1st Wellington Scout Group is one of the oldest Scout Groups in Wellington and the only surviving Group.
The group was started in approximately 1900 by John Exton, who was asked by his employer, a major textile firm run by the Fox Brothers to see if he could solve the problem of there being little to occupy the youth in the town.
At this point the Group was just a youth group, but shortly after the Scout Movement was started in 1908, the headmaster of Corams Lane School came across a copy of Robert Baden-Powell's book Scouting For Boys and he and several lads were inspired to set up a patrol under the leadership of one of the pupils, Jim Williams.
John Exton then converted his youth group into a Scout Group - 1st Wellington Scout Group, he then became the Scoutmaster and they continued to meet at Corams Lane School.
They had little in the way of uniforms except a stave marked off in feet and inches, and there was no transport to take them around the countryside. When they went to camps at Ilfracombe and Blue Anchor they walked all the way, pushing their gear on a handcart.
In 1920 some members of the Group attended the first Scout Jamboree at Olympia in London, and in 1934 two teenagers, Tom Talbot and Philip Heal, walked all the way from Wellington to London to help re-launch the Group after interest in Scouting had dropped off. They were successful and membership rose to 20 within a few months.
During the 1930s the Scouts met in a hall off Fore Street. The hall is still standing today but in poor state of repair. Later they met in a tin hut at Church Green. Little is known of this period of the Groups history.
At various times through the Groups history it has also had an offshoot Troop in the neighboring village of Rockwell Green. This continued up until the mid 90's when the RG troop split away and formed its own Scout Group.
In the 1967 the Scout Group obtained a wooden hut in the ground of a local residential home. The ground was rented to them by the owner, a keen supporter of the Scouts, at £1 a year rent. The lease lasting 30 years.
In 1994 the new owner of the residential home decided to expand and needed the land the wooden hut was on. The lease was not renewed and the Group had to find new premises.
The Group secured a plot of land and a Lottery Grant to build a new HQ. However after problems with the land the Group decided to purchase an old building in the middle of the town. This building, being over a century old, was in need of many repairs. The lottery grant was soon used up in purchasing the building and making it safe.
The building had been many things in its life, in the 30's and 50's it was a dance hall, after the war it became the towns first cinema, and then in its later years it was used as a warehouse for a local photography company.
With the help of many grants the building has now been renovated to a high standard and named Castle Hall reflecting its previous name when it was a dance hall.
The building is very central to the town and available for private hire and has become a focal point with regular farmers markets and other community groups using it.
The Group in 1917
1st Wellington Rockwell Green Troop circa 1960
The Group HQ in 1994