The Boy Scout Movement was inaugurated on January 24th 1908 at the YMCA hall (now occupied by Primark) in Grange Road, Birkenhead by Lieutenant General Sir Robert Baden-Powel, KCB, so it was very appropriate that the 1929 “coming of age” Jamboree, should be held in the area. The Corporation of Birkenhead offered the newly acquired 450 acre estate at Arrowe Park free of charge to the scout movement.
The Jamboree ran from 31st July to 13th August. The park was laid out as a small tented town with streets, shops, chapels, banks, eight accommodation sub-camps and the World Theatre. The camp was open to the public each afternoon, entrance charges varying from 1/- to 5/-, depending on the programme of events. Despite the almost continuous rain, more than 320,000 members of the public visited the camp.
More than 50,000 scouts from 69 different countries came to the Jamboree, 20,000 more than had originally been planned for. To accommodate the extra scouts auxiliary camps were set up in Upton, one on land belonging to Mr Stern of Upton Manor a second on land belonging to Mr Paul of Overchurch Hill and the third on land belonging to Wallasey Corporation. In addition, a ladies camp accommodating about 50 tents was established in Mr Paul’s private garden.
The auxiliary camps had their own Canteen, Hospital, hot cocoa marquee (provided by Cadbury’s), newspaper stall, photographic shop, post office and Great Tent for concerts and religious services.
After the Jamboree was over, Mr Paul gave the camp site on his land to the Scout Movement.
The camp had a log cabin, built by the West Wirral Group, an open-air swimming pool, complete with high diving board, springboard, fountain and floodlights; an under-cover toilet area; hand-basins and showers; and a camp shop.
In its heyday, around 10,000 scouts a year camped at Overchurch, but by the early 60s the numbers were falling and this, together with large scale vandalism, led to the closing of the site.
The Upton Bypass now cuts through the camp site, and a mobile phone mast stands next to the site of the swimming pool. The remains of the swimming pool, a fountain and the foundations of the buildings are still visible.
In March 1924 the first official parade of the 1st Upton (Victory) Boy Scout Troop took place. A Wolf Cub Pack was formed with six cubs and there were fourteen scouts, A year later there were eighteen scouts. The troop was affiliated to St Mary's Church and their meetings were held in the Victory Hall.
After the World Scout Jamboree, one of the wooden huts was acquired for use as a scout hut, this was sited in Salacre Lane.
During the second world war the scouts stopped meeting, although the cubs continued throughout the war.
The wooden hut was replaced with a concrete block structure in 1952. On the 4th May 1989 vandals attempted to burn the hut down, and it was gutted, only the walls were left standing. But with a great deal of fundraising, insurance and hard work the hut was rebuilt out of the ashes. It was officially reopened on the 9th June 1990.
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