Memories of the Early days of the 87th – by Hugh Corr
added December 2010
I came across the group site recently and thought that the following memories might help to fill in some blanks in the troops history.
I joined the the 87th in late 1951 or early 1952 although at that time it wasn’t the 87th. It was the 151st Rutland Sea Scouts which was a headquarter’s troop attached to (or perhaps sponsored by) County Headquarters which was at that time situated in Rutland Square at the West End.
The troop itself met in a loft hall in Potter Row (just of Nicholson Square and to the rear of the present day Festival Theatre). It was quite a Dickensian place, long since demolished, but it served the purpose. We even managed to build a “cadet” class sailing dinghy there which gave years of service.
The GSM at that time was an “old sea dog” named Captain Prattly and the SM was an Australian chap whose name I don’t recall. PL’s then were, John Straun, Duncan Kidston, Farley Lindsay and Bill Middleton. Straun & Lindsay later joined the merchant navy and went on to be captains in due course with their own commands.
The 151st became the 87th sometime around late ’52 or early ’53 and, after meeting in Boswall Parkway for a while, eventually got the use of a small hall (with it’s own even smaller swimming pool would you believe – dive in one end and hit your head on the other!) in Clark Road, Goldenacre. This was in the grounds of Edinburgh Academy primary school, Denholm Green – which I think is now a private housing estate. There they remained until at least the late 1960’s before moving back to Boswall Parkway by which time I was running my own troop elsewhere.
The cubs, run by Netta Grant, met in the compass club just off Granton Square.
Scout Leaders around that time were, S/M Forbes Runcieman, AS/M’s Archie MacLean, Murray Reid and, later, Bill Hood who went on to become GSM. A John Gilmore was also S/M at one stage but I can’t quite remember when.
Around that period there were 3 Sea Scout troops in Edinburgh. The 87th, the Royal High School Troop and another (I think short lived) in Leith District.
As well as a number of rowing boats and sailing dinghys, we had a large and old two masted ship named “Lewisman” which served as a guardship and was permanently moored at the old railway slipway in Granton Harbour (next to the Northern Lighthouse quay). I think she was owned by County Headquarters but I could be wrong
We also had a cabin cruiser named “Aptera” which slept about 6 or 8 at a time. When not on the Forth, she spent part of the summer most years on the Clyde cruising around Bute, Loch Striven and Loch Fyne and as far afield as Oban & Tobermory via the Crinan Canal I recall. The troop ran a series of one week cruises every year for one patrol at a time – sometimes in place of a summer camp. We used to spend several weekends per year working her through the Forth & Clyde canal. I often wonderwhat happened to her?
The Lewisman met a sticky end. She was very old (possibly 70 to 80 yrs) and in a very poor condition – well beyond the troop’s means to repair – and it was decided in the mid to late 50’s I think to get rid of her. AS/M Archie MacLean was per chance an officer in the then RNVR at HMS Claverhouse, Granton Square and he persuaded them that it might be a good exercise for the RNVR to remove and scuttle her.
All useful equipment and her masts were removed (chopped down would you believe and taken to Bonaly where they lay for many years – perhaps still there for all I know).
Lewisman was taken under tow by HMS Killicrankie (The RNVR’s ton class minesweeper) with several portable pumps on board to keep her afloat to a point a mile or two West of May Island where the pumps were removed and the navy set off demolition charges and sank her. A number of the troop including myself were aboard Killicrankie on that rather sad trip.
The first one I attended was in 1952 and was not strictly a camp. We spent a week with the RN reserve fleet at Gareloch on the Clyde (site of the present day submarine base). Many world war 2 warships (battleships, cruisers, aircraft carriers, frigates, subs etc) were laid up there. We boys were fed and slept in hammocks on the messdeck of, I think, an old supply ship. Our leaders lived it up in the officer’s wardroom!!
Most of that week was spent sailing and rowing heavy navy whalers with oars like telegraph poles (and seemed to weigh about the same) which developed our muscles no end! One of the highlights was being shown around the battleship, HMS Duke of York which went to the breakers a few years later.
Other early summer camps I remember were Loch Lomond in ’53 or ’54 (I don’t recall the name of the site but it was on the east side about 3 or 4 miles south of Inversnaid), Cairndow ’56, Auchengillan ’57 and Killin (on a small island) around ’58 or ’59.
There were others but I don’t recall where or when – even the above dates may not be exact.
My memory is not quite what it used to be!!
As a matter of interest, I was the first (and only for a number of years) sea scout to take part in the Gang Show. I was in the cast in 1960, 1961 & 1962 then I worked backstage every year until around 1982.
I hope all this is of some interest to you and it is good to see the 87th still going strong. All strength to your elbow!!
Hugh M. Corr.
More Memories by Hugh Corr
added January 2011
A couple of other thing have come to mind that may also be of interest.
(1) A very sad event & every scout leader’s nightmare – the death of a boy.
In the early 60’s, three of the lads were sailing in Granton Harbour in (I think) the cadet
sailing dinghy when they capsized. Two of them were fished out in double quick time by the
yaught club launch. The third youngster was trapped and tangled up in sheets, sails etc and
As I said, not a very pleasant reminder but part of the troop’s history none the less.
(2) I mentioned that there were 3 other Sea Scout troops in the city. In actual fact there were 4.
The fourth was the 120th Liberton (yellow neckers) whose GSM was Leslie Pringle who went
on to be ACC Sea Scouts. I think the 87th and the 120th must have been the only sea
scouts who went of to camp regularly via a Rolls Royce shooting brake! It was owned by
Leslie and it was amazing the number of lads that could be carried in it – probably would
not be allowed today. Leslie also owned a cabin cruiser named “Hillary Anne” which was
often used by the troop as well as “Aptera”.
(3) Of the original scout leaders, Forbes Runcieman, Archie MacLean & Murray Reid, at least
one, Archie MacLean, is still very much alive (I get a Xmas card from him every year).
Murray Reid may possibly be around but I haven’t heard anything about him for very many
years. Forbes unfortunately died several years ago.
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