17th Cambridge District (Barton): Outline

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Barton is the only village known to have the number 17th Cambridge District.  The 17th Cambridge District appears in a reference in 1915 but without a name. Despite the general loss of ‘village’ groups in the Great War a 17th CD started at this date and no other possible names have arisen.  Many Troops formed during the war were not registered until 1919.

A period of uncertainty then occurs within the records between 1919 and 1924

Census returns are available from 1921 to 1984.  From these it is likely that the Troop ran largely continuously from (possibly) 1915 and very probably from 1919 until it was moved into West Cambridge in the 1935 split of Cambridge District.  Other than the possibly missed 1925 Census figures are returned from 1921 to 1934.

Cubs are listed, intermittently in the records from 1923 to 1935.  Cubs were not listed on the Census before 1928.


Reference to 17th Cambridge District by number only, it is not clearly identified by or associated with a village.


Three strands: Barton, Barton and Grantchester, Grantchester.  The names merge for a period but they both submit separate census returns throughout for Scouts.  Although not clear the joint registration is probably for a Pack.  Census returns for Cubs are not given at this date.  The late cancellation of the joint (pack?) in October 1924 two years after the start of distinct Grantchester pack in April 1922 is a long administrative delay but not improbable.

Elsewhere we have

From Reveille!, a single issue District magazine of Jan 1920, we have New Troops have been recently started at Barton (by our old friend Miss Bickerstaffe, …).’

  • Miss L Bickerstaffe  (Lucy Camille)             SM          

Scouts are recorded in the first available census 1921 – 1924.  A gap appears in 1925.  This was often an administrative failure to re-register every year as required but they were re registered in 1926.


The troop was re-registered at this date as Barton with a new IHQ number.  Scouts are entered on census returns and Cubs from 1928 and 1929.


The troop was re-registered at this date as Barton with another new IHQ number (7579), probably as a Group, rather than a Troop, in the National reorganization.  Only Scouts are listed on the 1930 census but Cubs and Scouts in 1931 – 1934 and Rovers in 1931.

The Rover(s) of 1931 are likely to be University Rovers from the Jesus and Sidney Patrol who were supporting the Group.  St Catharine’s Rovers had been involved before this date and the Group was ‘taken on’ (is henceforth to be in the care of) by Jesus and Sidney in Lent 1931.

  • R M Allen                                                        Rover
  • Rupert Annand            Jesus and Sidney        Rover
  • Wilfred H Waring       Jesus and Sidney         Rover
  • O. Dahl                        St Catharine’s              Rover

The Rovers drew up a programme for the Troop and recorded starting a Court of Honour and treating the PLs as young men and giving them a role in running the troop.  The Rover Log (not for general publication) also described an ‘incompetent TL’ in ‘ripe middle age’.  The Log also relates ‘the sudden and unexpected interference with running of a meeting by the GSM, an elderly lady, and the indeterminate position and authority of the Rovers present called for much tact and patience’.  The later entry ‘During the term there occurred at Barton events about which the less said the better’ suggests that tact and patience were insufficient.  The contact appears to end here, Jesus and Sidney handed it back to St Catharine’s Patrol in Michaelmas 1931. E J Percival remained helping with the Cubs, and later J M Cobbam regularly walked to Barton to help Miss Bickerstaff with her Cubs (about 4 miles each way).

The ‘elderly lady’ was 46.

The troop camped with the 22nd in 1931.

Cubs had been held at the house of the Cubmaster but moved to the Institute.  They had about 12 in the pack.

  • Miss L Bickerstaff       CM      and in 1931     GSM
  • E J Percival                  Jesus and Sidney         Rover
  • Callan                          St Catharine’s              Rover

The warranting of Miss Bickerstaff as a Lady GSM was most unusual and only permitted in exceptional circumstances.  What these were is not recorded.

Although the Cambridge/Cambridge District dual naming system had stopped in 1933 we have no record of Barton being renamed XXth Cambridge.  This applied to three other Groups and the change may have been held over in anticipation of the anticipated split.

1935    West Cambridge

At the split the new Districts dropped the Xth Cambridge and Groups became known as ‘Village’ or ‘1st Village’.

The very large Cambridge District split in 1935 into initially three then four Districts.  Barton was first allocated to Cambridgeshire South in the pre split division but incorporated into the late addition of West Cambridgeshire District.  It was re-integrated into Cambridgeshire South (the District that was to become Granta in 1974) but the exact date is not known.  West Cambridge itself withered and the last Group went in 1952.  Records for Cambridgeshire South/ Granta are not available however Barton is not on the 1974 list of Groups for the District.

JWR Archivist June 2022