30th Cambridge Rover Crew: Outline History

Cambridge District Scout Archive

The 30th Cambridge did not come into existence until November 2nd 1928.  However, Cambridge Town Rovers has a clear history ahead of this date and after. 

  • Cambridge YMCA Rover Troop                                  1923
  • Cambridge Town Rover Troop           10901              1923 – 1925
  • 30th Cambridge (Town Rovers)          1992                1928 -1930
  • 30th Cambridge (Town Rovers)          10719              1930 – 1939
  • 30th Cambridge (Cambridge Town)                           1948
  • District Rover Crew                            36903              1964 – 1966    

Many significant names in Cambridge Scouting were engaged in the Town Rovers in the 1928 and 1930 registrations.

Cambridge YMCA Rover Troop                                1923

Cambridge Town Rover Troop         10901              1923

This Rover Troop was registered, in both its forms, on the same day 30th January 1923.  The YMCA Troop registration is not stamped and has no IHQ number.  It appears to have been reconsidered during the registration process and immediately re-designated as a ‘YMCA Patrol’ of the Cambridge Town Rovers, even though the more general ‘Town Patrol’ was, perhaps, not yet functioning.  It certainly had no meeting place.  The unused YMCA Troop was ‘controlled’ by the YMCA, but the Town Rover registration was ‘open’.

It was the YMCA that organised B.P.’s visit of February 1908 to Cambridge and members of the YMCA were active members of the local association.

The named Rover Mate was R V Jackson with the YMCA as his address. The YMCA document gives one leader and seven Rovers, the forwarded Town registration of the same date gives one leader and ten Rovers, which suggest either the dates were wrong, possibly pre-entered on the forms, or three town based Rovers were known to be interested.

  • RV Jackson                  Rover Mate
  • G C Langham ?

It is not clear from surviving documents whether the Crew was an irregular collective of Rovers generally attached to town Troops for occasional or District events, or a Crew of unattached Rovers.  Census numbers suggest the latter option – double counting would be avoided.  In Census returns the Rovers give numbers for 1923 – 1925.  The first year of these is labelled YMCA Rovers, which might suggest only the YMCA Patrol was active or that the debate concerning the formal title had been forgotten.

Mention is made of a (the) Town Rover Group (Patrol?) being formed on the 11th December 1923.


30th Cambridge (Town Rovers)         1992                1928 – 1930

Re registered on 11th November 1928 with the number 30th Cambridge this was in the same year as the Group registrations but in the batch of new registrations along with the 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th Cambridge.  The IHQ numbers are consecutive, 28thbeing 1990, 29th 1991, … . They met at the District HQ in Grafton Street.

The new Crew started to record Census numbers in 1928 and ran through to 1938. 

  • W Balfour Gourlay                  Rover Leader
  • Maurice John Vine                  Assistant Rover Leader

30th Cambridge (Town Rovers)         10719              1930 – 1938

The Crew was re registered 10th January 1930.  It is not clear why.  The IHQ number changed and Census returns (above) were not interrupted.  The introduction of a GSM, if not a recording error, might suggest a change was required. 

  • M J Vine                                  ARL
  • T G Room                                GSM

The named leaders in both the 1928 and 1930 were able and experienced Scouts.  Balfour – Gourlay was actively collecting plants abroad during these years and his absence may have necessitated a change.  The new IHQ number, however, suggests a more major change than that of named leader.  They are missing from the otherwise seemingly complete 1930 list of Group details. This may suggest either that they were an occasional collective rather than a fully functional Crew, or that there was a short interregnum.  

They were entering separate Census returns and it is unlikely that they were counting members twice for the National records.

A number of events at this time specifically mention Cambridge Town Rovers, in particular the 1930 and 1931District Concerts.  They also did a lot of work at Abington Campsite ahead of the opening. 

The Crew is described as being ‘barely existing in 1938. Census returns for 1939 and 1940 are missing but the Crew is recorded as being in abeyance in 1939.  Formally closed 26th November 1943

30th Cambridge (Cambridge Town)                          1948? – 1948

This post war initiative did not get so far as a HQ number.  It was recorded as being ‘in existence in 1948 AGM, which may suggest foundation a year earlier.  Census returns were entered for 1948, but no leaders are known but it was listed as closed in1948.

It is noted in 1947 AGM that ’The branch (Rovers) is still affected by the calling up of young men of Rover age.’  In 1947 it was noted that only the very strong 12th and the school crew were in action – essentially true although other Groups registered small very numbers.


District Rover Crew                           36903              1964 – 1966

The Crew was restarted in 1964 and entered Census returns for 1964, 1965 (6 No.) and 1966 (3 No.).  This again suggests that the Crew at this time had members who were not counted elsewhere.  This renewal appears to be a part of a wider initiative. 

A District Senior Scouts Troop was also mentioned as starting in 1964.  Later recalled as ‘experimental and somewhat unofficial’ by one of its leaders (David Loades and Bob Eden both of the 5th) and was given the 20th Cambridge number.  In the Perse school archives a number 20th Cambridge name tags were found, a Group number not used since 1925.  This would suggest that the 20th was to be used for the Senior Scouts alongside the 30th for the Rovers.

It may be that the ‘30th Cambridge’ element to the District Rover Crew name was assumed or that the naming guidelines had changed and separate Rover Crew were no longer to be given Group numbers.

In 1967 The Rovers became Venture Scouts and the 30th Cambridge number has not been used since.

JWR Archivist Aug 2022