Burntisland Scouts celebrate 100 years with open day

A 1956 trip to Edinburgh Zoo
A 1956 trip to Edinburgh Zoo

One of the largest Scout troops in Fife is inviting the public to join them in celebrating their first 100 years officially in operation.

The 11th Fife Scouts in Burntisland are holding an open day to mark their centenary, as they go from strength-to-strength with an ever-growing number of youngsters joining their ranks.

1976 Civic Week Parade in Burntisland

1976 Civic Week Parade in Burntisland

With over 140 Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, and Explorers, the 11th have had to split their troop between two separate nights.

The expansion of the troop has been a long-time coming, after moving a number of times over the past 100 years before finding their current home at the Burntisland Parish Church.

Countless locals have grown up as part of the long-standing group, learning life skills and making friends for life.

Group Scout Leader Kerry Laing has been looking back into the troop’s past, piecing together the history from various newspapers and records.

11th Fife Scout Group members.

11th Fife Scout Group members.

She said that while the 11th were registered in 1919, there was evidence that Scouts have been active in Burntisland for much longer.

She said: “We’ve pretty much been going since the start of Scouting, there were articles in the paper where three of our scouts were sent to an event in London in 1911. But our first official document says 1919, as that was when all Scout groups were asked to register at headquarters, before then it’d been local registration. However, I’ve found newspaper articles showing Scouting in Burntisland since 1909.

“I found one article where the Scout leader at the time stated in the paper that we were the oldest troop in Fife. There’s a troop in Dunfermline that claim that at the moment.

“Another article claimed that we were the first in the country to have Cubs, but it’s just a line in a newspaper.”

National Explorer Weekend Scotland 2017

National Explorer Weekend Scotland 2017

So with the first official record of the 11th being registered in Burntisland in 1919, the group is celebrating their centenary this year.

The group is now gladly enjoying the sizable space and heating at the parish church, which are things that have been absent in a largely nomadic past.

Kerry said: “We’ve been in here for about ten years now. In 2009 we were in St Serf’s Church Hall on Manse Lane, but during the bad winter, the pipes all froze, so we had no water.

“As a quick stopgap we ended up coming down here, but when we got actual heating, it was like ‘wow’!”

The Explorers at Blair Atholl jamborette, 2018

The Explorers at Blair Atholl jamborette, 2018

Throughout the troop’s history, there have been a few campaigns for a new Scout hall as they moved from hall to hall.

Kerry said: “I’ve been tracking down where we were, and through the years it seems to have been the same story; ‘we’re raising funds for our own hall’.

“We seem to have dotted about among all the halls in Burntisland, then in the 1930s we got a long-term lease on Ged’s Mill which doesn’t exist anymore. We had the top two floors in the granary.

“By the end of the 1950s it was getting a bit run down, and that seems to be when we started looking for another hall, and nothing seems to have happened for ages.

“We seem to have had a log cabin up the Binn at some point in the 1950s as well.

“In the 1980s we ended up in a hall on East Leven Street that’s now a house.”

And Kerry is keen to put all the research to good use.

“I’ve managed to fill in a lot of the gaps.

“The intention is, after we’ve done the open day, we’ll do some more work on it and produce a little booklet on the history of Burntisland. maybe next year.

“The open day is just to let the town see what we do. Anybody that wants to come along can come along and see what we’re giving to the kids of Burntisland.

“We’ve been celebrating our centenary all year, and Burntisland hosted the St George’s Day parade this year.

“I think Scouting is very important, it gives the youth of Burntisland something different to sitting in front of their screens, and gets them outside for some fresh air.

The open day will be held on Saturday, October 19, from 1pm, at the Burntisland Parish Church.