7th Cambridge: County School 1915 – 1950

Cambridge District Scout Archive

The following is taken from the Old Cantabrigian Society and adds a layer of information concerning the foundation in 1915 not held in other records. Founded in 1915 in the middle of the Great War it is not surprising that the records are awry. It is possible that they were not formally part of the District at this time or that they date of 1919 (below) suggests a change in registration details.



Early “scribes” of the School Scout Group had little consideration for the future historian and precise information of their activities is rather scanty. The Troop was founded in May, 1915, by Mr. H. E. F. Pracey (Christ’s), the first patrols were the Lions and the Peewits and the scarf colours were yellow and purple.

 Prominent among the founder members were A. W. Burrell, H. J. Ladds, W. C. Mansfield and L. E. Tavener. Their programme was influenced by war conditions—the Scouts acted as orderlies at Addenbrooke’s and 1st Eastern General Hospitals, helped with potato, fruit and flax picking and took part in O.T.C. Field Days.

Badge work was not neglected, however ; meetings were held in form rooms after school and outdoor tests were passed on Saturdays on the Roman Road and the Gogs. The Troop soon began to suffer from the war-time shortage of Scouters and, after the departure of Mr. Pracey, of Mr. H. Collingham (Queens’) and of Mr. A. X. Phillips (Queens’), the Troop was taken over from 1917 to 1919 by the Rev. C. T. Wood, S.M. of the 9th, and later County Commissioner, who has continued to be a good friend of the Group.

 In 1919, Mr. P. D. Power, now an I.H.Q. Commissioner, became S.M. He was succeeded by Mr. A. J. Betts and Mr. H. G. Goldsmith (Jesus) with Mr. R. Butler (Trinity) assisting.

From 1922 to 1925, the Troop had the advantage of the continuous leadership of Mr. B. Armstrong (St. John’s) assisted by Mr. D. P. Kennedy (Trinity) and Dr. T. M. Cherry. During this period, the Troop settled down after the difficulties of wartime, numbers rose to over 40, camping and other activities increased ; A. Maw, E. J. Saunders, E. G. Collins, C. Hersey, G. F. Abbs, M. Gilbart-Smith, L. D. Roper and S. A. V. Roper were leading members. In 1925, Dr. T. M. Cherry, assisted by Mr. R. G. Martin and Mr. A. H. Marks, took over from Mr. Armstrong who was elected Hon. S.M. and continued to assist when his duties permitted.

 In 1926, Mr. J. S. Bousfield became the first member of the School Staff to take out a warrant with the Troop and he, Mr. G. R. Gedye, Mr. P. G. Handford and Mr. H. J. Paine were A.S.M.’s to Dr. Cherry until 1928 when Mr. Bousfield became S.M. A. M. Barrett became T.L. in 1927 and was succeeded by E. J. Roper and C. J. North.

 In 1928, A. M. Barrett had the distinction of being the first Old Boy to become an A.S.M. in the Troop. In this year, Mr. H. A. Cartledge and Mr. C. H. R. Grimes (Christ’s) also became A.S.M.’s and, in 1929, Mr. Cartlege became the second master to be appointed S.M., with Mr. W. Taylor-Young (Trinity), Mr. C. W. Lewis (Christ’s) and Mr. T. E. M. Barber as A.S.M.’s and W. M. Points as T.L. In 1931, Mr. Lewis became S.M. Two new members of the Staff, Mr. G. H. Stapleton and Mr. W. J. Lowey, the previous year’s T.L., W. M. Points, and Mr. R. Leader became A.S.M.’s, and K. A. Barrett and H. A. S. Hayling successively T.L.’s.

 In 1934, Mr. Lewis was succeeded by Mr. Stapleton who remained as S.M. until 1938. During this time, Mr. J. W. Jenkins (Christ’s), Mr. J. E. Boxley (Christ’s) and two members of the Staff, Mr. A. B. Swallow and Mr. E. A. Yonatt became A.S.M.’s and D. C. P. Shoote, H. G. Edwards and R. Randall were T.L.’s. When Mr. Stapleton left Cambridge, Mr. Lowey became S.M. with Mr. D. Durrant, Mr. G. F. Farnworth (Selwyn) and three old members of the Troop, H. G. Edwards, D. W. Steard and R. Randall as A.S.M.’s. During Mr. Lowey’s absence on military service, Mr. Farnworth carried on as S.M. for a year. Thereafter T.L.’s and Senior P.L.’s, C. P. Brand, K. E. Snelson, D. E. Varley, J. M. Gwynn, J. M. Varley, P. D. Snelson, 1. S. Burling and R. S. King, successfully ran the Troop through what was probably it’s most difficult period.

