Cambridge University Scouting: Beginning

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Scouting within Cambridge University started in 1908, well ahead of the start of the Rover Scouts in 1918.  The Town was denuded of students between 1914 and 1919.  Scouting did not stop for these years but was picked up by medical students and conscientious objectors and others who remained at the University.  They stepped into supporting the Town Patrols. It was with the return of students, some with significant war time experience that a Rover Troop was initiated.

            See Structure/ University Scouting/ University Scout Masters 1909 – 1914

The University Scout Troop was initiated on 30th November 1920 by

  • Rev H F Kirkpatrick
  • A W Rigden
  • L R Missen
  • A Swallow
  • C L de Beaumont
  • N V Halward
  • T G Room
  • L C Soar
  • L E Room
  • T V G Tarter
  • D L Herbage
  • W J Stiff
  • T M Garaway

Initially to be called Cambridge University Rover Scout Troop it was nevertheless registered as

Cambridge Rover Troop (for the training of Scout Officers) 7778

This Troop was registered 21st December 1920. The registration document was first Cambridge University Rover Troop but the ‘University’ has been strongly, but not totally, lined through.  The additional ‘Training of Scout Officers’ was a requirement from District Commissioner (C T Wood, Dean of Queens’ at this date) and left the way clear for the formation of a Town Rover patrol.  

A latter archivist / secretary had labelled the registration documents CURT, but the document itself gives the title as Cambridge Rover Troop.  The Troop was ‘open’, but ‘confined to members of Cambridge University’.  Elsewhere a contemporaneous record has the Troop as having been planned, or considered to be for, both Town and Gown but the context of this observation is unclear.

At registration it listed four leaders and 12 Rovers.  The Troop log is quickly re-titled a Court of Honour log.   The troop appears to have grown to 67 Rovers by November 1921.  The four leaders are difficult to untangle as later changes were added to the original Form but we have

  • Captain Gidney           Hon ASM         (Camp Chief, Gilwell Park)    (Ex Camb)
  • R Lang                        Deputy Camp Chief                 Instructor
  • L R Missen MC           Deputy Camp Chief                 Instructor
  • T M Garaway             Deputy Camp Chief                 Instructor
  • N V Halward               Scribe              Troop Leader
  • HRP Boorman             SM

The registration does not bear a HQ stamp but dates are probably correct as later notes and amendments (some below) are dated Nov 1921 and Oct 1922

  • Oct 1922
    • N V Halward                Troop Leader
    • A Swallow                    Scribe
    • C L Beaumont             Treasurer
  • 192?
    • C L Beaumont             Troop Leader
    • A Swallow                    Scribe
    • ? P Kennedy                Treasurer
  • 1923 – 1924
    • B Armstrong                Troop Leader
    • MM Simmons             Treasurer

Captain Gidney of Gilwell accepted the roll of Hon ASM, the DC  that of date, C T Wood, President but B.-P. would not accept the role of Hon SM until he knew the name and had seen it working.  He later accepted the role.

T M Garaway and A W Rigden were voted gold Thanks Badges for their work in 1922. 

Cambridge University Rover Troop                   CURT                  7778       1923 – 1928

This Troop registration has few details and no IHQ date stamp.  It was in this year that the Town Rovers started and the addition of University to the title appears to be the reason this registration was retained.  The IHQ number remains the same and gives for 1924 the ‘all ranks’ total as 80.  It reaffirms Members of the University only.

  • B Armstrong                Scout Master

31st Cambridge           Cambridge University Rover Troop                                     1928 – 1967/8

This was a re registration, ‘to add 31st Cambridge’ only and is dated 23rd November 1928.  Whilst this is during and probably alongside the registration of new Groups 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th it is a renaming on a ‘Change in Group Registration’ Form C2.

  • T M Cherry                  Group Scout Master (A title only located once)

At this date the membership and some officials changed rapidly but some senior leaders were Fellows of the University and engaged for longer periods.  In 1932 all four were no longer undergraduates.

  • Dr J Parry                    RSL                              Clare              
  • J G Manners                ARSL                            Queens’
  • Rev G K Tibbatt           DCC                             Sidney Sussex
  • Prof Duff                     Senior Treasurer         Trinity

Not all Fellows active in scouting were members of the Rover Troop.  A. Valentine Valentine- Richards was active in the 10th and 21st Cambridge and the Cambridge University Mountaineering Club but not formally with the Rovers.

Cambridge University Rover Scout Troop            CURST

This title was often used.  A registration in this name has not been located. By 1950 sometimes given as Cambridge University Scout Group.

Cambridge University Scout and Guide Club          CUSAGC           7550              1953 – date

Formed in 1953 from CURT and Girton Guides they did not take a Cambridge Number, sitting outside the District as a member of Student Scout and Guide Association (SSAGO).

The Rover Crew continued alongside or as a part of CUSAGC.  The Rovers finally came to an end in 1966/7.  The relationship is unclear; it may be that the Rover Crew was the male portion of CUSACG or a male only enclave for some men within CUSAGC. 

This record ends with the end of the Rovers in 1967.  A separate work on CUSAGC from 1950 is planned.

JWR Archivist Sept 2022