19th Cambridge (Wesleyan) 1914 – 1920: Outline History

Cambridge District Scout Archive


The present Wesleyan Methodist Church was built in 1913.  It was a new centre for Methodism in Cambridge to accommodate the influx of students to the University.  The start of a Scout troop is not known to be connected to the revitalisation that this may have initiated.  The needs of the congregation, as detailed below, may be the greater factor.


First opened in Michaelmas 1914 this Controlled troop was based at the Wesleyan Church, Christ’s Pieces.  At the point of registration in 1918 the meeting place was 17 Jesus Lane.  During the Great War such late registrations were the norm, although the full four years was unusual.  At a time when many troops closed this stands out as a significant event.

No references to a Cub pack have been found.

The troop benefited from at least one Medical student, Donald Winnicott, who was in training and exempt from call up.  The starting date of his involvement is unclear, but he was active in 1916, aged 20, and he may be assumed to have been active from 1914 when he first attended Jesus College.  He joined the Royal Navy in 1917.

  • Donald W Winnicott               SM

Donald Woods Winnicott attended Leys School, Cambridge as a border and from 1914 Jesus College Cambridge.  I have only found two references in the sparse war time records in what can only have been a short Scouting career. 

The Winnicott Trust drew my attention to letter from 1916 to his mother in which he discussed the Troop.  As a Scout history the points of interest are that he was approaching individuals for funds and had ‘two half sovereigns within a week’ from Miss Pratt and Mrs. J H S McArthur, Hon President of the Leys, and 5/- from a Wesleyan Draper.  He calculated that if the boys brought their penny a week they would raise 2/- a week; which suggests a Troop of 24.   They were now ‘out of debt’. 

Donald was soliciting small financial gifts from friends and family to help in supporting one of the boys.  Winnicott was paying 1/2 a fortnight for medication (one shilling and tuppence) for the family.  The father was unable to work, paralyzed and fitting, the older of the two brothers, both Scouts, was ill and the only child old enough to work.

Winnicott became a paediatrician and psychoanalyst who became an influential thinker on child development and play.  His appreciation of the role of the mother and his observations on her two boys ‘one of the poorest’ (families) and ‘one of the best’ (the sick Scout), ‘clean and respectable’ demonstrate an early consideration of these topics, as does the focus on learning through play, as in scouting.

The 19th hired an old slaughter house in Romsey Town in 1916. The report of a break in and destruction of property can be found in the Cambridge Journal of August 1916.


From Reveille! a single issue District magazine of January 1920 we have

19th (Wesleyans)        Poor old Die-Hards, with never a Headquarters to die in. But they are far from dead. A.S.M. Holder is to be warmly congratulated on the way he has kept the Troop together, and smiling in face of all difficulties. Their football team was Al. last winter. They have got a new H.Q. at last, and Green has never ceased cackling yet.

  • Holder ASM

ASM Holder is also referred to as ‘Harold Hard Holder’ in what reads to be a light piece on a deeper issue, a strong leaning towards Woodcraft, perhaps as epitomised by the British White Fox or the American Seaton.  A ‘stunt’ is mentioned but not described.

The Troop had presumably lost its home and recently relocated to be near the 13th somewhere in Romsey Town. 

They last appear on lists in 1920. The 19th (Wesley) restarted in 1944.

JWR Archivist June 2022