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Memories of a 1950's Wootton Sea Scout

Picture of Wootton Sea Scouts
Wootton Sea Scouts, 1916

With reference to your request to comment on the above photograph, it looks to be taken in the late 1920s to early 1930s. In the post war year the Wootton Sea Scout wore the standard Royal Navy matelot’s hat, i.e. with a firm top as used today. The caps in the photograph have soft tops and the flag is wrong.

I joined the Wootton group in 1951, we were known as the Ist Wootton Bridge and wore a blue neckerchief edged in dark green; we did not wear belts over our jerseys, instead we wore a length of one inch hemp with an eye splice at one end and I believe a back splice at the other end. It was tied around the waist with a sheet bend.

This seemed strange, and we put it down to a personal eccentricity of our then scout master Col. C.W.Brannon [1879-1970] who at the time owned the Isle of Wight County Press and lived at Tenth House, New Road. In 1952/53 an assistant scoutmaster joined use by the name of Ted Self who I believe worked in the Newport Borough Council architect office. He drove a big old green Bentley which was said to have a Perkins seaplane tender diesel engine in it, it sounded like it. He lived at the top end of the village near the Woodman’s. From my knowledge he left the group around 1954.

Col Brannon took sea scouting very seriously and was very proud of the group, especially those that went on to join the merchant navy as apprentices and cadets. At his own expense he acquired two retired four oared galleys which we used to race in the Rye and Folly regattas. We also had a single scull and a large dinghy, together with a lot of camping gear. At the Whit holidays our camping gear was loaded onto a small barge and towed behind Col Brannon’s yacht “Salla”. On at least one occasion his wife and daughter came with us to Corfe camp site at Newtown. There were also camps on the River Medina by the cement mills.

We rubbed our boats down at Easter ready for summer use; this was under the supervision of Alec Chatfield who owned a couple of sheds for winter lay-ups and a slip behind Please Garage in New Road [opposite St. Edmunds Walk]. Col Brannon encouraged the sea scouts to offer themselves for crewing in the ex-Bembridge Redwings which were attached to the Wootton Creek Sailing Club to gain experience. I have sailed with various people and some I remember, “Smithy” whose wife ran the village telephone exchange in his “Red Gauntlet”. “Rollo Wadham” who was a Newport newsagent in “Tamaris” and Brigadier Sandy [retired Indian army] in "Red Mullet".

Though I no longer live on the island I have fond memories, and wonder where my old friends are today. One or two people who I knew come to mind, Judith Dancy who lived in a houseboat at the rear of Chatfield shed’s and was an excellent swimmer and small boat sailor, she used a boat built by her father called “Mazawater”. There was Ann Brading the daughter of the local chemist who never forgave me for capsizing the boat in which she was sailing. I remember Ray Barnes and John Sheen who lived next door to each other in houses backing onto the creek.

Editors note

Information found within "Scouting on the Isle of Wight" gives the following additional background. The date of the group picture is 1916 and it also states that the Wootton Sea Scouts were formed around the period 1916 and led by Rev. C.L.Blake with J.C.Hennah. Additional information also states that the original registration warrant dated 20th June 1910 was not pursued.

Source: Ex Wootton Bridge resident

This page was last edited on: 26th January, 2022 17:50:47

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