I have a small collection of magic lantern slides of Scouts, three of which are shown here. They were taken by Graystone Bird, a professional photographer based in Bath. I know a little about him as I have hundreds of his slides and his grandson, a friend of mine, has researched his life. Graystone’s father, Charles Bird, was a professional photographer in Frome in the latter half of the 19th century and was particularly well known for his portraits printed on card, sometimes beautifully hand tinted. However, Graystone’s rise to prominence coincided with the huge increase in production and sale of glass, photographic, lantern slides and he carved out a very successful market niche with his illustrated hymns, rural idyll and cute children images. You can see more of his slides in some of my other posts.
Early slides of Boys Brigade and Scouts are quite rare, especially when produced for commercial resale, as these were. For me, they evoke very fond memories, not of my scouting days as I wasn’t a member, but of many years in the Life Boys, Boys Brigade and finally as an officer in same. So many happy times and experiences that were character forming. I recently met a couple of friends from those times who I hadn’t seen for over forty years and within minutes we were sharing memories and agreed that those positive childhood experiences provided a solid base for our respective lives. Whoops! I’ve gone into old fart mode. Sorry.
Anyway, the point of this post is that the caption on one of the slides is ‘The Colonel’s Advice’. The camera angle isn’t helpful but it looks like Baden Powell (see close-up below). Given that this slide was probably made in the early 1900s, was he a ‘colonel’ at that time or, if a higher rank, was ‘the Colonel’ an affectionate nick-name?
If you have any thoughts on this, please get in touch. Oh ….. and thank you to the leaders and helpers of children’s organisations who give up their time to support today’s youngsters.