Memories of 1st and 2nd Benfleet Sea Scouts

Thomas Johnson - Skipper 1st & 2nd South Benfleet Sea Scouts 1969-1981

Hi!  my name’s Thom Johnson, possibly the last Warranted Skipper of the 1st & 2nd South Benfleet Sea Scouts and it appears that I have been forgotten.

In 1968 I was a Venture Scout with the “Kanevey” Venture unit, on Canvey Island (the Venture leader was Pete Siggery). My fellow scout, Lee Johnson, was the Skipper of  the 1st & 2nd South Benfleet Sea Scouts, however due to gaining  an apprenticeship he handed the leadership to me in about 1969.  Hence, from approximately 1969, I held dual roles as a Venture Scout and the combined Skipper and Group Leader of the 1st & 2nd South Benfleet Sea Scouts.  Kath Fisher and myself appointed a separate group leader ‘Steve Stoner’ in approximately 1970-1, later to be joined by ‘Colin Hobbs’ as my Assistant Leader.

True, the original Stan Fisher hut burnt down long before my time. However the second /third incarnation with veranda and surrounded by wire-fenced compound, guarded by ‘Doug’ and his dog, was still standing (just) when I assumed the mantle of Skipper in 1969.  However, the structure was unsafe often swaying in strong winds.

Between 1969 and 1971 my scouting career and horizons literally took-off, first I assumed the mantle of Leader of 1st & 2nd South Benfleet Sea Scouts then in 1971 as a Venture scout, I represented S.Essex Scouts, Castle Point District, at the 13th World Jamboree  Fujinomiya, Japan, being one of the scouts caught in the typhoon that hit the camp site. Upon return to the UK I decided to improve the lot of the Group and their premises. Hence in the mid 70s we organised a party of parents and local boat-dwellers to demolish and replace it with a Hut my father (Lew) had obtained by kind donation from Shell refinery. Shell organised and paid for the transport to Benfleet and some parents whose occupations were within the police force organised the traffic for unloading.

‘Lew’ being a Master Carpenter, acted as ‘foreman’ for the three day erection and assembly of the ‘new-ish’ hut. I remained as Skipper for the following 12 years until 1981, when family commitments caused me to leave the group and Essex. Upon my return many years later, I learned  the old hut had been torched by the Juvenile Benfleet mafia (Morons with nothing better to do).

Such a shame! We had many happy hours sailing on the creek together with night time orienteering over the Downs, (and after, meetings in the Hoy & Helmet with Colin). Now all history.

13th World Jamboree Mt Fuji Japan 2-8th Aug 1971. Back row: L-R wearing white sea scout cap Mr Markham Group leader. Back row : 4th from left Assistant group leader (name unknown). Backrow : Middle - no beret me, Thomas Johnson Troop leader. Background: very cloudy Mt Fuji, Photo taken one day before Typhoon struck and washed out entire site
Thom Johnson
First Major camp the 8th Essex Jamboree held at Belchamps in 1976. Twelve of my boys - L-R back row: G.Leader Steve Stoner & myself (a much younger, with hair) Skipper Thom.
Thom Johnson

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