My whole family were so very much involved with Wesley Hall as they grew up and then married both on my father’s side – the Hoggers and my mother’s side – the Pollards. They belonged to the church during its early development and the youth organisations where they met their future partners.
William Henry Hogger, known as Harry, married Elsie Langham at Wesley Hall on the day before World War II started in 1939. Harry was a stalwart of the church both as Scoutmaster and as a church steward; he really did keep the place running. I remember trips to the Rover’s den on a Friday night to pay in our instalments to the Christmas Club that Harry organised. It was a way for dad to keep in touch with what was going on. Then there were the indoor campfires that Harry led round the ‘campfire’ lit by a red light bulb. Harry also had an allotment just outside the kitchen door that he spent time on. I think this is where the scouts practised their fire lighting skills. Elsie was Brown Owl for many years and after retiring handed over to her daughter Margaret. Their son Graham was also involved with the Scout group before moving to Dorset.
Leonard Hogger married Renee Hicks. They met at Wesley Hall. Len was the first of the original Rovers to enlist in the RASC at the beginning of the war when the Rovers started a dairy of the Rovers and their involvement during the war. Several of them of course did not return. Len helped my father with the designing and making of the scenery at Wesley Hall for the Woolwich Boy Scouts Gang Shows during the 1950s. Renee was Tawny Owl alongside Elsie for many years.
Jessie Hogger married Albert Cooper. They did not meet at Wesley Hall but were good supporters. Jessie could be found in the kitchen whenever there was catering to undertake. Their daughter, Audrey Cooper, was my Guide Lieutenant and later in life a regular member of the congregation until she was taken ill in 2010. At our Guide camps she was in charge of the menu and the cooking rota. On one camp she was horrified to find one Sunday morning that a fox had stolen the Sunday roast from the stores tent. It meant knocking up the local butcher to beg another to feed 30 hungry guides. She worked hard to prepare all those meals.
Leslie Hogger married Dora Pollard in 1941 but not at Wesley Hall. Dad was a Scout and later one of the original Rovers. Mum was a Brownie and later a Guide and Sunday School teacher. Mum often accompanied us on our Guide camps with my younger sister, Jan, in tow. She organised the Sunday School outings to Littlehampton and a place could Resort California when it rained all day! We travelled in a double decker London Bus. Dad was involved in organising the Gang Shows at Wesley Hall which I remember well. He was later asked to co-produce The Woolwich Boy Scouts Gang Shows in the 1950s alongside Les Payne, a builder who lived on Plumstead Common Road. Dad took charge of the scenery and props which were built and made with volunteers of the scout group at Wesley Hall. Mum was wardrobe mistress for these events and we spent many weekends at Conway School planning and making costumes during rehearsals. In the late 50s, dad started a youth club on a Saturday night where I learnt to play badminton. I still play now. I was in the Brownies and Guides and a Sunday School teacher for a short while before I left to go to Matlock Teachers Training College in Derbyshire. My sister Jan met and married her husband Paul Nichols at Wesley Hall and are still so very much involved there along with their daughters Helen and Jo.
Marjorie Pollard married Charles Cradduck at Wesley Hall in 1934. They both belonged to the Scouts and Guides. Marjorie was later Brown Owl until the family moved to West Wickham in Kent. Charles was an original Rover and joined the RAF during the war. He later became a Methodist lay preacher. Their son Trevor was also a Cub and Scout.
Dorothy Pollard known as Dolly. Aunt Dolly was my Guide Captain having grown up in the Guides at Wesley Hall. She was also a member of the choir. I remember my guiding years with much affection – the camps, often wet ones but good fun. Dolly, mum and dad made and built the latrine and fire shelters in the back garden when Dolly decided to take her campers certificate. The rubber sheeting roofs used to fill up with rain and when the Guiding official came to inspect the camp someone inside decided to release the water just as she walked past. However Dolly did get her campers certificate. We used a furniture removals van to take us to camp. The stores were loaded first and then the Guides clambered on top. Health and Safety would have a wobbly now! Yearly we used a wooden cart to collect unwanted jam jars to make money for our camping trips. So many happy memories.
With so many of the family involved at Wesley Hall it was inevitable that I should spend so many of my early years there. Growing up in the church and the guide movement I met so many friends some that I still have contact with but have not seen for many years. It was my life and entertainment then before television and computers. We went to socials, had Christmas parties and of course the fetes and jumble sales and days out.
Well done Wesley Hall on reaching your centenary and to all the people who have been loyal supporters and who have worked hard to keep it going through some difficult times. May it remain a place for people to meet and enjoy especially for the youth of today as it was for the youth of yesterday.
Ann Spray nee Hogger