Withdean Stadium

Annual scout jamboree

By Michael Brittain

Annual get together

Once a year in the summer, the local cub and scout groups used to hold a jamboree at Withdean Stadium. There were the usual stalls selling cakes and hot dogs etc plus coconut and smash the crockery shies. One of my favourite stalls was throwing wet sponges at the scoutmaster or tipping him off a chair into a paddling pool, which cost just a few pennies a throw. At the western end of the stadium they usually set up a zip line off the hillside, which was great fun too.

1966 Battle of Hastings theme

The centre piece of the day was a parade by the different cub and scout packs; it was usually themed on something topical of the year. The year the photo was taken was 1966 so it seemed right to remember the Battle of Hastings which was having its 900th year anniversary. Our scout pack, the 15th Brighton, was chosen to be Normans in a recreation of the battle in the centre of the arena. Equal numbers of English and Normans lined up at ether end of the arena, the signal was given and we charged at each other. Being only 10 years old at the time, I thought that screaming and running at the enemy was great, but as we met in the middle we all slowed down, and we had a play fight hitting and poking each others shields.

A dangerous mock battle

Looking back it was quite dangerous telling hundreds of kids with pointed wooden spears and swords to run and charge each other in a mock battle; I don’t think it would happen in today’s health and safety conscious world. I don’t recall any kids getting hurt during the battle; I certainly wasn’t as I had a big pointy sword and a very large shield.

Photo:I am the Norman Knight in the centre, keeping the English at bay. Click on the photograph to open a large version in a new window.

I am the Norman Knight in the centre, keeping the English at bay. Click on the photograph to open a large version in a new window.

From the private collection of Mark Godden.

This page was added on 23/02/2012.

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