The Group has, from its earliest days, been connected with St. Andrew’s Church in Porthill. In fact the Church Hall where we meet was opened in May 1909 so it has been around nearly as long as us!
However, in the ‘Boy Scouts Organisation Register for The Potteries and District Boy Scouts Association’ book, the Troop’s headquarters are listed as the Congregation Church, Porthill. This Church is down the other end of Watlands View to St. Andrews. It would appear that the Troop weren’t there for very long though.
The book ‘Wolstanton Congregational / United Reform Church: A Century of Service 1902 -2002’, by Margaret and Gwyn Jones, records the following –
At a deacons’ meeting in February 1908, sanction was given for a “Boys’ Life Brigade” to be started in connection with the church. Nothing further is recorded about this and it is assumed that this never came into being.
It is worth noting that the Church did have a Boys’ Brigade Company from 1939 to 1989. The book makes no mention of the Scouts.
The Troop does still have a connection with this Church. There is a font in the Church, which was dedicated on 9th May 1922 to the memory of men killed in the First World War. One of those men, Joseph William Heath Simpson, is also commemorated on the Troop’s War Memorial. You can read more about him here.
Just to add to the confusion, in the minute book for the ‘Stoke-on-Trent and District Scouts, Scoutmaster’s Meetings’ 1910 – 1918, the Troop is referred a number of time between 1912 and early 1915 as the 1st Wolstanton Troop. By October 1915 we are 1st Porthill again. However, we know that 1st Wolstanton is 1st Porthill as the Leaders mentioned are ones we have recorded as being with 1st Porthill. Perhaps the confusion occurred because until 1913, St. Andrew’s Porthill was a daughter church of St. Margaret’s in Wolstanton.
St. Andrew’s Church
For reasons that have been lost in the mists of time, the District that we were part of was Burslem District (although for a time it was called Burslem Division). At the time Porthill was often described as being in Stoke-on-Trent (of which Burslem is a part), but as far as we’re aware, it’s always been in the District of Wolstanton or the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme (neither of which are in Stoke).
We think we were put in Burslem District because Porthill was closely associated with Longport (which is in Stoke) at the bottom of Porthill Bank. Longport had numerous potteries and it was seen to be the height of social climbing to be able to move up the Bank to Porthill or Wolstanton!
Looking down Porthill Bank towards Longport c1905 -1915
The High Street looking towards Wolstanton c1909
St. Andrews Church c1918 – 1920
Photographs © Staffordshire Past-Track
Porthill Bank in the Early 1900s
Bradwell Lane in a postcard which was posted in 1910. One of our Scouts, Thomas Horrocks Cork, worked at Wood’s Grocers for some time. Is that him in the doorway? Were any of the other boys in the photo Scouts?
The Group stayed in Burslem District and its successor from 1990 onwards, Potteries Central District (see the old District Web site from 2003 here), until 2005 when we finally moved to Newcastle District.