South Shields Scouts

A morale boosting and nostalgic story from not long after WW2 came to my notice.

From an impecunious area of South Shields, it involves a local scout troop wanting to visit Denmark and Sweden in the early ‘50s. Not for them, the lottery or street begging and parental contributions were not an option. But two ultimately successful projects worked a treat.

Post war, waste paper had high value and the troop collected a great deal from around their town. Then they put on a show and sold tickets, enough to purchase them a cheap berth on the Parkeston from Newcastle Quay to Copenhagen and from there, they took the local ferry to Hälsingborg where the Swedish press praised their enterprise and initiative. The Hälsingborg press called the seven 11-15 year olds, with their 24 year old Scout leader Gordon Houlsby, “dashing”.

Those that are left, 70 plus years later, may no longer be or feel so dashing, but all remember the exciting world enhancing time they had in those days. Another expedition would see them in a bunk in the tween decks of the SS Bury, Associated Humber Lines, out of Hull to Amsterdam to meet Dutch scouts.

I admit to being rather jealous of their journeys in those days. It is not just nostalgia that says that travel then was more exciting and the places seen more interesting. I know that my visits to Bergen, for example, in the late ‘60s were far more colourful and fascinating than the modern tourist metropolis it is now. And I believe that to be true of Copenhagen too – just see the DFDS terminal in the city centre of the early 1950s, with the Burmeister and Wain shipyard in the distance. A vastly more inspiring sight than you find today, for all the modernity and conspicuous wealth of the 21st Century metropolis .

More on this and other news in Sea Breezes Magazine - December 2017 Issue
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