Let’s go back to the beginning – the very beginning. Scouting in Bishop Auckland began in 1909 with the 1st Bishop Auckland (Lady Eden) Troop and there was a 2nd Bishop Auckland based at St Peters church before 1920. There were another five Groups formed before the Second World War.

However the only current Group in the town itself – this one - can trace its history back to 1947. In September of that year a Scout Group was formed as 8th Bishop Auckland.

The following year it was renamed as 2nd Bishop Auckland. Originally there was only a Cub Pack run by Ann Lowson but in 1948 a Scout Troop was formed run by Ron Herdman. Ann and Ron later married and moved to Darlington.

The first Kings Scout in the Group was in 1951; there are a number of (more recent) Queens Scouts working as leaders with the Group.

The Pack met in the Lightfoot Institute which is on Kingsway whilst the Troop met in the Baptist Church Hall on Westfield Road; indeed until 1953, the Group was linked to the Baptist Church. A lot of fundraising took place to provide a permanent Headquarters, which was built in Murphy Crescent by Stephensons Builders at a total cost of £4,255 housing 54 Cubs and Scouts when it was opened in 1960 by Lord Barnard.

1957 saw the Group celebrate 50 years of Scouting with youngsters attending the World Scout Jamboree at Sutton Coldfield. Since then youngsters from the Group have attended Jamborees in Norway, Holland, Essex and Sweden.

The Leaders are the backbone of the Group, inspiring youngsters and others. Many people of Bishop Auckland remember Esme Pringle, who ran the Cubs for almost two decades. Bill Pattison, the Group's first King's Scout, and Joe Lee ran the Scouts for many years. Both joined as original Scouts in 1948; Joe left as Group Scout Leader in 1982.

The Group grew; in 1968 a Venture Scout Unit was formed and in 1986 a Beaver Scout Colony was created allowing access to Scouting for youngsters from six to twenty. Such was the demand that a second Colony existed from 1991 to 2000. Memories abound, too many to include here but some will remember the 1988 District Swimming Gala when every race was won by 2nd Bishops including the Leaders’ race. That race has been won by a 2nd Bishops Leader ever since.

In 1983, Cub Scouts from the Group appeared live on BBC Breakfast Time to make tea for Selina Scott.

The Group outgrew the original headquarters and moved to its current home in 1994 where it bought the land and Robin Lea Hall. That hall was demolished and a new purpose-built Scout Centre was built with a great deal of help from individuals and organisations in the town.

The new centre was opened in 1995 when over 300 people crowded into the building. A plaque in the main hall records that the then County Commissioner, George Mitchell opened the Scout Centre.

1998 saw the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Group however based upon the 8th beginning in 1947 and the name changing to 2nds in 1948, the celebrations lasted for over a year, including a camp with almost everybody camping and Beavers and parents joining in. More memories with hot running water at camp, great fireworks and tractors needed to get us off the site.

A reorganisation of Scouting took place in 2003 with St George Explorer Scout Unit being formed, meeting in 2nd Bishop Auckland’s Headquarters – and it is very pleasing to see the links strengthening.

Some Leaders names have been mentioned that many local people would remember but there are other Leaders who will be remembered in the town for many years to come. They are those who have provided Scouting over the sixty five years to the town.

In celebrating the worldwide centenary of Scouting, 2nd Bishops managed to pull off a coup. Such is the capability of the group that they managed to persuade parents to allow their youngsters to be taken away for the day without knowing where; they persuaded sixteen schools to let youngsters have either a day off (or a very educational experience depending who was asking) and then put on a full day’s activity for all, including a visit by the leader of Her Majesty’s government. Only one Group has done that – anywhere in the country – 2nd Bishop Auckland.

There are already plans for one activity in 2023. It will involve spades to dig up the time capsule buried in 2000 close to the Scout Centre.

If you want to learn more about the history of Scouting click on the Video opposite to see how it has changed over the years.......

YouTube Video