BP's visit to South Africa in 1884

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The Chief Scout's visit to Pinetown in 1884[edit]

(Extract from: Fifty Years of Scouting in Pinetown 1913 - 1963 by M Macartan)

In 1884, his regiment, the 13th Hussars, was ordered home to England but as trouble was still brewing in South Africa after the Zulu War, the regiment was ordered to disembark at Port Natal. At this time Pinetown was a garrison village and in company with other young officers Captain Baden-Powell stayed here for a short time in the wooden house on the Old Main Road known to-day as the "Baden-Powell House" and now the headquarters of the Pinetown Girl Guides.

"Baden-Powell House", Old Main Road, Pinetown, 1953.

According to an article in the "Natal Witness" of 17th November, 1956, written by Natalie Juul, she recalls seeing the old original register of the early Pinetown library and in it were recorded the names of Baden-Powell and many other soldiers who were later to become famous. The article also states that the late Miss Ella Horton, member of an old Pinetown family, remembered watching Baden-Powell and other young officers, playing leap-frog on the verandah of the house.

The Vicar of Pinetown at this time, the Reverend T. E. Robinson, had a family of fifteen children. The vicarage was then in St. John's Avenue at the corner of Bamboo Lane, the site now occupied by Mrs A. S. Conyngham's residence. In the "Mercury" of 28th October, 1953, appeared an article by Nancye Stuart (as told to Miranda Stuart). Nancye Stuart was a daughter of the Reverend Robinson and in the article recalls how her parents kept open house for the young officers. In describing the soldiers they entertained, she writes, "But our favourite was Captain Baden-Powell, the youngest captain in the British army, they used to say. He spent hours with my brothers and me in our wilderness of a garden, playing tracking games among the fruit trees and the tall grass. He told someone later that it was these games with my brothers which first gave him the idea of the Boy Scout Movement.

"Baden-Powell loved getting up concerts. His own turn was the best of the lot. He used to sing comic songs at the piano to his own accompaniment. The only one I can remember had a chorus, 'Scrub, my mother,' which we used to sing afterwards." By a strange coincidence the land first bought by the Pinetown Group Boy Scout Committee in 1950 was almost adjacent to the site of this ten-acre garden formerly belonging to the Robinsons.

Mr and Mrs J. E. Taylor lived for several years in the Baden-Powell house and their daughter, Mrs A. M. Law, of Pinetown, vividly remembers the day when Lord Baden-Powell re-visited the house in 1926, as he wished to see the place where he had stayed in his young soldiering days. He showed Mrs Taylor the room in which he slept and told how one night he searched the grounds in bare feet having been disturbed by an intruder. He also pointed out the spot where his favourite dog was buried.

Scout Heritage 2012

See also[edit]

Baden-Powell's visits to South Africa