hut in the grounds of their home, Worth Lodge, a large house situated next to Worth Lodge Farm, just to the east of where the M23 now runs.

In 1919 the Troop had 4 Leaders and 46 boys, and ran both a successful drum and bugle band (we still had one or two of the instruments until late 2016), and took an active interest in rifle shooting, winning many competitions.

On the 3rd August 1914 the Troop were preparing for camp when they received an order from the District Commissioner, Sir Hanbury Brown, to proceed immediately to the Maidenbower Railway bridge and guard it against sabotage (picture above). They were there within 90 minutes and stayed on guard for 30 days and nights. As a result 4 Leaders and 11 boys were awarded the 1st World War “War Badge.”

Whilst in camp at Lancing in 1925, Miss Mary Nix saved a man from drowning and was awarded the Scout Association’s Gold Medal. In 1928 the Troop had five Leaders, Miss Laura Nix, Lady Scout Master, Miss Mary Nix, Miss Amy Geddes, Miss Marjorie Edye and Mr. George Denman, all ASMs and 31 Scouts. Following the retirement of the Nix sisters in 1938, Ron Brett became Scout Master, assisted by Bert Cramp.

In 1939 with the outbreak of the Second World War, both were called up for military service and for a couple of years the Troop met under the leadership of some of the more senior members until Perce Tatnall, assisted by the Rev. Tom Wright and Tug Robinson took charge. Meetings were held in the field behind the Montefiore Institute, Hazelwick Road or – if wet – in the side room of the Institute. Patrol meetings were also held for a time in what was then an A.R.P. Post at Tilgate Lodge (today, Barclays Bank). Despite food rationing and other restrictions the Troop camped at Balcombe during Whitsun 1944, at Smockbottom Lake in Worth Forest in August 1944 and in August 1945 were in camp at Lancing and celebrated VJ day with a huge bonfire on the beach and other celebrations, some of which did not meet the approval of the local D.C. By the end of 1944 the Troop were again homeless and meet under a large beech tree just to the north of what is now Wordsworth Close. With the war over the Canadian forces stationed in Worth Park departed and the Troop obtained the use of a large recreational hut vacated by the Canadians standing on land which today is Hardy Close. In 1945 Gerald Curd, Troop Leader, became the second member of the Group to receive an award from the Scout Association when he was awarded the Association’s Medal for Meritious Service for saving the life of a fellow 4th Worth Scout – Michael Jenner – in an accident on a train. In 1946 George Jarvis became Scout Master and ran the Troop until handing over in 1950 to Dick Manvile who remained G.S.L. until 1961 when he moved away from the district. During this period Dick was supported by Den and Norman Billett and John Baldwin, all who served as ASLs.

For the period up to 1975 there was no Group Scout Leader until Jean Steele, who joined the Group in 1948 as a Lady Cub Master, was appointed GSL, a position she held until she retired in 1996. Peter Raine, who joined the Group in 1959 as a Cub, then took over, a position he held until 2000 when he had to step down due to ill health and Peter Chapman became GSL.

Peter Chapman stepped down for personal reasons and Paul Raine became GSL in 2003. Peter’s Raine has remained in the Group as AGSL’s and joining Peter is Bob Doe also an AGSL.

Jean Steele was appointed the District’s first Honorary Scouter on her retirement in 1996 and since then has been Group chairman. In 2006 Jean was awarded the Scout Associations highest award—The Silver Acorn. Jean sadly pass away in February 2008, it would have been her 60th year in Scouting and 4th Worth.

In 2011 a third Beaver section was started, Nelson. Peter Raine was voted chairman of the group.

But like all history the story will go on…

The 4th Worth Head Quarters

1954 saw the building of the Group’s original headquarters on its present site in Hazelwick Avenue. The cost of the building was £350. The Group has since grown and now has approximately 200 members and consists of 2 Scout Troops, 3 Cub Packs, 3 Beaver Colonies its own Active Surport. Also meting at the HQ is one of the districts Explorier Section, Shackleton ESU.

In May 1997, thanks to the efforts of Jim Steele, the Group’s new headquarters, built at a cost of just over £100,000, was opened and at the beginning of 2000 an extension was added to provide storage space for the Group’s canoes. 2002 saw the fitting of the stairs and completion of the 1st floor in March 2003.

Central heating was installed early of 2005 and also the “climbing” wall. In 2010, wooden flooring was layed at a cost of £14,000.

Since the Group’s formation in 1908 as a single Scout Troop, Rann Cub Pack was started in 1945, Kenue Cub Pack in 1956 and Milton Cub Pack in 1972. Following the introduction of Beaver Scouts in 1982 the Hudson Beaver Colony was formed in 1985 and then MacKenzie Colony a year later in 1986.  2011 saw Nelson, the third Colony of Beavers. In 2001 the Group formed a Marching Band and in 2002 a Scout Fellowship. 2011 the marching band was disbanded (no pun imended) due to falling membership.

The Name 4th Worth

One may well wonder why the name of the Group is 4th Worth when our headquarters are in Three Bridges, but if one goes back to when Scouting first started you will find that:
Robert Baden-Powell started scouting in 1907 when he took a group of 11 to 18 year old boys to camp at Brownsea Island, Dorset.
The idea of Scouting quickly gained interest all over the Country and in 1908 a Dr. Willett together with others formed Scout Troops for the boys living in the Parish of Worth which at the time stretched from beyond Turners Hill in the east up to a small stream, now piped in, that runs just to the east of where Crawley College stands today – the point where Three Bridges Road joins Haslett Avenue. The Parish covered an area that included Turners Hill. Crawley Down, Paddockhurst/Worth Abbey and part of Copthorne.

Originally the Troops formed had the name ‘Worth’ in their title, i.e. Crawley Down was 1st Worth, Turners Hill 2nd Worth, Copthorne 3rd Worth and the Troop for the boys living near Worth Church and in Three Bridges named 4th Worth. Collectively the Troops were known to the Boy Scouts Association as the Worth District Scout Association. Whilst we have kept our original name the other Troops were disbanded at the outbreak of the 1st World War, due to the lack of Leaders, but later restarted under the name of their village.

At the time of the formation of 4th Worth, Three Bridges was a relatively small village and consisted mainly of houses for those working on the railway. Some people believe that the name Three Bridges originated from the need to build three bridges to carry the railway line over the three roads or lanes that ran eastwards from Crawley – the lane that ran past the old mill that stood at the bottom of Hazelwick Mill Lane and which has long since been demolished, the road that runs past the present Railway station, (the station was originally at the top of Station Hill which today leads through to Maidenbower) and the third bridge over the lane that ran from the Tilgate estate to the Worth Lodge estate and which now links Furnace Green with Maidenbower. However, the Railway was not built until 1841 and in his book “A brief history of Three Bridges” Jim Laker, a local historian who died at the beginning of 1997 and who was a member of 4th Worth in the 1920’s, refers to a map dated 1795 showing Three Bridges as a small hamlet or village around the junction of North Road and Three Bridges Road, with the name deriving from the three bridges crossing the river Mole, although just where these bridges were is not clear. One was certainly in what was the old High Street, now part of Haslett Avenue and was just opposite where the bus stop is at Three Bridges Station on the south side of Haslett Avenue. The bridge where Hazelwick Mill Lane joins St, Mary’s Drive is relatively new because until the late 1800’s the river there was crossed by a ford.

The area now known as Pound Hill consisted mainly of the large Worth Park, Crabbett Park and Worth Lodge estates, and took it’s name from the pound for stray animals then to be found at the bottom of the hill on the Balcombe Road between Ridleys Corner and where it joins the Turners Hill Road.