Baden Powell Cambridge 1911

Cambridge District Scout Archive

In 1911, three years after BP visited Cambridge and one year after the recognition of the Cambridge District Scout Association, the Chief was invited to a Rally.

1911       Sir Robert Baden-Powell inspected 500 Boy Scouts at a grand rally in Grange Road. The assembly was one of the most remarkable that has ever taken place in Cambridge, certainly nothing like it has ever been seen in the locality before. ‘B.P.’ has set in motion a mighty engine. Like an electric train it has gathered way with amazing swiftness and desolate is the place that has not heard the call of the Boy Scout engaged in an errand such seeking some lost child or succouring someone in danger or distress. 11 05 26b-e Mike Petty


1st CambridgeFirst Class Badge Work
2nd CambridgeUse of Scout staff
3rd Cambridge (St Andrew theGreat)Camping
5th (Perse)Cyclist work
6th (Higher Grade School)Photographers Badge
7th (Barnwell Abbey with 4th Roman Catholic)Pioneer Badge
8th All SaintsSignallers Badge work
9th Queen’s College ChoirCooks’ badge
10thMissioners’ Badge
13th (St Philip’s)P. T.
1st District (CherryHinton)Sanitation
3rd District Handymans’ Badge
5th District (Trumpington and Grantchester)Gymnastics
2nd WisbechMaster at Arms
SohamMorse Signalling and bandaging
1st Newmarket (All Saint’s)Firemans Badge and Fire Drill

Also present were

  • 11th Cambridge St Pauls
  • 2nd Cambridge District (1st Ely)
  • 7th Cambridge District (Sutton, Isle of Ely)

Troops also fromrlow and District Association

also Scouts from Cambs, Essex, Herts, Hunts, and Suffolk

1st Cambridge and Newton Girl Guides

The following, hitherto lost, photographs were located in the Cambridgeshire Collection and are printed as Post Cards, some with the name of A J Davis of Rose Crescent Cambridge. They are undated but what they show is clearly described in the contemporary reports below. They may be further dated by BPs apparent age, as compared to the 1917 Rally, and the lack of the presence of Rev C T Wood, DC and later CC from 1919, and ever present in Scouting events.

The photographs are shown in the order they have been catalogued and are presented as printed with Post Card borders retained.

Marker circles – all rushing in to the Chief
‘on the whistle, sat down as one man with staves upright’
Perse School flag on the right
Unknown flag
1st Cambridge Girl Guides in one of the clearly marked areas
Founded on 11th January 1911 this was their first public outing
First Aid work
Mission work
‘Carpentering’, with axes at the belt
Fire Brigade work

The following extracts are from Headquarters Gazette of June and July 1911. The full reports are copied below.

The Cambridge Scouts gave an exceedingly interesting and successful display on the occasion of my inspection of them on May 20th.

In the first place the arrangements had been carefully planned out in closest detail beforehand by District Scout Master Wright, so that everything ran like clockwork.

The Rally ground was marked out in a big circle and roped in, so that the onlookers were themselves in a circular rally around it.  Segments were marked out, and a troop with all its apparatus was allotted to each.

In one place a troop was acting an accident with application of first aid, in another a complete meal was being cooked at a camp kitchen; here was a troop of photographers snapping, developing and printing; the next was baking bread, another was building a transporter, a two-storied tower had been built in another segment for the display of fire brigade work and life saving, while alongside it field telegraph and signaling were being carried on; camp furniture, carpentering, fretwork, hut building, mattress making, physical training, tent pitching, boxing, map making were also to be seen; what attracted most attention was a set of missions at work with a bed ridden patient who, by the way, had the best time of anybody there, for when he wasn’t being fed with junket or soup, he was having his hair brushed, or the Scout was being read aloud to him.

The circular rally itself was worked up into a very effective display.  After running in and cheering, the whole ‘turned right’ and moved around singing a Scout’s marching chorus.  Then they halted, sang the Ingonyama chorus, and, on the whistle, sat down as one man with staves upright; on the second whistle they dropped their staves and whistles flat and sat silent.

It was all smartly and effectively done and created a great impression on the public, being so entirely unlike the military parades of boy’s corps to which they had been accustomed. Baden Powell    Headquarters Gazette June 1911

A fuller report on the event was re-published in Headquarters Gazette  in July 1911 being taken from the Cambridge Weekly News. Not all the Troops participating are listed nor those attending. The 9th Cambridge, quoted above, are not in the report below, that acknowledges this lack.

On the circle and organised display the Chief is reported as saying ‘He would rather see that sort of work than see any amount of marching past or playing at soldiers, because what they did was useful work, and it was a great pleasure to him to see them doing it and doing it so well’.

The Marching Chorus was to the tune of ‘Oh I do like to be beside the Seaside’ (a popular British Music Hall song written in 1907 and known to most in Britain today)

June 1911 BP report
July 1911 Follow up report

District Scout Master Wright was killed shortly after this triumph. See: Individuals, R Wright.

JWR Archivist Mar 2019