Cambridge District Scout Archive
Half Pound Nights
This treat is a small feast in which each participant brings half a pound of food to share. It is a Social evening without the usual Scouting activities.
Ken North recalls ‘the end of term half pound night social’ of the 13th in 1925. Other 13th Cambridge archives record such evenings once or twice a year between 1935 and 1937, those in 1935 and 1936 being the last meeting before Christmas. The 11th/9th held a half pound night in 1970.
Generally just referred to as Half a Pound Night many other troop records list the same event, equally shorn of detail. Little is recorded of peripheral activities – singing or games – it reads as if it was generally understood just what it entailed.
When discussing this with leaders who were active in Cambridge Scouting from 1970’s they did not know what it meant.
Before permanent campsites and the institution of the Providore (camp shop) a camp canteen or tuck shop was provided on camp by the leaders. They had the benefits of providing a supplement to the camp food, keeping any spending money in house and giving the campers an element of control in their choice of food. Leaders usually opened on one or two specific occasions, effectively limiting the consequences of over indulgence, and sometimes limited the amount that could be spent on any occasion.
Canteen, of course, echoes the military usage and many records of military life recognise the soldiers filling up at their own expense and often with much the same food. The military differentiation between Wet and Dry canteen does not apply here.
1919 6th Cambridge ‘Scout Half pound night in hall.’ No explanation exists beside this entry in the Higher Grade School Log book.
1922 7th Cambridge The accounts that run from 1922 to 1939/45 describe the purchase of a ‘Canteen’. Potentially confused with the purchase of a canteen of cutlery for the camp as listed in other troops, this, it is clear, was snacks and treats for the boys to purchase. Later recorders called this Tuck as in Tuck shop.
- 1926 Canteen £8/16/0 Canteen receipts £4/10/0
- 1927 Canteen £4/5/0 Canteen receipts £5/14/4
- 1928 Canteen £4/1/7 Canteen receipts £4/19/11
- 1932 Canteen 15/9 Canteen receipts £1/1/0 Easter camp
- 1932 Canteen £1/19/2 Canteen receipts £3/0/0
- 1938 Tuck shop £1/14/11 Tuck shop receipts £2/0/2
1926 13th Cambridge camp Ken North (then 14) ‘I was appointed Quartermaster and also put in charge of the ‘tuck’ shop. (We were about two miles away from the village).
1928 23rd Cub Camp – On the day the tuck shop was opened at camp (maximum 3d.) they had a quinine free day.
1957 7th Cambridge record an ‘annual binge’ with reference to eating game(s). The Senior Scouts report a few years later ‘fish and chips and lots of cakes (too many really)’.
1960 28th Cambridge The provision of liquorice at half price half way through a camp helped modify any tendency to costive effects of camp menus.
2017/8 The ‘All Sections’ District camps, held on a greenfield site, hosted tuck shops run as fund raisers.
The 7th Cambridge record, in the 1920’s and 30’s, the purchase of Toffee, an entry modified by the term (for) treasure. At 1/- worth it would feed a patrol not a troop.
In 1944/5 the 13th Cambridge record the visits of (the American) Staff Sargeant Verne Olsen who treated the boys. On one occasion at a Senior scout meeting he brought ‘grub’, on another he treated the troop to ‘2d. worth of chips each’. ‘This was greatly appreciated and as soon as they were dismissed the Scouts made a great dash for the chips.’
JWR Archivist Jan 2020