HOLDING THE FORT

  • Twick-en-ham place
    Town and suburb in the south west of London – 10m/16km SW Charing Cross – being the principal town by population of the Borough of Richmond upon Thames.
  • jam-bo-ree n
    1. A noisy celebration.
    2. A large assembly, often international, especially of Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.
    Poss from "jambo’ – swahili for “hello” also ‘corroboree’ n. – gathering/dance of Australian Aborigines

At 3.00pm on the afternoon of Saturday June 29th 1935 Alderman T.H. Smith J.P, the Mayor of Twickenham climbed up onto a small stage at Marble Hill Park and declared the first district Scout and Cub Jamboree officially open. As he welcomed the young visitors he gave the event his heartfelt endorsement…

“Any movement which aims at developing character — the underlying principle actuating the Boy Scouts — is worthy of the support of the whole country.”

He was right — and hundreds of boys and their leaders from all over the district agreed with him. That weekend, 74 years ago, they poured into Marble Hill Park, erecting tents, lighting fires and getting down to the principal business of Scouting – having some serious fun. One group, the 1st St Mary’s Scouts from St Margarets were so keen to take part that they assembled the night before, and in the words of the ‘Richmond and Twickenham Times’…

“…collected their camp gear, loaded their trek carts and proceeded, full of high spirits, to stake their claim at Marble Hill in preparation for the weekend in the open air.”

The world has changed a lot since 1935 but the Twickenham Scout Jamboree — or ‘Twickeree’ as it is now known, remains a major event in the lives of over a thousand local young people — boys and girls. It still takes place in Marble Hill Park every three years, fuelled by the same high spirits and enthusiasm. The pattern established in 1935 still continues — mixing camping, games and activities with demonstrations and displays in a central arena. Over the years these have included a Musical Cavalcade on Bicycles, The History of the Sword!, Bridge Building and in 1951 the Air Scouts spectacular — “Air Traffic Control” using model aircraft. A visitor described it as “weird but wonderful!”

THAMES VALLEY VESPA CLUB

Calling L- Leader, you are cleared for landing!

In 1949 the Jamboree changed its name to “Celebree” to mark 40 years of Scouting in Twickenham and in 1951 changed it again to “Twickeree” which is still used today. In 1958 an Oak Tree was planted in the Park to commemorate the 50th Jubilee of Scouting and there was also a featured demonstration by the Thames Valley Vespa Club. (People not up to speed with ‘Mods’ and ‘Quadrophenia’ should note that Vespas were, and still are, small motor scooters. Groovy baby!)

Now Twickeree is returning once again to Marble Hill Park on Saturday and Sunday 20th/21st June. Just as in 1935 over a thousand boys – and this time girls too – from all over the borough, along with scout friends from the island of Texel in Holland, will be invading Marble Hill Park to have ‘one good time’. This year the various groups will be representing “Ancient Civilisations” — ranging from the Mayans and Mycenaeans, through Celts and Carthaginians to Picts and Persians. Our own local group, the 1st St Margarets, are coming along as “Vikings” and have promised to keep the pillaging and plundering down to a minimum.

Daleks conquer the Scouts

Twickeree is open to the public from 10.00am to 8.30pm on Saturday and from 9.00am to 3.00pm on Sunday so do come along. There’s a lot to see – including a Soap Box Kart Grand Prix and arena displays, and with the ‘ancient civilisations’ staging their own activities, lots to do as well. If you come you may realize what you’ve been missing out on for all these years and you might just be swayed by something that appeared in the Twickeree pamphlet for 1949 -

‘Twickeree is only one drop in the mighty ocean of world Scouting. When you see how we live – and what we are trying to do for young people – we feel sure your interest will be aroused and we do sincerely ask you to inquire further and find out how you personally can join in this most worthwhile of all activities.’

Scouting in all its forms — the young beavers, the older cubs and the Scouts becoming adults — desperately needs people as adult leaders and helpers. Twickeree is an opportunity to ask yourself. Could that person be you? Could it?

Calling L- Leader, you are cleared for landing!

— from Martyn Day