32nd Cambridge: Outline History

Cambridge District Scout Archive

  • Waterbeach
  • 32nd Cambridge (Waterbeach)                      1928 – 1934                7450
  • Waterbeach                                                   1934 – 1935
  • 1941
  • 32nd Cambridge (Waterbeach)                      1950 – 1952                28228
  • 32nd Cambridge (Waterbeach)                      1954/5 – 19                31755
  • 32nd Cambridge (Waterbeach)                      1966 – date                37901


A reference to a Waterbeach troop in November 1923 merely records ‘not yet registered’.  It does not appear to have lasted or been accepted into the District.    If it had prospered it would have gained a ‘Cambridge District’ number; that is outside the town boundaries. No evidence exists for this, nor do any obvious gaps in the numbering system to suggest an oversight.


32nd Cambridge (Waterbeach)                      1928 – 1934                7450

The group was founded at the start of the Group system on 6th December 1928.  On opening it recorded 3 leaders and 12 Scouts.  Despite being based at the Rectory and lead by the Rector it was an Open group.

  • SM Oakley Gordon Bolton      Rectory
  • ASM Horace Bull                     Waterbeach    aged 18
  • ASM Richard Burling

The Group recorded census returns for two years before moving to the new North Cambridgeshire District, one of four started at the division of the very large Cambridge District. 

  • Scouts  1929 – 1933
  • Cubs    1931 – 1933

Waterbeach                                                   1934 – 1934

The Group dropped the 32nd Cambridge element of its name when it moved to North Cambridgeshire.  This was in line with all the Groups in the new District.  The IHQ number is unlikely to have changed at re registration.  The records for this district have not come down to Cambridge archives; however, the group is recorded as closed by 2nd November 1934.

North District was quickly renamed East Cambridgeshire then Mid Cambridgeshire. Waterbeach did not make it to the first change of name in 1935.   This District struggled during WW2 and was re absorbed into Cambridge District.  If a new Waterbeach group had been formed in the years outside Cambridge District it did not survive to be one of those groups.



A single census entry in Cambridge District records in 1941 is unexplained.  The Group was not part of Cambridge District at that time.   No Group was registered.


32nd Cambridge (Waterbeach)                      1950 – 1952                28228

The new Group was registered on 12th May 1950, it was Open.

  • GSM    Walter William John Le Count            Ft Lt
  • CM      Miss Betty Scott                                  (Senior Guide) aged 19
  • SM       Robert Maxton                                    RAF Station

They recorded 16 Cubs and 18 Scouts, suggesting a considerable interest or pre-existing but as yet unregistered group.  Later in a list c.1950 the Scouter in charge was listed as E Lord.  This may refer to a later 32nd.

The group gave census returns for one year only.  The Rover or Rovers were probably helpers, possibly from the university, although Waterbeach s a little far out for student support, or from within the RAF.  The scarf was sky blue with a Royal blue border.

  • Scouts              1951
  • Cubs                1951
  • Rovers                         1951

Rovers are noted as suspended in 1952, which suggests more than one.  The 1953 District AGM noted the group was closed.  Nothing else is recorded for this group.


32nd Cambridge (Waterbeach)                      1954/5 – 1966                        31755

This group appears to have an unbroken history with the current group.

This iteration of the group has an unclear history.  District asked confirmation of the proposed number (33rd) in 1954.  It was registered 21st January 1955 with the IHQ number 31755 as a controlled group with the sponsor RAF Waterbeach.  They met between the RAF Gym and the Old COE School.  The scarf was Scout green until 1965/66.

In the 1960’s a significant number of Scouts were attending from the RAF base – a peripatetic catchment.  Bob Benton recalls four (Land) Scouts, 26 Sea Scouts and one Air Scout at one point.  The troop did not register the Air Scout or Sea Scouts for the 32nd; the question was no longer asked after 1966.

  • Cubs                1955 – 1972    (end of census returns in archives)
  • Scouts              1955 – 1972    (end of census returns in archives)


32nd Cambridge (Waterbeach)                      1966/67 – date                       37901

The re registration occurred 11th April 1967 following the group being temporarily ‘struck off’ in 1966.  It had neither replied to Census questions nor paid capitation fees.  The RAF left the base in 1966 and the RE moved in.  The break in continuity between RAF and Army as well as a change in sponsor may have occasioned the re-registration.  There was no break in census returns.

The new registration lists the group as Controlled, as before, but now by Royal Engineers Waterbeach.  The Army had diminishing involvement in the village over time and eventually moved out in 2012.

In 1973, the 32nd Cambridge (Waterbeach) built a Group headquarters on what was MoD land.  This hut replaced the previous meeting places of the school and the MoD gymnasium, the joint use of which reflected the military / civilian composition of the group, in intent if not in practice.   It was extended in the 1980’s.

The GSL for many years was Flt. Lt. Hugh Vernon who was unusually posted for a protracted period to the base.  He facilitated the allotment of the land returned to open the new hut in 1973.

An unauthorised scarf alteration from Green occurred in 1966, from Green to Royal blue and Maroon halves.   This is Royal Engineers’ colour flash and as such the first reference as Light blue is probably just wrong at the time.

  • Green
  • Light Blue and Maroon                       c.1966
  • Royal blue and Maroon halves           1966    4th April 1966
  • Maroon and Gold (oddly)                  1975   
  • Royal Blue and Maroon halves           2002
  • Burgundy and Blue halves                  2020

After the event the colours were questioned – another group in the District had similar colours.  However, having an edge stripe not halved, no clash was identified, the change remained.

In 1966 a Venture Scout Unit was opened under C J Allen, number 37901.  They only returned census figures for the VSU were 1973 – 1975.


  • Bill Moon                    1988 – date                            
  • Bob Benton                 1963 – date                             SA bar 2004
  • Kim Benton                 1991 – date
  • Shirley Hayhoe            1988 – date     

JWR Archivist  Jan 2023