Cambridge District Scout Archives

Flooding is not an unusual event in the flat country north of the City of Cambridge, much of which sits below sea level.  The ‘islands’ were identified by the first settlers; the highest of which is Ely which stands on a hill 39m above sea level.   Fen flooding is generally not a problem – if it floods you can’t camp, but you may need to mend the dykes.  Flooding elsewhere requires learning about different landscapes.

Cambridge Archives

1934                Granta at Abington dried up facilitating the digging out of a bathing pool

1947                Collection at St Georges Day to the Fen Distress Fund          Severe flooding of the Fens following very wet winter and high spring tides

1953                Cambridge scouts mended dykes in Kings Lynn and helping at WVS centres during the Great Flood.  The Mayor Flood Relief Fund was a recipient of local fundraising.

                        Numbers were low because many were ‘Flood bashing on the Ouse.’  Report of University meeting.

                        Delivered leaflets on behalf of WVS requesting clothing for flood victims

60th Cambridge (Leys school) ‘SENIOR SCOUT TROOP Operation ” Flood Relief ” has been the main job for senior scouts in recent weeks. It began on .the first Saturday afternoon during the flood emergency and continued for ten days. At the W.V.S. bases at Thornton Road, Coldham’s Lane and Madingley Road, parties of senior and junior scouts assisted by members of the School joined in the work of unloading
lorries and sorting the clothes parcels. They were unfortunately not on duty when the Queen Mother visited the bases and talked to the voluntary helpers.
(From Leys Fortnightly magazine)

1954                       5th Cambridge                  Lake District        one party had to return to camp in the early hours of the morning.  Their camp which was about 1500 feet above base and about three miles away had been swamped in the night by the overflow from a small lake.

1957                Flood Relief in Derbyshire      Five Cambridge Scouts who, on being faced with the floods reacted with such support as to receive the commendation of the Chief Constable.

1974                St Georges Day collection was sent to Australian Scouts who had suffered in the floods

1979                The Avon, Church Farm, Little Somerford, Chippenham, Wiltshire.           ‘During the camp we had 2 days of torrential rain. Returning to the site the village was under nearly 2ft of water. The van got through ok, but we were worried about the site; it was wet but ok.  Whilst cooking the evening meal on the only fire pit that was still operational it was noticed the water in the river was actually rising, even though the rain had stopped.  The Scouts went to bed but PL’s stayed up. About 2330hrs the water had risen to 6 inches below the bank. Scouts were woken; patrol tents moved to higher ground, as we did this the river broke its bank and flooded the site. Scout Staves and rope were used to mark a safe path out of the water as we moved kit and Scouts to safety. Wet stores and dry stores could not be evacuated in time’



‘The farmer had neglected to tell us that after severe rain, further up the valley sluice gates were often opened, to prevent flooding the other villages and this occasionally flooded the access track field and the opposing bank to where the camp was pitched. He was very apologetic but also amazed at Scouting resilience. ‘

‘ For years afterwards 2 of our white Icelandic tents had a water line ‘tide mark’ at 18inches which is the depth the water got to where the stores tents were.’                Geoff Oliver 28th Cambridge

2008                Cherry Jam Centenary Camp             This camp was constructed in baking sunshine, some bikini clad volunteers even put aside their scarves as they toiled ahead of the opening.  Then the weather moved to drizzle and downpour.  The gently undulating site pooled water; those who donned wellington boots misjudged the depth of the ‘puddles’ and experienced both water and drowned worms coming over the top.  For some it is that memory that lingers.

 11th/9th photo

2018                Wicken Fen                  This National Trust site is preserved as a low lying nature reserve and by intent is regularly flooded. A green field camp site has been constructed raised on platforms.

It should be noted that Crafts Hill District, once part of Cambridge District and standing directly north of the city, has a badge that depicts a triangulation station (Trig point) with the spot height of 246. 

This is the highest point in the district, in feet, in the atypically high western portion of the district.

2nd Cambridge on Camp  It is not clear if the River Leadon is flooded