Abington and the Guides

Cambridge District Scout Archive

From the Log Book of Myrtle Norris 1942 – 1944 a member of the 21st Cambridge Rangers we have details of several camps at Abington.  In 1942 when she was 14 the Rangers camped six times between May and August, on each occasion at The Lodge, Abington – not Abington Scout campsite.  The Lodge sits in 14 acres directly opposite the cricket ground on the High Street.

Myrtle named the site ‘Dentonville’, not a name yet traced to the Lodge or part of the many buildings on the Grounds.  The Lodge was owned by Alice Mortlock, last of the banking family to live at the Lodge.

The Abington Scout Camp site rules as published in May 1943 stated that ‘The ground is reserved for the use of members of the Boy Scout Movement.’ and ‘Except on Sunday between 2 and 6pm ladies should not be allowed on the site except with Cub Packs which have obtained special permission from the Warden and notified the District Commissioner.’ It is not clear when this was codified but the rules on opening in 1932 stated ‘bathing costumes must be worn after 08.30’. 

It is not unlikely that The Lodge was an established Girl Guide site and possessed better facilities.  Like the Scout campsite it has the river flowing along one side and had a feature known as ‘the waterfall’.  The Guides also slept in ‘the Badminton’ and ate meals in the Harness room on one very wet weekend.  The toilet facilities are also likely to have been better.

The Rangers and Scouts/ Rovers did interact, the girls were invited to Scout camp events and fraternised in such impromptu events as cycling to Linton to buy chips.  It is on this occasion that they dallied on the way back (not explicitly with the Scouts) and ‘got into a row’ on getting in late.  Scouters examined the Guides whilst at camp (Mr Mackrow of the 12th on signalling).

The guide camps recorded had small numbers of campers and probably did not constitute any danger of formal straight rows, but it is not known if the tents were camouflaged as was required on the Boy Scouts site.  It is recorded that the bridge was bombed in 1940, but no known link is made to the Guides or Scout campsites.

The date at which Girls were allowed on the Scout site is unclear, but presumably at the latest from 1976 when Venture Scouts could take girls. The toilet facilities were upgraded by this date.

JWR Archivist Sept 2022