Children’s leisure time and the State

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Cambridge District Scouts and the Council


Cambridge Scout District became involved in a week of youth ‘A Week of Youth’.  Predating war time measures or the Welfare State the local authorities identified a need to support young people.  The District Minutes did not expand on this initiative or the Scouting involvement.

1939 – 1940

Wars generate a reassessment of the state of the Nation.  In particular the physical health and educational skills of those who will be fighting and working are revealed on enlisting.  In WW2 the evacuation of children also revealed many problems as the children moved away from their familial systems of care.

Evacuees – away from home the lack of social skills became clear.

The conditions during the early months of the Second World War generated the response that ‘the Board of Education would undertake direct responsibility for the welfare of boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 20 who had ceased full time education’.  Local Youth Committees were formed to act.

In separate, but similar, moves wider opportunities for outdoor and indoor physical recreation was encouraged.

The Scout Association printed ‘Suggestions for Leisure Time Activities for School-children’ which was circulated to Directors of Education to help those with evacuees away from their parents.  


Following concerns about the creation of a compulsory national youth movement such as the German ‘Jugend’ and Italian ‘Balilla’ the intent was clarified; to strengthen the hand of local authorities and voluntary organisations.

The responsibility for coordinating this was with the Local Authorities.


The Scouts in Cambridge participated in the Cambridge Educational Council from the late 40’s to at least 1956.  Quarterly news Bulletins were circulated to all members, ‘recognised’ youth organisations, Churches, state bodies and other interested institutions in the City and County.

Information on potential speakers and resources was shared, cross organisational sporting events were organised and the wider aspects of providing for ‘Youth’ were discussed and arranged.  W. T Thurbon provided statistics on the Boy Scouts for the 1952 conference but for the most part in records the specific workings of individual Associations, Brigades, Clubs, Councils and Forces were subsumed into the whole. 

The Teachers, Probation officers, Workers Education Association and His Majesties Inspectors were all represented. 

The formation of council lead bodies to provide activities for those over 15 was given as a cause of decline of 15 year olds in Scouting in this period.   It was not noticeably greater than at any other decade and ‘leakage’ at this age is the norm.


The Howard Mallett Club was opened in March 1968 and the ADC Development R. E. Harper, sat on the committee as one of the three ‘with an interest in the leisure time activities of young people’.  One of these three ‘shall be a senior member of the University’.  Others were drawn from the Council, the Police and one with interest in the needs of students and residents from overseas.  The Scouts occasionally booked facilities at the centre. 

(Mayor from 1954 to 1955 Howard R. Mallett was associated with the Boy Scouts for nearly 50 years. Throughout the war, Mr. Mallett sent a monthly news bulletin to many local Scout group.)


City Youth Council ceased operating.


Juvenile Courts were ordering offenders to attend Scouts for a period.  In the same period misbehaviour, bad enough to be reported in the District Minutes, occurs.  The connection is not clearly made.


During the expansion of Trumpington many of the bodies involved in 1950 were present discussing and creating resources for the young; as were Cambridge Scouters.  The 1st Trumpington was formed in 2017.

Council funding

The Council has a long history of supported Scouting activities, generally providing money for camps, rebating Council fees and rates or dropping fees for the occasional hire of Council premisies. Much of this was part of wider support to voluntary organisations and continued into the era of direct council involvement.

The District often advertised the availability of funds or acted as a conduit and distributer of the funds. In 1955 ‘Camp Grants from the City’ to District were £34/5/0. It is not known if this was a yearly total, an installment claimed or automatically allocated or a designated sum for a single big event.

JWR Archivist Feb 2019