16th Cambridge (Littleton House School): Outline

Cambridge District Scout Archive

The history of the LHS troop, pack and group is completely entwined with the School.  The involvement of the Corpus Christi and University Rovers is the second major factor in its continued existence.  The school was described in WW2 as being for Mentally Deficient Boys and had specifically been relocated to Cambridge with private funding to cater for this need. The age range of the boys is unknown.

The function of the school may be assumed to be the reason for the Corpus Christi association, which was written into the University Rovers constitution, but when this started is not known.

1921 – 1934

The early history of the school is poorly documented. It is recorded that school was moved into the Rectory at Girton in 1920, the Old rectory had been purchased in 1917 or 1918.   It is not entirely clear which year the school moved to Cambridge area. 

The early registration of LHS is not entirely clear.

In 1918 the 16th Cambridge LHS Troop opens and is registered as 914, nominally in 1921. (The formal IHQ date was 1921 but it appears that the numbers were issued several years earlier.  For instance the 12th Cambridge registration was dated 1919 in hand written ink; the certificate stub with IHQ number attached was printed with the date 30th Sept 1921.)

In 1918 the 16th Cambridge LHS Pack is registered as is 16th Cambridge /A Pack with a different IHQ number as was normal.  The ‘A’ means it was the first pack registered using the alphabetic system.  Fairly quickly packs attached to troops took the troop number and the letters were left for unattached packs. This ended with the start of the Group system in 1928. The IHQ number of 7564 is assumed to date from this re- registration into a Group.

This is the only recorded link between LHS and A Pack.  A Pack was ‘Miss Young’s’ and she is later recorded as doing eleven years as a leader although A Pack drops from the later lists.  Many of the early records are from District activities and although A Pack won the 1921 Totem competition it does not appear that they were involved in many District events after that date. Some doubt remains as to whether the 16th Cambridge A Pack and Miss Young’s A Pack are he same.   

The activities of the Scout Troop are even less well recorded.  They recorded Scouts yearly from the first census we have in 1921 both Cubs and Scouts from 1928 until 1934.

LHS continues as the 16th until it becomes part of Cambridge North in the four way split of the District in 1934.

Mid Cambridgeshire interlude

The records for this period are largely missing and the Group was outside ‘Cambridge’ District. What is known is outlined below

Littleton House School, Cambridge North/ Cambridge East/ Mid Cambridgeshire  1935 – 1946/9

Cambridge North (1934 – 1935) did not number its Groups, nor did Cambridge East or Mid Cambridgeshire, the two later names for the same District.  However the IHQ number 7564 remained the same.

Littleton House School moved into Mid Cambridgeshire in 1935, the whole of the District being reabsorbed into Cambridge c 1946. During WW2 they were run by members of Girton College. From Girton’s War: The Village 1939 – 1945, by D R de Lacey we have reminiscence’s from two of the leaders:

  • Mary Callister              CM      and later
  • Pam Gregory               CM

 The following descriptions are from the recollections.

‘In July 1943 we took the pack camping in a field near the school and I was asked to do the cooking on a field oven, which was completely new to me.’ ‘One night a German bomber, presumably on his way home, opened fire with his machine gun and some bushes caught fire. There was no panic and the fire was quickly extinguished, but not before one of the boys said “It’s like Moses and the burning bush ‘Miss!”‘

We may hypothesize that the camouflaging of the tents was insufficient.

The school was described as being for ‘Mentally deficient boys’ and the inexperienced leaders taught them knots. ‘Fortunately being mentally deficient they had forgotten each week what they had learned the week before so it was not really taxing. Then I discovered tracking which was a huge success.’

During the war the LHS Group joined with the Girton Scout Group, also an un-numbered Group in Mid Cambridgeshire District, in collecting waste paper.

The whole of the Mid Cambridgeshire District was reabsorbed into Cambridge District around 1946 as the Mid Cambridgeshire District leadership team struggled to recruit leaders.  Numbers were allocated in the 50’s for the transferred Groups.  The ‘16th’ Cambridge had been reused in the meantime. 

See 52nd Cambridge (Littleton House School)

JWR Archivist June 2022