Abington Development: 1932 – 1975

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Cambridge Scouts regularly camped at Upend from where the hut was transferred to Abington.  The hut had been previously used for supporting the unemployed and often used by Cambridge Scouts.  It appears to have been given to the District before Abington was purchased, consideration being given by the District Executive to selling it rather than moving it to Abington. The move was funded by Mrs North who may have also been the original donor.  The brick chimney stack is not evident on early pictures from Abington.

The Scouter of May 1938 listed permanent Scout campsites –

Cambridgeshire1 Abington
Norfolk2 both near Norwich
Northamptonshire1 Northampton

Cambridge Archive

1932                ‘The site will not be ready for ordinary camping for a month or two yet.’ GG&AA  21/3/1932 

Original rules for camping signed County Commissioner C T Wood

1932                Rules amended           No 6 ‘encouraged’ not ‘expected’.  Rule on hats upheld.

1932                Morley Trophy held at Abington. Cubs held a Day in the Jungle on the 24th September, Rovers held a successful camp over the 24th and 25th September.

1933                ₤30 from Lady North                                                              District Minutes

2nd Cambridge May 1933

1933                ‘Day in the Jungle’ event

1933                Mention of Abington Museum

1933                Provisional permission for camp for unemployed men

1933                Sanitary arrangements in NE corner of site

1933                Erecting bicycle shed ₤3/3/10

1933                Dr Gourlay worked on decaying trees and planting hedges.  (DCM and plant collector)

1933/4             Agreed to hold two camps for the Unemployed        District Minutes

1934                Listed in all the HQ gazette list of County Training Grounds and Camp Sites until 1942 when they stopped.

c. 1934            County Gazette:  referred the ‘County camp site, Abington’  

1930’s Fred Feary GSM of the 23rd and ‘The warden’

A J Covell album, Cambridgeshire Collection

1935                White washing and Distempering the hut.  Lockers built

2nd Cambridge Inside the hut 1930’s

1935                Permission for unemployed camp

1935                official opening of Abington Bathing pool      GG&AA  1935 

Cambridgeshire Collection Box 41
Dammed River Granta

1938                CC Business (CC. Rev C T Wood) ‘brought a piece of land next to Abington Campsite…and has promised £10 per year on the condition that we invite a Troop from the slums of London to camp at Abington and pay their fares.                       Dist Minutes 17/6/1938

  • On 11th November 1938, Neville Alexander Pegg sold a further 3 acres and 20 perches (about 3.1 acres, or 1.3 hectares) which lay to the East of the original purchase. The trustees were the same as in 1932, with the exception of Mr Lilley, who had died in 1934.

(The Rev Wood was involved in his College based Missions in London many of which started Scout Groups.)

1938 13th Cambridge cycled to Abington to pick a new troop site. This idea of a permanent site was later stopped and a semi permanent shelter was built at Hatley Wilds. This was destroyed by bullocks between visits.

Abington 1939 From A J Covell Album, Cambridgeshire Collection

1939 80 Cubs are reported as attending the official opening of the bigger site in 4th June 1939. Mrs. Vera Henrietta Morriss was Managing Director of the Banstead Manor stud.

1939 Roger Bond (7th?) recalled camping the weekend of the 2nd and 3rd of September 1939 at
Abington. On Sunday the 3rd he and his fellow scouts were called into the hut just after 11 to listen to the broadcast by Neville Chamberlain. This was related at third hand – a family story that was worth telling.

1940                Hut to be used by YMCA for HM Forces (but later) Troops moved out of Abington area and already had a canteen in the village.

            7/40                 Mr Wilson reported on tents not properly camouflaged at Abington

            8/40                 Hut being used by Military Police

1941                Offer of stove for Scouters room by Mr Mackrow

                        Day in the Jungle


1942                Listed as open for camping when many other campsites had closed or requisitioned.                                                                                                    The Scouter

1942/42 7th Cambridge patrol log recorded that Abington had ‘sites’ and they chose ‘No.5’.

The Pool c 1949

1943                From the records retained by WTT District Secretary.

1945                11th would obtain a load of wood for Abington.  District would pay carriage. 

1947                Following an occasion when scouts camped at Abington on the day of the Cub Totem trophy the District discussed allocation of Cubs only site at Abington with ‘Jungleland’ and camp site.  Not possible but Cambridgeshire Scout Council to be asked for a site near Cambridge

12th Cambridge

1948                Water to be laid on cost £50.  Location of well unknown.

1950’s              A GSG notice concerning climbing of trees at Abington…many not fit to be climbed, Scouters must take precautions or ban climbing.

John Chambers collection 1951

Tony Claydon (2020) recalls the pool in use by Scouts and Cubs, and used for pioneering projects. ‘To fill the pool the local water company had to be informed . It was mainly filled during the night. It was drained when it became no longer feasible to maintain it due to heath reasons.’ The Lady Cub Master is possibly Rose Coston of the 13th (Silver Wolf). John Chambers was of the 13th. Mark Claydon (2020) added that the container was originally an emergency water supply for the fire service for Duxford. The pool was 30′ in diameter and 3’6” deep, presumably when full.

60th Cambridge report

Elsewhere another notice records damage done to small trees on the site

1956                Skyblue records a CUSAGC weekend work party in December creosoting the hut, clearing the fences and enjoying a mid- night hike.

1962 Mr Hood was recorded as running the site – this was taken on my Mackrow around this time. Mrs Cutter was still involved in holding the keys etc and very grateful for the increased honourarium she received for this, enabling her to buy in fuel for the winter.

1964 County AGMs carried a report from Abington. Between March and September 1964 it recorded 695 camping nights and 963 boy days were recorded.

1965                E  H Lewis died  1st Honourary Warden of the site

1966                Reports of Vandalism

1970/71 0.08 acres of land purchased as car park for £100 after it was removed from building land designation.

1971                ‘appealed for better toilet facilities at Abington….quite inadequate for larger numbers.’  Cub Leaders Minutes

1971                ‘It was agreed a request be made to the County Secretary that the site be left off the list of camp sites because of the increasing use by District and County.’                                                                                                                                     District Minutes

1972                It was proposed by District that as a Memorial to Howard Mallett a building be erected at Abington. ‘The Chairman pointed out that Abington was the responsibility of the County.’  ‘There was considerable discussion about this.’                  District Minutes

1973 Mrs. Henrietta Cutter died aged 86. She had been involved since the foundation, her husband being the original Verderer and on his death she took on the role.

1989 Fay Abrahams died, as reported in teh Cambridge North Chronicle and received a Gilwell Memorial Service. She had been a London based Scout Leader and part of the Abington Service Team. It was possibly Fay that brought two troops to camp each summer, the first from a wealthy group with all the gear, the second the following week from an impoverished group who moved into the tents provided by the first.

1974/5 An appeal, planned by the County Team since 1972, was launched for funds to replace original buildings.

JWR Archivist Jan 2019