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Preparing for the Event

Scouts making stools

In the summer of 1953 the Boy Scouts International Conference decided to celebrate 50 years of scouting by holding a hitherto untried combined international gathering, a World Scout Jubilee Jamboree, Indaba & Moot. The Boy Scout Association of the United Kingdom accepted the invitation to organise the event.

The first important step was to find somewhere large enough to accommodate such a vast camp. Sutton Park made it to the short list and was visited by the selection team in 1954. Obviously impressed the park was chosen to host the Jamboree, much to the delight of the town. The Jubilee Jamboree, Indaba and Moot, soon to be known simply as the JIM, would see a massive effort to prepare and organise a major world event.

The main task of planning began in the spring of 1955. Over the next 2 years a voluntary army of over 5,000 people was formed to organise the event. However, to ensure the camp would be properly serviced and the participants adequately housed & fed, the Organising Committee soon found it would cost over £500,000. It would have been more but for the generosity of the British Government and British firms, but even so a very large sum of money had to be found through fund raising. So there were no passengers, all the staff were volunteers who gave up their annual holiday and paid for the privilege, all the boys and leaders raised the money needed to attend the JIM themselves, and in time all the money needed was raised.

Only those faced with the organisation could appreciate the numerous and varied problems that beset them. For example, whilst the sandy soil of Sutton Park ensured excellent drainage it did not allow for the widespread movement of heavy transport. Existing roads had to be supplemented with a number of temporary byways, all of which would have to be removed after the event. Camp sanitation was a major headache so that for the first time at a Jamboree an elaborate system of automatic waterborne toilets piped into the Towns permanent sewage network was installed. Flood lighting and road illuminations, large scale exhibitions, a fully equipped theatre and covered Grandstands capable of holding 15,000 spectators, also had to be built, all by volunteers. And all this was achieved in the 12 months leading up to the official opening on 1st August 1957.

The Sutton Park Visitor Centre is helping to compile an oral history archive of this event. We are interested in speaking to local residents who remember the event, who may have taken part or even helped in the organisation and related activities. We have already had some great anecdotes and some fascinating photographs but are still hungry for more. The project will eventually form a publicly accessible part of the Sutton Reference Library collection as a permanent history of the event.

If you have anything you'd like to share you can contact the Sutton Park Visitor Centre on: 0121 355 6370, Email us at: sutton.park.visitors.centre@birmingham.gov.uk Or just drop in to our location near town gate for a cup of tea and a chat.

World Scout Jubilee Jamboree 1st 12th August 1957
Programme of Events
Facts and Figures
Clearing Up
Camp Layout