Chester-le-Street Heritage Group
Strictly speaking there are no Wolf Cubs in this narrative. They had all grown older and emerged as senior scouts of the 2nd Chester le Street Scout Troop. One evening in the mid 1950s the Troop went to visit Jimmy Walton, a local butcher who had achieved fame through his ownership of wild animals. This visit was arranged by the Leader of the Troop, Bryan Scott. The Troop at the time consisted of Patrol Leaders Derek Shepherd (Shep), Jon Lubbock (Be bop a lub lub), Fred Richards, Peter Kellett, Clive Kellett, Charles Shaw (Chas) and Ron Hall who, for the first and perhaps the only time in his life, was late.
The Troop, minus Ron Hall, arrived at Jimmy Walton’s house in Picktree. The evening started with the introduction of a very large lion cub to everyone and then a film show about Jimmy’s lions. While the sitting room was in darkness to view the film show, Ron Hall arrived and bumped into what he thought was a large Labrador dog! The ‘dog’ moved away and sat down on Shep’s feet. When the lights were switched on, there was the ‘Labrador’ which turned out to be the lion cub leaning comfortably against Shep. When he realised it was a lion and not a dog he had bumped into, Ron’s eyebrows went up in surprise!
After the film tea was served. The lion cub, looking to be more comfortable, leaned heavily against Shep’s knees. This jostled his hand as he was about to take a drink and a few drops of the hot tea fell on the lion cub’s rump! There was a loud roar from the cub and it leaped up. The scouts scattered in all directions – except for Shep who sat immobile!
The lion cub did not go berserk as you would imagine. It sat down in front of Shep, giving him a quizzical look and then sat on his feet! Order was quickly restored and the scouts resumed their seats. Jimmy’s son said, ‘I am pleased to see that he (i.e. the lion cub) has taken that so well.’ So am I, thought Shep!
At the end of the evening when the scouts were leaving, Jimmy Walton pulled back the cover from a large cage. In it was a huge tiger with a beautiful coat and luminous yellow eyes. ‘This is the only animal that I do not handle,’ he said. ‘It is so strong and unpredictable.’ The silence of the scouts showed that they were obviously impressed. All in all a memorable evening - and Ron Hall’s eyebrows have never come down!!
Reminiscence by Ron Hall and Derek Shepherd May 2010.
The Lion, Tiger & the Wolf Cubs