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Matlock Bath: Great Scout Parade, Royal Hotel, 18th March 1917
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1881 fountain restored after BP's visit

The Royal Hotel, with the large extension

5th Matlock Scouts 1920s

Baden Powell Scouts, 1933 - Bugle & Drums (1)

Baden Powell Scouts, 1933 - Bugle & Drums (2)

Past Matlock & Matlock Bath photographers

Over the weekend of the 16th to 18th March 1917 the Scout Movement held their first conference at the Royal Hotel[1]. General Sir Robert Baden Powell, the Chief Scout, was in the chair. It was at here that he first expressed a wish for St. George's Day to become a scouting festival day throughout the world[2].

On the Sunday morning many local scouts and their leaders marched from Matlock to Holy Trinity Church for a special service and afterwards they went into the grounds of the Royal Hotel where they were inspected by the Chief Scout. Crowds gathered outside the grounds to watch; they can be seen standing several rows deep in the hotel's gateway, peering over the walls and some were allowed into the hotel's grounds.

Below is a lengthy extract describing the day's events from an article that was published in the High Peak News the following weekend[3]:

"...The troops represented were the 1st Matlock, Assistant-Scoutmaster Mr. P. Bridge; 2nd Matlock Scoutmaster Mr. E. H. Bailey; Cromford Assistant-Scoutmaster B. Parker; Lea and Holloway; also Beeley and Baslow District Scoutmaster the Rev. J. Greenshields, and Assistant-Scoutmaster Lieut. Lytle, of Bakewell.

These paraded at headquarters in the Dale Road before service, and were headed for Matlock Bath by the Bugle Bands of Cromford and Baslow, under Assistant-Scoutmaster B. Parker of Cromford.

There were present two King's Scouts, Assistant-Scoutmaster B. Parker of Cromford (wounded in the Dardanelles), and Lieut. Lytle of Bakewell (wounded in France).

The Rev. J. Holyoak, of Essex, was the special preacher at Matlock Bath Parish Church. The first lesson was read by the Chief Scout Sir Robert Baden-Powell, and the second by a visiting District Commissioner. In charge of the Scouts was District Commissioner F. C. Balguy and also District Scoutmaster the Rev. T. B. Browne, of Darley Dale.

There were special hymns by the choir, the organist being Mr. A. W. Bryan. The preacher's topic dealt with the seven loaves and fishes, and he compared our Lord and Saviour as the greatest Chief Scout the world has ever known. St. Andrew found the boy and he compared him to the District Commissioners of the Boy Scout movement looking out to help the boys.

The sermon lasted eleven minutes, and the preacher concluded by saying the Scout must do his work for the honour of the State and not for swank. The National Anthem concluded the service, which was arranged by the vicar, the Rev. Wm. Askwith, M.A. Afterwards there was a procession of the Boy Scouts to the Royal Hotel (the headquarters of the Chief Scout), and here they formed up in double file and the two bands played the General Salute. Afterwards the Scouts stood "at attention".

They were next marched past Sir Robert Baden-Powell, and the Chief Scout took the salute and inspected the lines with special attention to practically every Scout.

He addressed a few words of encouragement to the Scouts and highly complimented District Commissioner F. C. Balguy on the smart appearance of the boys, also referring with pride to the way they had all passed through their evolutions and drill on parade.

Later Mr. W. N. Statham, of Matlock, took an excellent photo of the assembled officers and boys, with the Chief Scout as the centre figure.

At the close of the inspection, the Boy Scouts gave three hearty cheers for the General Baden-Powell. The event was a great success."

Although the conference delegates clearly enjoyed their stay in Matlock Bath, they voted to go to Windermere the following year[2].


The Chief Scout was photographed in the doorway of the Royal Hotel for the Scouting Gazette, published in May 1917. There is no other information about the event in the magazine, other than the photograph's caption.

Next to Baden-Powell's picture is a list of 25 former scouts who had either been killed or died of wounds whilst on active service. A fund had been set up to raise money to send free copies of the Gazette to Scout Soldiers and Sailors. One Scoutmaster had written in to say that the Gazette, known as the "Green 'Un", was tremendously appreciated and was being read from cover to cover and passed round all the serving men's friends.

Perhaps the man holding B-P's hat was a member of the hotel's staff. It is possible that the man wearing the dog collar and plus fours was the District Scoutmaster the Rev. T. B. Browne, of Darley Dale as we know he was present at the parade.

With very grateful thanks to Julie Bunting for helping with this. Also to two members of the Scout movement: Daniel Scott-Davies, who checked Baden Powell's diaries, and Mike Donoher for the article and first picture.
The second picture is from "The Boy Scouts Association Headquarters Gazette", dated May 1917 and © Susan Tomlinson Collection.
Researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "The Times", 19 Mar, 1917.
[2] Beresford, Charles (2007), "The Bath at War, A Derbyshire Community and the Great War".
[3] "The High Peak News", 24 Mar 1917.