Despite black-out, rationing and other restrictions and frequent change of Scouters, the Troop maintained a high degree of efficiency and increased its patrol camping and other activities, as well as collecting paper, jam-jars, hips and conkers, delivering pamphlets, running messages for the W.V.S., erecting Morrison shelters, acting as casualties at A.R.P. exercises, running a band and giving performances of a special 7th Cambridge brand of pantomime. In these tasks, the Seniors carried a heavy burden with a large measure of success but they were most grateful to Mr. T. P. R. Layng who came to camp with them and generally acted in a fatherly capacity. Luckily, the tradition of the Troop providing its own Scouters outlived the war and several old members returned as A.S.M.’s when they had completed their National Service. K. E. Snelson, R. Randall, P. D. Snelson, D. E. Varley and D. V. Jude held warrants until they were again called away from Cambridge, and C. P. Brand, D. O. Hopkins. I. S. Burling, D. G. Brewer, F. J. N. Woolfenden and two post-war T.L.’s, C. S. G. Selmes and T. H. Brewer now hold warrants in the Group. Mr. A. J. Pickett also helped with the Troop, until his duties with the Naval Section left him little time.

The other post-war T.L.’s have been N. G. Tuck, A. J. Prior and D. P. J. Guiver. The 7th is proud of its camping tradition and 1940 is the only year since 1917 when a Summer Camp has not been held. The first camp of which information has been obtained was one held in Grantchester Meadows, organised by a New Zealander stationed in Cambridge, who is remembered as ” Toe.”

Troop camps have been held at Runton (1918, 1919, 1920), Ingoldmells Point (1921), Corton (1922), Robin Hood’s Bay (1923), East Lulworth (1924, 1927), Winterton (1925), East Quantoxhead (1926), Sidestrand (1928, 1934), Beeston (1929), Flamborough (1930), Borth (1931), Sidmouth (1932), Llanhamlach (1933), Southwold (1935). Branscombe (1936), Hunstanton Hall (1937, 1939), Stainforth (1938), Holywell (1941), Icklingham (1942), Houghton (1943), Hemingford (1944, 1945), Northrepps (1946, 1947), Chelmondiston (1948) and Northrepps (1949).

In 1923 and 1924, P.L.’s held sailing “camps” on the Broads, and from 1925 to 1933, Easter Camps for P.L.’s and Seconds were held at Waresley Park, Rosthwaite, E. Halstead, Wolferton, Ampthill and E. Hatfield. From 1934 to 1940, Whitsuntide training camps for the whole Troop were held at Croxton and Longstowe. Since 1940, there has grown up a tradition of Easter patrol camps within cycling distance of Cambridge and since 1946, the Seniors have had strenuous walking tours at Easter, twice in N. Wales and twice in the Lake District. The Group has taken quite a prominent part in Local Association rallies, concerts, Scouts’ Own and competitions.

 In 1917, it is recorded, General Baden-Powell, the Founder, took a keen interest in the Troop naturalist display at a local rally in 1920, held in King’s College paddock and attended by the Prince of Wales and taking the form of a “Stourbridge Fair,” the Troop was responsible for staging a fortune teller’s booth and a display of weaving; in 1925, the Troop staged a spectacular fire-fighting display at a rally attended by Sir Alfred Pickford; in 1934, the Troop provided a guard of honour for Prince George when he visited Cambridge; the Kingfishers gained distinction for their good camping in the 1936 rally at Ely ; the Troop took part in the 1946 rally attended by the present Chief Scout, Lord Rowallan, and, in 1948, gave a successful tumbling display at the 40th Anniversary Rally.

In competitions, the 7th have been a force to be reckoned with, gaining the Boxing Competition in 1925 and 1939, the Stratton Ambulance Competition in 1938, the Athletics Shield in 1932 and 1935, the Morley Trophy in 1938, 1939, 1944, 1948 and 1949, the Hele Trophy in 1938, and the Swimming Shield twelve times between 1930 and 1943. Several attempts have been made, notably in 1925 and 1931, to start a Rover Crew, but the rapidity with which members had to leave Cambridge disrupted these efforts. The Troop has, however, grown into a Group, composed of a Senior Troop of Scouts over 15 and a Junior Troop, each with its own Scouters and separate parades. The new Senior Troop set off at a keen pace and, in 1949, seven of its members were invested as King’s Scouts by the Chief Scout and took part in the St. George’s Day march past Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor. Two other post-war growths of the Group have been the Parents’ Committee under the chairmanship of Mr. F. Winfield and the 7th Cambridge Branch of the B.P. Guild of Old Scouts with the Headmaster as President, E. J. Saunders as Chairman, S. A. V. Roper as Secretary and T. F. Langley as Treasurer. Though the Group is now numerically stronger than it has ever been and though its many activities are pursued with keenness, a perusal of the Log Books, which have been kept continuously since 1922, suggests that each period of the Group’s existence has something of special value to hand on to later ones. The Group is proud of its tradition and not only has it learned lessons from the past but it is now beginning to receive the sons of its own Old Scouts. The Group is not complacent and will do its best to ensure that some aspect of its work will be envied by its future historians when the School centenary or its own centenary record comes to be written.

With full acknowledgement and thanks to the Old Cantabrigian Society for this work

JWR Archivist Sept 2020