Abington Renewal 1976 – 1990

Cambridge District Scout Archive

In 1975 the facilities at Abington were worn and dated.   The wooden hut was based on the original (second hand) donation of the 1930’s.

In 1971 the Minutes of the District Cub Leaders Meeting had ‘appealed for better toilet facilities at Abington ….Quite inadequate for larger numbers’.

The County Commissioner, Lt Col Mainwaring, issued an appeal for funds in the letter below addressed to Scouts, Parents of Scouts, Old Scouts and all Friends of Scouting.  It is not known specifically who fell into these last two categories.

The artist’s impression is a fair representation of the constructed buildings, although the actual window layout is different.  The photograph is from 2010 before the later renovation of the buildings by the new owners.

Neither the artist’s interpretation nor the photograph show the accumulation of buildings and sheds around the edges of the core buildings. The original plan is below.

Proposed buildings

The architects plan, above, differs from the final layout as known post 2000. The toilet block was changed and the kitchen missing from this layout. However, the essential core shape and size remained unaltered.

Detail of note

Cambridge Archive

1976    On the occasion of the Chief Scout visiting Abington the District occupied the campsite and the adjacent playing field.  20/6/1976

1976    (The Chief Scout) ‘Spent a weekend here (in June), the Sunday Morning with scouts camped at Longstowe and in the afternoon going on to Abington Campsite to open the new buildings and improvements’                     70 years of scouting Ken North   County Scout camp

1979    (As) ‘the County Executive only met twice a year he suggested that Abington might be entrusted to Cambridge District to administer.  The Chairman pointed out that the Abington Committee could deal with the matter if it was functional.’    District minutes

(From context ‘functional’ here refers to practical matters with running the campsite rather than decisions about its future.   It was not suggesting that the committee was not functioning.)

1979 Diary of bookings

92 bookings are listed in the diary for 1979.  Lacking full records it is not clear that this year is representative of camping around this time.

Some are illegible or just the names of the leaders known to John Chambers, camp warden.  Some local groups used the campsite frequently others just the once.  Camps were by pack, patrol, Patrol leader events or transient Venture scouts for a night.

The identifiable campers were:

  • Cambridge      1st, 4th, 6/17th, 13th, 16th, 18th, 26th, 28th, 29th, 32nd, 50th, 54th, 57th  
  • Sawston, Newmarket, Saffron Walden, Histon, Barrington, Willesden, Whittlesford, Banbury, Royston, N Walsingham, Abington, Melbourn, Lewes, Edgware, Stretford, Bedford Groups, Harslton,  Bishop Stortford, Wisbech, Trumpington,  The Mordens, CUSAGC, Mattishall Norfolk, Rayleigh Essex, Bedford
  • German Scouts for two weeks
  • Guides             Impington, Linton, 17th Brownies, Guide evening, Abington
  • Districts           Granta CS training, S training, Craftshill, Lewes, East Cambs. Scout Fellowship, District Camps
  • County             Incident hike
  • Schools            Clavey, Whittlesford, Rees Thomas School, Linton Village College

The cost was 5p/head/night and £7 for hire of the buildings in 1979; by 1986 prices were 25p a night and £10 for hire of the kitchen for the weekend.

On 15th June 1981, the original trustees all having died, new trustees were appointed: Lt Col. Harry Mainwaring, John Chambers, Geoffrey Datson, and Edgar Dazey. On 19th November 1997, the trustees appointed the Scout Association Trust Corporation to succeed them in the trusteeship.

1984 County debates on the site identified ‘many issues’. It was not intended to close the site and the request was for an objective discussion.


1990    The suitability of Abington as a County Campsite was reviewed at the amalgamation of Cambridgeshire West and East in 1990. Abington was at the southern margins of the old Scout County, but close to the largest population centre.  The addition of West Cambridgeshire, the old County of Huntingdonshire and the Soke of Peterborough, to East Cambridgeshire shifted the population centre of the County a long way north and west.  The site was no longer big enough to hold County events.

Consideration was given to the sale of Abington and purchasing something closer to the centre of Cambridgeshire.  It was reported that County paid for an assessment with a view to gaining planning permission for the site. It was many years before the sale was carried through without planning permission.

JWR Archivist May 2019