Whaley Bridge holds a special place in its heart for a Scout troop from inner city Manchester. Since the days of World War I, the 161st Manchester has been visiting the area, most of the time at a wonderful campsite, in a flat field tucked away by the side of the River Goyt. And it all goes back to a chance meeting between members of the 161st Manchester and local landowner Lt Col Ramsden-Jodrell.
The Manchester troop, founded in 1913, has been known ever since that chance meeting as ‘Jodrell’s Own’. When World War I started, camp visits to Wales were curtailed. Instead, the troop travelled the 18 miles to Whaley Bridge, staying at Roos Dych, on a hillside near the cricket ground.
The boys in uniform would sometimes go into Whaley Bridge. One day, the colonel, in his office on Market Street, spoke to them. The scoutmaster was given an offer he couldn’t refuse: a riverside campsite in a field below St James’s Church and the Jodrells’ mansion, Taxal Lodge. It was part of the family estate, due to be broken up a few years later. But back in the years of World War I, it was a link with the old era of generous wealthy people and poor city children. Amazingly, that link still exists today. Jodrell’s Own has been coming to Taxal since 1919, an unbroken link with Whaley Bridge.
The 161st Manchester will celebrate the centenary of their foundation in Whaley Bridge on Sunday 21 July, and the whole town is invited to join in at a party in their riverside campsite. Earlier that day, the traditional service will be at 11.15am in St James’, with the dedication of a new flag, followed by tea and cakes, Then the Scouts will march from the church, down Macclesfield Road, to their site just off Long Hill.
Colonel Ramsden-Jodrell’s grandson, Michael Jodrell, now living in Dorset – the family land has all gone, but the name lives on with memorial plaques in St James’s Church, – is an occasional visitor to the Scout camp. He has been president of the 161st Manchester for many years, after being a proud former Wolf Cub, enrolled in 1945.
Now 80, he is giving up the presidency. But he plans to bring his son Henry and grandson Freddie to the centenary. Perhaps the family link to Jodrell’s Own will continue.
Forty years ago, at their diamond jubilee, the then Chief Scout Sir William Gladstone sent a message: “It is good to reflect on past successes, but let us remember to look ahead so that those who follow can gain inspiration by our example.”
- If anyone wants information about Jodrell’s Own, or would like to make a contribution to the building fund, contact Darran Doran, the scout leader, on 07780 978 361.