6th Cambridge: Higher Grade School: Mayor of Cambridge’s Own

Cambridge District Scout Archive

In November 1915 it is noted that the Worshipful Mayor (of Cambridge) elect ‘has given the Higher Grade School Troop permission to bear the above title during his year in office.’ This title existed before this date and after – possibly becoming fixed. Further reference is made to the activities of the 6th in August 1916, also in the ‘Scout News’ column of the Cambridge Journal.

The Troop met on Saturday morning for wide games, often at Cherry Hinton chalk pit. By 1910 could muster a choir and camped at Houghton, had a cricket team and a band. They paraded at the ‘Cutting of the First Sod’ of the new school at Parkside in 1912 and later that year accompanied the hearse at the funeral of the headmaster.

Rosemary Gardiner, in ‘An Epoch making school’, records S M Copplestone as being the driving force of the Troop with the aid of Gordon Nelder (died WW1). Mr Pepper and Dunkerley are also named as SMs, alongside ASM Deane. In 1914 the troop had 45 Scouts. The activities of the scouts are not often mentioned in the School Log Book (a school not a Troop record). They were trusted to present a display of signaling at the Prize Day and given a half day to mount a Guard of Honour at the funeral of the Master of Downing, the Cambridge DC, in June 1915. A 122 Scouts attended, a significant proportion of the school. They were under the command of Mr. (Cyril Peter) Le Huray.

At the start of the war the troop activities intensified many scouts winning their National Service awards, some by acting as orderlies at the First Eastern Hospital situated where the University Library now stands. They are also recorded as practising with Martini rifles at the Old Spring range, probably as part of the Scout Defence Corps which W Copplestone helped found. John Murrish was temperarily employed at the school on two occasions, the first between May and July 1915 and twice in 1920 before taking up a post in Birmingham in April 1921.

(See People/ Individuals/ Scouters)

When William Robert John Copplestone left the school soon after war was declared ‘the Scout Troop did not long survive’. He was active in Cambridge as one of the founders of the local Scout Defense Corps. He did not return to the school after the war.

From Reveille, a single issue magazine of 1920 6th (Higher Grade). The Troop seems to be low in numbers, but high in intensity. Kostitch has unfortunately gone to live in London, where he is studying at the Commercial College: we shall miss his fierce guttural cries on Field-days. We shall also miss Watts’s gentle smile. Elliot and Austin are racing neck-and-neck for the Gold All-round cord: do they
still do sentry-go in camp for peppering people’s pillows? They have plenty of chance, for the Troop holds almost a record for the number of its Camps last summer. The Patrols ought, perhaps, to revise elementary work oftener than they do; but the Troop wins a prodigious number of Badges

‘Mr Martin tried to revive its flagging fortune but the Scouts didn’t revive.’ No date is given for this second opening, from context probably 1919 – 1923. The Troop was involved in the Scout Concert at the Guildhall in 1919 and similarly half days were given for ‘Scout Sports’ and again for ‘Wolf Cub and Juvenile organisations display’ in July of 1919.

With the raising of the school entrance age to 11 in 1919 Mr Martin found that new boys were already members of other troops and recruiting was difficult. He closed down the troop. District wide debates on membership of school troops is recorded in the archives.

Reference is made in ‘Travellers on the trail’ column in Cambridge Journal 3/5/22, of an attempt to restart the troop. The author of the column had been the SM of the 6th for a time before stepping out of a leadership role around the date of the March 1922 closure.

The school was encouraged by its Board of Governors who provided a great deal of camping equipment in 1919. The school camped, initailly for weekends later only annual camps are recorded. These were not Scout camps but run by the Headmaster. Several active Scout Masters from the District visited; CT Wood (DC) and Valentine Richards in particular. They had other reasons for discussing or inspecting the school but the state of the school troop would have been a concern. Hubert Martin, the International Scout Commissioner from IHQ, visited in 1922 and addressed the school.

The 1925 list of Clubs in the school does not include a Scout Troop.


  • Local History/ Communication/ Our Scout Column
  • People/ Individuals/ Cambridge Scouters/ J Murrish)

JWR Archivist Oct 2020

Ref lost – please let me know JWR