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March 28, 2013

Pioneered Skylon Towers - 1951 Festival of Britain

The Skylon was a suspended tower erected at the 1951 Festival Of Britain in London. To this day, Scouting literature refers to suspended flagpoles as 'Skylons' in reference to this tower. Here is an article from the November 8, 1951 edition of THE SCOUT that shows two of the first Skylon Scout towers, built during the Festival of Britain:

All the best Troops this year make Skylons! That seems to have been the slogan this year. Whilst at their summer camp Scouts and Senior Scouts the 94th North London Group built this massive Skylon. It took them almost a day to assemble and erect. The Skylon withstood a terrific thundestorm with a high wind and lashing rain on the last night of the camp. It was designed several months before the camp and even a scale model was built. (That's the way to go about it, blokes) 
Readers may be interested in the following details: Total height 60ft. From the ground to the base of the mast 6ft. 6ins. ; size of poles used 9ft. 6ins. long, 1 3/4 ins. diamter. Number of poles 21; height of three supporting masts 13ft. Apart from this there were twenty four lashing, each of which was tightened with wdges, and the total weight of the mast was 1 1/2 cwts. I really think the designers hsould be reported to the Festival Committee. 

And the picture on the right is yet another Skylon. The story of its construction is told by the S.M. of the 5th Wednesbury Group, which was responsible for its erection. He says:- 
 "It was constructed as our contribtion to our Association Scouting Festival of Britain Exhibiton held for ten days in the local park. Apart from time spent in planning and experiments, its construction and erection took eighteen hours of work in one week-end by some twenty-two Scouts, Senior Scouts and Rovers. It soared for a total heigh of 35 feet into the air, and its base (before the ropes stretched) was 5 feet off the ground. It was cosntructed of 72 staffs and other spars, with over 2000 feet of rope in 154 seperate lashings and knots entailing nearly 300 whippings. The idea, originated by A.S.M W. Barlow, who was designer and constructional chief with C.M. J. Barlow, was reported with interest by the main Midland newspapers, and was immediately met with cries of 'can't be done', At their works the designers were told by experienced constructional engineers that its erection would be completely impossible and even the D.C. later confessed that he only had his faith in those undertaking the job. At the exhibition Scouts camped and slept in the park each night, which is believed to the first time that anyone has ever (legally) done so there before. The Wednesbury Town Council were very helpful in that respect."
 All the Troops that have had a go at making Skylons this year seem to have had a great deal of fun in doing so as well as working out jolly good engineering feats.

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