23rd Cambridge Rover Crew

Cambridge District Scout Archive

The following is taken from from Manliness and Morality  by J A Mangan, Manchester University Press 1987 and contains two direct quotes.

The book included a summary from the 23rd Cambridge Rover Crew Log book, which I have not accessed directly, and looked at two Crew, the 23rd being clearly the more successful.

‘... the 23rd (St Matthews), which had a successful crew from 1923 until 1945.  At first beginning as three or four older boys meeting separately and helping the other Scout functions, the crew started formally in 1926 and then met constantly until 1939 when civil defense duties meant that such a regular programme became impossible.

Institutional support was provided by the local church and membership overlapped considerably with that of the Church of England Mens’ Society.  The crew regularly attended the monthly communion.  Camping weekends emptied the Bible classes and Sunday School and on at least one occasion the rector complained that they were of little use to the church as they did not attend services and used the property without contributing much in return.  (The overlap between church and crew was particularly strong, the crew having named chaplains from the church and some served as Sunday school teachers.)  Mostly the crew and church worked together, recognizing the benefits.

In the winter the meetings centred on discussions and debates. Social events centred on the church and Scout concerts, harvest suppers, Ranger/ Rover socials and joint meetings with the very large University Rover Crew.  Many were also leaders at troops in other parts of the town.  Some members had joined from other troops without their own crew. 

Many members were also part of the Scout Boat Club with its own training and competition schedule.  Autumn was often the busiest time, existing members returning from camps and new Scouts moving up into the Crew. 

‘At its strongest the crew contained about 20 members, and the impression left, after reading the Crew’s log book, is of an active, educational, social and service programme directly arising out of the life of the church and Scout troop.’

For some the vigil and investiture was an important step.  Generally there was a reluctance to engage in any badge work or a formal training scheme was noted.  Attempts to move away from constructive leisure to formal Questing also largely failed.

The Crew photograph below is taken in 1931

from A J Covell’s album Cambridgeshire Collection

Walter Miller

As recalled by his son and grandson March 2022, Walter was a member until WW2 intervened. Walter was a central member, Herbert Wise (curate) and Reg Eaden were brothers in law, Jim Samson was his best friend and Arthur Samson his best man (in Jim’s absence). He describes lots of jollity and play. Jim Samson was a stream of anecdotes, and employed Walter for his last few years before retirement when the department store, which had employed him as head of department, closed. The Crew were central to many entertainments to raise money.

A Woodbadge course held at Trumpington Hall in 1931 had 16 attendees, 3 of which were from Bury St Edmunds. The names identified from the signatures on Walters notes include Joe Newton, Reg Eaden, Walter Miller, William Wolfe (all 23rd), Ken North, John Covell (13th), SAV Stan Roper (7th).

The Curate Rev Herbert Wise went on to the new church of St. Georges, Chesterton in 1932 and the 54th Cambridge (St George’s) started in that year.

JWR Archivist Mar 2021