Cambridge Gang Shows

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Before Gang Shows   Scout Shows in Cambridge did not begin with ‘Gang Shows’.  Group shows started long before the first Ralph Reader Gang Show in 1932.  

From 1926 – 1939 the 23rd Rovers produced many shows and again in 1963 – 1969.

District shows of note were:

1930                The Town Rovers concert at the Guildhall raised money in aid of a pre National Health Service Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

1933 /34          A Scout variety week and in 1934 ‘The Censors Scissors’ was performed, again at the Guildhall.   These shows were not called ‘Gang Shows’.  The acts were taken from a week of shows put on by 18 Groups across Cambridge.  19 were originally listed but the election of that week was expected to cause problems.

1937    The first Cambridge Gang Show was in 1937 at Houghton Hall, Union Road Cambridge; the second in December 1938 at the Arts Theatre, Cambridge.

1957 54th Gang Show drew an audience from the 44th

1958 In 1958 and 1969 the 54th ran Gang Shows.

1963                The 4th Cambridge ran a Gang show in 1963 and the 23rd Cambridge (St Matthews) Scout Group ran group Gang Shows in 1963, ‘66, ‘67, ‘68, and ’69.  Thereafter they became District events. 

1963 – c. 1968 The 7th ran Gang Shows sometimes with High School (for Girls) Guides and Trumpington WI. These were taken to local

1971                The Gang Shows became a District event involving both Guides and Scouts. 

1975 was considered but did not go ahead, two members of the 1971 – 74 production team having resigned. 

In Granta (to be partially re-amalgamated with Cambridge in 2012) Sawston was producing Group Gang Shows in 1999 and 2000.


A Cambridge Gang Show scarf was discussed by the District in 1970.  ‘Cambridge Blue with Cambridge and Cambridgeshire badges and GS (for Gang show or Guides and Scouts)’.  The scarf below was the final version.  

It was used until the Gang Show scarf was awarded for the Jan 10 – 15 1977 shows. The words engraved below ‘Congratulations the Red Scarf is yours’ were read out on the last night of the show and the plaque attached to a case which house Gang Show Ted. That night, as recalled by Tony Claydon, Rob Farrington and Geoff Oliver, ended with celebrations for the adult team in the bar whilst the stage crew dismantled the set.

Gang Show Ted was made by Peggy Maskell and dressed by Margaret Claydon. He was presented to the gang at the evening when the red scarf was presented for the first time. He appeared in most gang photos from then on and was fixed to the front on the stage for all performances. He also has a band uniform. He currently lives with Tony Claydon.

Ralph Reader

‘In more recent years, with the National changes in age set up, the Venture Scouts and Rangers have regularly produced annual “Gang Shows” with considerable success; reaching the standard entitling them to wear the special scarf last year, and this year they even had a visit from Ralph Reader himself.’  (dated 1978).

Ralph Reader visited the 1978 show and again in 1980 and 1982. These repeated visits were a very significant sign of approval, as were the two involvements at ‘In the Spotlight’ in the Albert Hall and in the National Gang Shows for the 60th and 70th anniversaries in London and later the 80th anniversary in Birmingham. It was the last show Ralph Reader visited before his death.

Garth Morrison, Chief Scout also visited the show.


Scripts, cast lists, photo’s, letters exist in Cambridge District Archives for the years 1963 to 1984. 

National Gang Shows

Members of the cast also appeared in the 60th, 70th and 80th National anniversary Gang Shows (1992, 2002 and 2012)

‘Cast members from Cambridge Gang show performed in the Birmingham Hippodrome as part of the 80th anniversary gang show, two leaders and one other explorer. We first heard about the show from our producer in the wake of the hugely successful return of Cambridge gang show after eight years of absence’.  AR

(Matt Brown, Aylwin Racher)District archives

See also ‘Ralph Reader in Cambridge’

JWR Archivist Jan 2019