Amalgamations

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Cambridge Archive

Amalgamations between Troops or Groups occurred from as early as 1908/9 when the 2nd Cambridge closed and patrols were attached to the 1st Cambridge District (Cherry Hinton).   Amalgamations and other unifications occur for many reasons, under local and national stresses.  This is a review of forms of amalgamation, not a full list of all amalgamations in Cambridge District.  For these see individual Group records.

Temporary amalgamations

Attaching as a separate patrol may indicate that a troop had hopes of soon restarting.  The 2nd Cambridge (above) the Patrol moved as a named subset ‘patrols of the 2nd working with the 1st Cambridge District Cherry Hinton’.  The 2nd Cambridge Newnham, did restart, having maintained an identity within the 1st Cambridge District for up to two years.

In contrast when the 3rd Cambridge attached to the 9th it was less clearly intent on restarting.  The patrol in ‘a patrol of the keenest was attached to the 9th Queens College Choir’ reads as a quantity.  That incarnation of the 3rd had a short history and little hope of restarting.

War time amalgamations

Scouting records from the years of the Great War are poor.  It was a period when Troops started and folded frequently and most of the ‘Cambridge District’ (for which read villages) closed.   Amalgamations in this period are not recorded although for Troops closer together it is likely that some boys or patrols found new homes.  No evidence of this comes from the names of Troops.

Our District Troops mostly had to close down during the war; but half the Villages in the District seem to be clamouring for Troops now.   Reveille 1920

Second World War records show many groups worked together.   A record of the requisitioning of Scout halls for evacuees, Home Guards, Air Raid Wardens or other war time needs exists and groups needed to cooperate.  Many leaders went to active service (that is, the Armed Forces) and left the area, as did those potential leaders the Rovers.  Some amalgamations, such as that of the 42nd/29th were of the troop but not the pack.

District Minutes 28/01/1944              ‘Mr Bennett reported that the 67th would be working with the 13th pack. The position would be reviewed after the war’

A particularly convoluted war time amalgamation was finally resolved in 1950 when the Local Association recommended           

  • 25thpack become                                            25th Cambridge Open Victoria Road    Congregational Church
  • 29/42 A Pack become                                     29th Gp                         East Barnwell
  • 29/42nd and 25th Troop and 29/42nd B Pack    42nd Gp Open HQ Trinity Church Hall

The 25th were recorded as ‘working with’ the 29th/42nd following the withdrawal of sponsorship.  The needs to separate the 29th and 42nd and to absorb a leaderless 25th Troop were resolved in this plan.

Permanent amalgamations

Not all amalgamations hoped to be temporary.  These could be equal or unequal or move imperceptibly from one to another as the background situation changed.  The 11th/9th was a permanent amalgamation.  The 9th had ceased to operate with the increasing ill health of C T Wood, their founder and driving force of the troop; a very significant Scouting influence in Cambridge and Cambridgeshire.  It remains the only Group with dual numbers in the Cambridge District. The 6th/17th Cambridge also remains, but now in another district.

Equal amalgamations

Groups that amalgamated on an equal basis may be identified by the retention of the joint numbers.    The 6th/17th, 7th/23rd, 42nd /29th and 11th/ 9th are examples of this mutually beneficial arrangement.  The 67th/13th started as an equal amalgamation but the 67th diminished (see below).

The 7th/ 23rd amalgamated on the closing of the County School (7th), a group losing its base and catchment. The 7th VSU amalgamated with the 5th VSU (see below).

The potentially confusing 4th / 17th was a shared building between the 4th Cambridge Scouts and the 17th Cambridge Guides.

Unequal Amalgamations

District Minutes 1935             10th amalgamated into 36th  ‘The committee could not recommend that dual registration to preserve the 10th but might suggest the GSM consider the formation of Christ College patrols within the Group.’

District Minutes 1943             ‘55th pack amalgamated with and became part of the 12th Group’      The 55th number was immediately absorbed into the 12th.                                                           

District Minutes 1944                         ‘Mr Bennett reported that the 67th would be working with the 13th pack. The combined group would use the 13th HQ.  The Scouters of the 67th would be in charge of the combined packs.  The position would be reviewed after the war’.  Despite the Scouters of the 67th being in charge the 67th did not restart as a separate Group and the 13th remained.  The 67th was a pack of evacuees and initially run by students from Selwyn College.

