1951: Royal Show

Cambridge District Scout Archive

The Royal Show was an annual, peripatetic show held by the Royal Agricultural Society every year between 1839 and 2009. In 1951 it came to Cambridge, 27 years after the previous visit, and the Scouts and Guides were asked to provide runners and to give demonstrations in a marquee. The request to the County from HQ was for 75 – 100 runners on the opening day and 30 a day thereafter, and that a smaller group of Senior Scouts were on hand in the marquee. Held on a site in Trumpington a reel can be seen free from the British Film Institute.

The Scouts were asked to demonstrate three or four different types of fires and make twisters or dampers to hand to the visitors. The 12th also demonstrated the making of a kayak – an event recalled by participant Terry Shaw in 2020. The 11th were also named as being in attendance and the 44th (Trumpington) selected the ‘better’ Scouts as it was both arduous and sloppiness should be strictly avoided. The 44th (Trumpington) Scouts were planning to sleep on site.

The show ran for four days and Scouts were given permission by the Council Education Committee to attend for all four days by their schools – if the headmasters approved. The District coordinator ADC (S) Alan Mackenzie (FAJ MacK) wrote to both parents and headmasters for permission. He also offered to write to employers, but to what effect is unknown.

The Scout in the background below is possibly of the 2nd Cambridge whose scarf was chocolate brown.

The ‘work experience’ of the event, a term not then in use, may have played a part in persuading both parent and school, but the ‘service’ to others, the local pride in hosting the event and the fact that it was a Royal event may all have influenced the decisions. Pupils are known to have attended from the County, Central and Chesterton Secondary Modern schools and Comberton VC.

A single shot of a Scout in attendance can be seen at the end of the Pathe News Reel ‘The Queen At Royal Show (1951)’ and another (below) taken from the BFI screening, which also shows pictures of Guides and Sea Scouts.

The Scout is passing the Cup to Queen Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother) to award to the farmer on the right.

The Royal Agricultural Society donated £26/5/0 to the District.

The Royal Show was also held in Trumpington in 1960 and 1961. No records of the Scout involvement remain in the archive but the Pathe News of 1960 shows a brief picture of a Scout running. The County Scout Council records hold details of the preparation but not of those who took part of the event as it occurred.

Tony Claydon was a ‘runner’ at the event in 1960 or ’61 (as recalled 2020) and recalls the job involved taking things around the site such as trophies, rosettes and messages.

JWR Archivist Dec 2020