In 1921, David Lloyd George was Prime Minister and King George the 5th was on the Throne. Closer to home, Thomas England became Mayor of Romford Urban District Council and Charlie Chaplain's "The Kid" was doing well at the Laurie Cinema. In the Romford Charity Cup Final, Romford Central were beaten 1-0 by Records United of Brentwood at the Great Eastern Railway Athletic Association's ground.
In 1921 there were probably about six Scout troops in Romford. Brigadier-General C.H. de Rougemont was DC for Mid-Essex and Romford District and the ADC for Romford was The Reverend Charles Steer M.C., who was Vicar of St. Andrews, Hornchurch.
1921 was also the first time that the Franklin Challenge Shield was presented to the wining Troop of an annual competition held as part of a St Georges Day Competition. It has been contested 83 times since which must make it one of the oldest trophies in our County. The trophy consists of a large wooden shield 16 inches (43cm) high. At its centre is a hallmarked silver shield titling it as the Franklin Challenge Shield of the Romford and District B.P. Scouts Association.
The winners each add a small engraved shield. In the early years these had the troop name and the name of the Scout Master (SM) engraved on them. Up until the early 1940s it was very much a troop competition but by the mid fifties it had become a patrol competition with the name of the winning patrol engraved. From 1974 onwards the name of the winning patrol leader was also engraved along with the Scout Leader's name. The leaders name was dropped from the mid 80s and by the mid 90s we were squeezing the name of the APL on the little shields as well.
With all these names, the Franklin Shield is a bit of a who's who of Scouting in Romford down the years. 1st Romford were the first winners with DC Mackness as Scout Master. Mr Mackness along with F. W. Ashby of the 2nd Romford were the first two Scouters in Romford District and it was Mr Ashby's name that graces the shield in 1922 when the 1st and 2nd Romford tied the contest. E Davies being Scout Master of the 1sts.
During the 30s and 40s the Franklin shield was presented to a lot of Groups no longer with us either due to closure or migration to other Districts. Both the 7th and 12th Romford Royal Liberty School troops won it a few times between them. The 1st Gidea Park whom are now known as 2nd Squirrels Heath were regular winners in the 1930's. 1st Emerson Park and 1st and 3rd Harold wood were all winners in the 1940's.
By the 1960s we start seeing names more familiar to a lot of us. In 1964 Dennis Rolls was SM of 2nd Collier Row and in 1965 R. Barton gets his name on the Trophy. The Ron Barton Challenge is another trophy that is still contested annually by the Scouts of our District. W J Adams was GSL of 2nd Romford when they won in 1969. The Bill Adams Trophy for Orienteering is also still contested annually. J.B. Warren of 1st Harold Hill makes an appearance in 1974. A remarkable feat from 1989 to 1992 was master J Godden winning the trophy three times as PL! 2007 was also a note worthy year with our first female PL winning however Miss Skipworth isn't the first woman to win. Way back in 1924 the trophy was presented to the Newbury Park section of 2nd Romford with Mrs. N. Shelford as Scout Mistress!
We even have examples of multiple generations of the same family being named on the trophy as last year's winning APL – M Reeve of 3rd Gidea Park is a descendant of A Reeve whose name graces the trophy as SM of 3rd Collier Row during the late 50s.
These are just a few of the familiar names on the trophy however there is one name that we know absolutely nothing about. Franklin. Who was he or she and why did they present us with a trophy?
There was an R. Franklin on the Romford Urban District Council in 1919 and at the same time a Mr Richard Franklin was recorded in the Romford Directory as living at 22 Heath Drive, Gidea Park. It's tempting to believe that Richard is our man but we will probably never know.
The Franklin Shield Competition was run on similar lines to last year, with the exception that for the "Surprise Test" an "Observation Test" was substituted. This was held at Woodlands prior to the final night. Mr. Crisp and Mr. Brown collaborated to produce, with the assistance of Mr. Watson, a very striking outdoor test (on the lines of the First Class estimation) which embraces many opportunities of testing each Scout's efficiency in estimation. The Scouts were told a moving Wild Wrest story, culminating in a murder. Woodlands represented the scene of the crime and all the clues necessary to detect the criminal were artfully disposed here and there for those who would search. Local colour was provided by the use of prodigious foot-prints and blank cartridges. The Scouts were required to examine all the clues for a certain period after which several questions had to be answered. Apart from this innovation—which has been desdribed at length because of its novelty—the competition was as last year.
The Shield was won by the 1st Gidea Park Troop and after vicissitudes which shall remain unspecified, was presented to them on the following day at the St. George's Day Parade. The 12th Romford Troop were the runners-up.