Cambridge University Scouting: Town and Home work

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Home work

Patrol logs were encouraged to list work done by Rovers out of term time.  This fell into three categories

  • Work with troops or groups at home, or with old schools
  • Work with other Scout enterprises such as training courses
  • Scouting activities not attached to another troop such as hiking in Saxony

Service organised through the University was often taken ‘as read’ and the patrol reviews did not always mention the unemployed camps, work at WSJ’s, Woodlarks (a camp for ‘cripples’) or flood relief in this category.

Some scouters visited the College Missions in London, some of which hosted Scout Troops.

One report of support in the Long Vacation suggest around 70 – 80% were actively involved at home.  New recruits to the Patrol were, occasionally, apparently new to Scouting, but from the figures in Sidney Sussex and Jesus Log Book many were already involved in their home towns. 

A number, but by no means all, may have been at boarding school.  An undated report to Sidney Sussex College from HQ gives details of only two public schoolboys who were in Troops at school and were to enter Sidney Sussex.  It is perhaps less likely that they were also engaged in troops at home.

Town Work

A ‘few members attended the County School to assist and we are sure that had there been anything for them to do they would have given every satisfaction.’            Trinity Log Book 1929

There is no definitive list of work done by University Rovers in Cambridge District.  The few available Log Books of individual patrols do occasionally list Scouting activities with Cambridge based troops and groups, with individual home troops and groups and more general scouting behaviours such as hiking or helping with non Scout organisations. A section on the back of the index cards to record these details were rarely filled in.

Some College Troops collectively took on District Troops.  Many individual Rovers who gained warrants with local troops did so by themselves and some stepped away from University Scout work as a consequence.  It was the aim of the University Troop to train Scout leaders, to step into a leadership role was the aim and those who did so were dignified with their warrant in some university records.

It was ‘schemed to start a Troop in Trinity Choir’ in October 1933. Other choir troops listed were not University Rover initiatives but many had College Rovers in attendance.

The following list gives numbers to troops known to have received support. It was initially taken from University sources (left hand column) and it awaits other details.  Numbered groups have had or requested help.  Request for help was usually through the DC.  Clearly some numbers were allocated to many Scout groups.  No attempt to differentiate the Group assisted by date or name has been attempted here.

University sourceCollege PatrolsRequest for helpAll other sources
1st  1st      Early Warrants List   <1914
2nd     2nd     EWL also 1937 Distrcit list
   4th      EWL
   5th      EWL
   6th      EWL
7th  7th      EWL also 1937 Distrcit list
   8th      EWL
9thChoir 9th      EWL
10thChoir 10th    EWL
11th  11th    EWL
   12th    EWL
13th 13th 195213th    EWL
   14th    EWL also 1937 Distrcit list
15th  15th    EWL
   17th    EWL
18th Littleton House School   
    23rd St John’s 1937 District list
24thChoir 24th    EWL
26thChoir  1936 County list
29th   29th Selwyn 1937 District list
31st University   
36thTrinity  36th Westcott, Cheshunt 1937 District list
41st   41st Pembroke 1937 District list
    42nd N W Goodman 1930’s
52nd  Littleton House School   
53rd   1936 County list
    64th St John’s 1937 District list
1st Cambridge District  1st Cambridge District
   5th CD  (Aubrey Westlake)
    8th CD (Sawston)
17th CDJesus  

Requests for help from the town or county (some of these were in South Cambridgeshire District) often referred to location rather than number thus in 1938 help was asked for Sawston, Whittlesford, Haslingford, Shelford and Harston.  These Groups did not have a Cambridge number, this District relied on location alone.  Cambridge District Archives has little information on these Groups at this date. Other requests known – Over (1929)

The following details on Uncling are from Sidney Sussex and Jesus Log Book of the 1930’s.

Uncling           Uncling (from Uncle) was the term used to describe student support of local groups.  Of six Groups aided in 1931 five were noted to have temporary or no SM in place.

            Town packs and troops

The aid given appears to fade as the majority of the Jesus and Sidney Patrol gets towards its third year.  Individuals and occasionally small teams from Jesus and Sidney Patrol helped Barton (17th Cambridge District), Coton (38th Cambridge), 13th Cambridge (Notts’ Own) 55th Cambridge and Pampisford.  It is of peripheral note that the numbers given in 1930-31 are in the old format, that is, Cambridge District.  Coton did not have Cambridge District number; nor did it last long. 

17th Cambridge District (Barton) was a Patrol undertaking.  After they handed it over one member continued to walk to Barton each Monday to support the pack, four miles each way.  Some took formal roles with troops as ASM.

 In-house observations on the supported Troops and Packs suggest a level of tact was required by all parties.  These bright and active young men met those ‘in ripe middle age’, ‘incompetent TL’s, and experienced ‘the sudden and often unexpected interference in the running of a meeting by the GSM, an elderly lady.’  The role placed them in ‘an indeterminate position’.  The new ideas and changes appear to have moved on some stuck groups.  The Patrol did give active thought to how to run troops and packs.


A request in 1952 garnered the response that “Littleton House may have preference ‘as it is our pack’.”  Support of the Group was to be written into the CUSAGC constitution.

The University did provide some larger scale Scout competitions for Town Scouts.  The ‘Rovers Rough’ ran in the 1930’s.

            See Structure/ University Scouting/ Forward, Endurance Test, Rovers Rough CUSAGC

The liaison with Town Rover Groups was warm if intermittent and many occasions where Town Rovers were invited along to CURST meetings are recorded elsewhere in the archive.

JWR Archivist Sept 2022