Abington: Foundation 1930 – 1932

Cambridge District Scout Archive

These are the entries in the Cambridge District Minutes concerning the original purchase of the camp site at Little Abington. 

Whilst District Minutes do not provide the clearest information a number of definitive statements make clear the ownership and delegated responsibilities concerning the site: the District Minute entries of 30/10/1931 and 27/5/1932, and the letter of 20/2/1932 at the bottom of the page.                             Quotes in italics.

The search for a camp site originated with Cambridgeshire County Scout Council, the first proposed location being south of Newmarket near the Suffolk border.

Cambridge District provided the bulk of the Trustees for Abington and was entrusted by the County Scout Council with the responsibility for the management of the site.

Cambridge District was and is a significant part of the Scout County.   It was appropriate to ask Cambridge District, as they were on 11/12/31, if they are in favour of the enterprise which would require support from the entire county but wherever it is sited would need backing of the town to prosper.

The sub-committee formed by the District when the campsite at Little Abington became available is not the same as the Trustees appointed later.  It reads as if the sub-committee was formed to consider the site on behalf of the District and to decide on behalf of the District whether to support this site proposed by County.

The site extends over the field on which the word Vicarage sits. It reaches uphill from the River Garnta north towards the road from Little Abington to St Mary’s church.

Map (updated ) 1946

Although not stated it was understood by the contemporary readers that Mr. C T Wood was County Commissioner Rev. Wood had previously been DC of Cambridge and was the driving force behind the 9th Cambridge and scouts in the University Settlements in London.  He was chief financier of the site.  His suggestions concerning the Trustees and later proposals to fund the camps for poor scouts from London on the site were given all the weight appropriate to these roles.

Three of the four other trustees named are shown by their scouting records to be very solid picks for anyone’s project.  W Eaden Lilley was a major Cambridge businessman, Mr. Woodgate of Wisbech is not known from Cambridge records.  Clearly Cambridge District is well represented in this group; it is the District in which the site sat and numerically largest in the County and the point from which most practical support was likely to be obtained and most frequent use gained.

District Minutes 28th November 1930 to 20th September 1932

Before Abington

1929                Before the camp site was opened the 26th Wolf Cubs, among others, reported camping at Abington on a site lent by Miss Mortlock.

30/10/1931     ‘The DC reported upon a scheme for establishing a Camping Site at West Harling, which was engaging the attention of the Cambridgeshire County Scout Council.’                 District Minutes  

12/11/1931     The DC reported that a meeting of Commissioners of Cambridgeshire had decided not to proceed with a scheme for a campsite at West Harling.  The DC invited suggestions for a site for erecting of the hut at Upend.   District Minutes  

11/12/1931     DC asked and it was ‘generally agreed that the establishment of a camp site and hut at, say Babraham, would be appreciated and most useful.’

Abington Proposed

29th Jan 1932   Proposed permanent Campsite                                                          page 152

‘The DC read a letter from the County Commissioner Mr C T Wood, giving particulars of the proposed site at Little Abington.  The piece of land was about two acres, but it was hoped to get a further ½ acre to include a portion of the river bank.  The cost was to be 100 of which Mr Wood had kindly offered to donate 50.  It was thought that a further 60 could be raised by selling the hut at Upend.  It would cost 50 to move the hut on to the proposed site.  The rates on the land would be about 3. It would cost an additional sum of about 50 to sink a well, fence the property in and make the river fit for bathing.’

‘The Secretary proposed, Mr Nunn seconded that and it was carried that:-

The executive committee are very favourably disposed to the scheme provided that it includes the river frontage with facilities for bathing and that the decision be left to a sub committee composed of the DC, Messers MacFarlane Grieve and Richards with power to co-opt. ‘

            See also CC Rev Wood appeal for funds below.

26/2/1932                   ‘The DC reported that progress  was being made in the scheme:  that Mr C T Woods generous offer of ₤50 was now increased to ₤100; that the Upend Hut would be moved and that the sub-committee would be issuing a general appeal for the balance of the sum required, ₤70 to ₤80.’

Hut at Upend

19/3/1932                   Special Meeting for the purpose of appointing Trustees for the Camping Ground at Little Abington and any business relating thereto.              Page 166

3.         The DC made a short statement with regard to the nomination of trustees and read a list of proposed names.  He explained that it was the wish of the donor of the site the Rev C T Wood that these persons should serve, but that the Meeting was at liberty to propose other names.

4.         The DC proposed the Secretary seconded and it carried: That the following be elected Trustees of the Camping Site at Abington: Rev C T Wood County Commissioner, H R Mallett, G M MacFarlane Grieve, G Woodgate (of Wisbech), F T Feary (Fred), Walter Eaden Lilley.

5.         It was agreed that the question of the Management of the site and the foundation of any sub committees be left to the Executive Committee.

Thanks:            Mr. TG Room proposed, the secretary seconded and it was carried: That a very hearty vote of thanks be given to the Rev C T Wood for presenting the site, to Mr W R Richards for a generous offer to pay half the cost of the well, and to Mrs. Morris for presenting the hut.

1/4/1932                     Details of development of site, lining of the hut and sinking of the well.    

  • Mr. A V Valentine Richards’s Fund:    ₤50
  • Mr. R P Richards gift                          ₤17/10 (half the cost of sinking the well)

Mr Wood kindly offered to loan the balance to the association if necessary, until the amount could be raised by appeal or otherwise.  

The possibility of using Association Deposit a/c as a loan for the purpose was also considered.

Committee of Management: A committee of Management for the camping site was elected, as follows: Messer’s, T G Room, C T Wood, R P Richards & E H Lewis.                  

29/4/1932                   Details of the management of the site were through Cambridge District.  It was agreed that details of camping were managed through the Camp Warden.

27/5/1932                   3          The DC stated the position of the a/c as a sub a/c of the Association a/c, with the Association having the final responsibility; having been entrusted by the County Scout Council with the management of the site.  It was agreed that the Committee of Management as appointed by the Executive should have power to incur expenses within the limits of their available funds. 1932 AGM       ‘The Association has been entrusted to run Abington by Cambridgeshire.

JWR Archivist Jan 2019

  • On 14th April 1932, Alexander Spencer, the previous owner of part of the site, sold it to the trustees named above for one hundred pounds. Charlie Wood paid for this out of his own pocket. The sale was of 2 acres, 2 roods, and 15 perches. (This is about 2.6 acres, or just over 1 hectare.)
  • On 4th June 1932 the site was officially opened.
  • 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.