A BOY Scout flag from Colchester has “come home” after roughly 80 years thanks to the efforts of the city's former MP who purchased it at an auction... 200 miles away.

Colchester High Steward Sir Bob Russell purchased a historic flag belonging to 18th Colchester (St Giles) Boy Scouts at an auction in Sheffield.

Founded in 1921, the group is assumed to have closed during the Second World War due to there being no records of its existence after the war started.

Sir Bob became aware of the flag after being contacted by a national Scout historian who alerted him to the pending auction of the Colchester flag.

He put in an e-mailed bid and was successful at £67 – acquiring not only the historic flag but also a second item in Lot 1475 - a shield of the 4th Sleaford Girl Guides, Lincolnshire.

“The auction was on a Friday, and I had to claim the two items by 5pm the following Monday," said Sir Bob. 

"That day I drove to Sheffield, and then by tram and bus made my way to the auction house.

"Taking a Scout flag, on a six-foot pole, back on a tram and a bus, and clutching the Guide shield, was a challenge.

"My day visit to Sheffield took a total of 14 hours and involved 440 miles of driving.”

He reclaimed the flag back in January 2020 but Covid restrictions meant he was not able to do anything with the two items until more recently. 

The flag has now found a new home at St Giles Church, which closed about 70 years ago and is now the Centre for Freemasonry in Colchester.

Displayed on a wall next to where the altar used to be, the flag is protected by a glass cover and a wooden frame which was made by a skilled member of the North Colchester Men’s Shed, based in Langham.

Sir Bob, who for many years was President of Colchester Scouts, said: "How the 18th Colchester Scout Flag and the 4th Sleaford Girl Guides shield ended up in the same lot at an auction in Sheffield is a mystery.

"All I have been able to establish is that they were part of a house clearance whose contents were taken to the sale room.”