The 11th/9th amalgamation appears to be based on mutual friendship of the leaders, possibly similar styles and catchments.  As noted above, the 9th was not operating and HQ deemed it to be no more than a change of name.  It was an act of respect and friendship to C T Wood and has been deemed an equal amalgamation in spirit then and since.

‘In 1960 Charlie Wood was in failing health. He rang Alan Mackenzie, Scout Leader of the 11th Cambridge Scout Troop and asked if the two troops could be merged. The combined troop was to be known as the 11th/9th.’       J Yates History

Earlier amalgamations with the 11th (later 11th/9th) were not equal.  From a 1931-1932  amalgamation the 11th remain whilst the 34th ceased and the 1968 amalgamation with the 2nd approved by District ‘the 11th/9th should form a Cub pack and the 2nd be cancelled’.

In 2005 the 7th/ 23rd, an equal amalgamation, was listed with the 13th.  They met in the 13th HQ, to the mutual benefit of both Groups but in time the 7th/23rd element was dropped; the 13th remain.

Absorption’s

In 1956 the 29th East Barnwell is observed to have ‘absorbed’ the 10th Girton.  The 10th reopened quickly and the movement of boys back and forth is not recorded.

Reinventions

5th and 7th Cambridge Venture Scout Units were both attached to strong school based groups.  They had been working together for some time and become Tithe VSU at the closing of the County school in 1976 (7th). 

Amalgamations before formation

 In May 1910 ‘the choir boys were formed into two patrols and attached to the 1st Cambridge Troop’. The choir patrols became known as the “Queens’ Own” and during the summer were formed into their own troop, the 9th Cambridge—Queens’ College’.          (Yates – History of the 9th Cambridge)        

From the District Minutes of 23/1/22            ‘Trinity College Choir to work as part of 7th’.  This block intake into the 7th Cambridge suggests a proposal that the Trinity College Choir would like to form a troop but was attached to the 7th either to prevent (yet another) small section with limited leadership base or to act as an introduction to Scouting for a potential new troop.  No separate Trinity College Choir troop has been recorded.

Village Amalgamations

The records do not show two neighbouring village troops amalgamating.  Little but the bare fact is recorded concerning the many early name changes in Cambridge District groups (those outside the town boundaries). 

Between 1912 and 1919 the 3rd Cambridge District shifts from ‘Longstanton and Lolworth’ to ‘Longstanton, Lolworth and Willingham’ to ‘Lolworth’.  This suggests recognition of the changing catchment area of a troop rather than amalgamation. The villages are not listed as separate troops before inclusion in the title.   By the 1920 list the 3rd Cambridge District is ‘Willingham’.  Lazy record keeping should not be discounted.   

1st Harston (South Cambridgeshire) started as a patrol of the 56th Haslingfield before the 1935 split of Cambridge District. In turn they formed Patrols each based on a nearby village; Harston, Harlton, Hauxton, Newton and Little Eversden. For a time patrols met in their own villages, amalgamating for combined events. The name of the Group did not alter.

As Troops were required to re register each year name changes were easier, however, small spaces on paper forms, abbreviations that ‘everyone knows’  and idleness mean that many records used shortened versions of names (then and now) and confuse this record stream. 

‘Amalgamations’ for single events

Some records suggest that Groups were working together for an event.  Drawn competitions usually have this fact noted in written commentary and the double entry on the trophy noted below is an unlikely repetition.  Neither amalgamation is yet clear.

16th/ 44th listed on Cambridge South District Cub Athletic Trophy in both 1996 and 2000

27th/7th seen in 2002 – no clear context can be extracted from the entry.

In Conclusion

Amalgamations absorb Scouts likely to be lost as a Group closes.  The memory of the closing Group persists awhile and, if a new Group does not soon arise from the sheltered embers, dies.  Ownership of the space tends to dictate which name survives.  A few retain the joint name long enough for it become the new identity.  A very few remember the history of their forebears.

JWR Archivist Jan 2019