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Scouting came to Dorking in 1908 when a small group of boys made use of an old hut in a field adjoining Roman Road. They had all been reading Baden Powell’s Scouting Aids and decided they wanted to give it a go.   At first the boys did a little drilling and made some flags for semaphore signalling. Many had their first experience of camping under canvas by holding camps at the weekends as far away as Coldharbour, Headley and Holmbury St Mary. By the end of their first year, they had grown to 25 boys with other troops forming in the outlying villages.

When World War 1 broke out, the Scout troops of Dorking came forward to do ‘their bit’, and some were immediately employed on guard duty at the water reservoir on Tower Hill. During the war several of the troops disbanded, but afterwards, with the troops returning home, many started up again.

Between the two World Wars Scouting in Dorking and the surrounding area made great strides and a steady number of boys passed through the troops. Apart from the normal programmed activities, the main event was the biennial Ranmore Rallies that were organised on a county wide basis. Upwards of 3,000 scouts camped either side of Ranmore Road, and at the 1927 county rally on Ranmore Common, Baden-Powell visited the camp along with Lord Ashcombe.

During World War 2 many records were lost at HQ as the leaders were called up to the war effort and it was up to the local scout districts to maintain a coherent history.  An article by Richard Leon, the then Assistant Commissioner, who wrote about the Dorking Scouts:  “The Dorking Boy Scouts have performed and are still performing useful war work. In the early days the Scouts and Cubs helped with the reception of mothers and babies with Scouts sorting luggage and sometimes child-minding, and the Cubs serving refreshments. It seemed every Scout and Cub in Dorking turned out to help the evacuees.”

New sections have been added to Scouting: in 1916, younger brothers of Scouts were welcomed to Scouting in the Cub Section. In 1968 the first new Venture Scout Unit was formed, known as the “Four Hills” Unit, named for the four hills surrounding the Dorking area. In 1986 Beaver Sections, for young people 6-8 year old, opened.  September 2002 saw the inauguration of the district’s Explorer Scout section — replacing the Venture Scouts —  which caters for young people aged between 14-18; the programme has an emphasis on personal challenge and adventure. The launch of the Explorer Scouts coincided with the beginning of the Young Leader training scheme, under which older Scouts return to help the younger sections of Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts and Scouts. They are given appropriate training for their positions, and are involved in the planning of activities and evenings.

Dorking has continued to acquire and develop resources for use by the young people and leaders in the district: during April 1969 the district opened a new activity centre given to the district by an anonymous donor. It was to be known as the Wilkinson Centre, named for a local gentlemen remembered for his services and generosity to others.In 1993 negotiations were completed on extending the lease to acquire more land to be used at the district’s Ranmore Campsite; this included an old wood yard and further land to the west adjoining the site.

To date there have never been more boys and girls in the scout movement at any time since 1908. In our district of Dorking, which covers the villages of Brockham, Newdigate, Leigh, Capel, North and South Holmwood as well as the town itself, there are nearly 600 uniformed members (with many more on waiting lists) as well as parents, friends and countless volunteers in our community who make Scouting possible in Dorking.