2nd Abbotsford Sea Scouts Group – a short history
|Our 80th celebration in 2012 brought forth a number of accounts
of our sea scout group over the years.
Please explore these links
1945 – 2nd Abbotsford remembered by Keith Bashford
Stories from the past – Compiled by Dee Hallett1945 – Alan Sandalls photo collection
The Group originally started as 1st Malvern Hill Sea Scouts in 1932, the year the Harbour Bridge was completed. It was named after the suburb of Malvern Hill that subsequently was amalgamated with Croydon. Its original formation was a Sea Scout patrol in the Croydon Scout Troop that had been in existence since about 1916, and split off to form its own Sea Scout troop. The Rover Crew for young adults also started 1932. The Cub Pack commenced in 1933, Miss Betty Mellor was the first Cub Leader. The Group’s first meeting place was the backyard and shed of Mrs Elliottâ€™s house in Fitzroy St Croydon. The Croydon Chemist, Leslie Dunbar, had boys in the troop and was the Groups first Honorary Secretary. He also donated a sailing and rowing boat, the Wilfred Dunbar. The first Scout Master was Gordon O’Connor and Assistant was Emil Wilson. One of the Scouts in the Troop was the son of the then Premier of NSW, Bertram Stevens.
The Group moved to Abbotsford in 1937 into the dressing sheds of the recently decommissioned Abbotsford Baths by the ferry wharf. This became the first Scout Hall. The baths nets still existed at first and the Scouts had fine times swimming at high tide in the summer. It listed its address as c/o Bailey’s Boatshed, Abbotsford and, from the first, formed a liaison with the Bailey family that was to last for many years. That boatshed is over a hundred years old and still stands today owned by our good friend and supporter, Roger Kyle, who rents boats and does marine repairs there.
Malvern Hill Sea Scouts changed their name to 2nd Abbotsford in 1942. Many older Scouts and Leaders left to enlist in the armed services around that time, among them the three Sandell Brothers: Ron, David and Allan. Sadly only Allan survived to return at the War’s end.
During Wartime, Scouts from 2nd Abbotsford formed part of the National Emergency Register from September 1939 throughout the war. They performed Harbour Watch duties and rowed frequent surveillance patrols in the section of Parramatta River from the old Gladesville Bridge to Mortlake, where stood the gasworks that was considered a military target, defended by at least one 6-inch gun sited in Morrison Bay Park, Gladesville.
Post-war and in the fifties the baby boom saw the Group flourish, running a vibrant active program in an age when there was not much around for kids of working families. The Port Neptune Regatta was started at Abbotsford in 1949 to give Scouts from all over NSW an experience of upper harbour sailing. The Regatta still runs today.
In the early sixties the old Scout Hall was attacked severely by white-ants and had to be demolished. Its replacement was a Drummoyne Council shed that was originally sited where the Barnwell Park Golf Course in Five Dock is now. The shed was demolished and rebuilt at Abbotsford on the site of the previous Scout Hall. That shed, with additions was similarly affected by white-ants and was replaced in 2006 by the current Scout Hall.
The Group has continued to run adventurous, active and community involved, ethically based programs for kids in the sixties to the present day. In the fifties, sixties and seventies there were many Scout Regattas around the State. At regattas on Sydney Harbour it was common for our Scouts to sail their boat to the Regatta, race during the day, sleep under it at night and sail it home again. The Scout Hall in the sixties and seventies saw many dances and social functions that would be fond memories for many who attended. The program for the cooler months often included camps and bushwalks, many times to Bluegum Forest, near Blackheath. Also there were a number of rowing expeditions from Wisemans Ferry to Berowra. In the late eighties girls became regular members of all the scout sections and the Group continues to thrive and grow focusing, as always, on active, outdoor, interesting pursuits with the emphasis on good citizenship and community involvement.
Scouting has always been an investment for tomorrow but our society and our local community has collected dividends from Abbotsford Sea Scouts in the shape of many hundreds of trained responsible citizens and leaders in all the years of the Groupâ€™s existence.