Cambridge District Scout Archives
1908 – 1918
The meeting places of early troops reflect the institutions of the era. Activity centres were provided through the established conduits of social care and development, Churches and schools, not then Nationalised bodies.
1919 – 1939
The increase in the number of village halls, reading rooms, memorial hall and parish halls listed may reflect the greater information from the villages. Churches as identified meeting places diminished, possibly as the Church council and the Group both came to find the rooms available did not match the needs of the boys.
The 13th met at Tracey Hall in 1924 which had ‘no facilities like toilets and water, only gas lighting’. This was probably more than some places out of town could boast. Foxton and District (40th) claimed ‘The Troop hut’ in 1935 whilst 43rd Fen Ditton met in ‘The barn near the River’, the 47th in ‘The Vicarage Barn’, the 53rd in ‘The Old Boathouse Pretoria Road and the 32nd Waterbeach were in ‘The Star Inn’.
No troops claimed a ‘Head Quarters’ in the sense of owning or hiring a building for that use alone, though as some troops that meet up to four times a week may have dominated a space. The Perse school was aspiring to a dedicated space in ‘the new building’ in 1912.
In The Village College Way M Dybeck (1981) quotes Scout Groups requesting accommodation in the new schools. Consideration was given to extending the groundsman’s hut – but they didn’t. Later he describes Scout huts as being ‘usually simple wooden huts’, which ‘if more elaborate usually shared between a number of youth organisations.’ The Village College concept held that some community use will be in the schools direct interest (e.g.Scouts).
The 53rd (St Clement’s) were recorded as meeting in the Cross Keys Yard Magdalen Street – ‘Yard’ here probably refering to buildings around a courtway or road rather than the forecourt itself.
‘The provision of Scouters and the provision of Headquarters remain our two most urgent needs’ AGM report
Cambridge Troops that listed meeting places in between 1910 – 12, the 1918 report and in the list of the 1960’s gives us:
The use of the Rectory has been included in the category of Church Hall/ rooms. Whilst it was the home of the Rector they were often large buildings which provided facilities for community use.
The nuances in the use of Reading rooms, Village Hall, Parish room, Institute and Memorial Hall were probably of local tradition. A Reading Room with expectations of quiet repose is unlikely to have been hired to a troop. The name presumably no longer denoted the function.
The meeting places in the 1910 – 12 and 1918 lists were before the post war, red brick ‘Memorial Halls’ that are now, 90 to 100 years on being renovated. It may be assumed that the post 1918 influx of buildings (above) was an improvement on what was available before.
The address ‘Bleak House’ (a school) was given for the 12th Cambridge District Bottisham Troop in the 1918 Annual Report – they were gone by 1920. The 9th Cambridge District Linton who met in the ‘Crown Hotel yard’ (now the Crown Inn, below) lasted three years.
The hardy 2nd Cambridge met for a winter on Silver Street Bridge before the temporary amalgamation with the 1st Cambridge District (New Cherry Hinton). A long way from Cambridge, but to disabuse any impression that this was a unique event, a similar meeting place in 1908/9 was named by a history of the 14th Hampstead.
The 19th hired an old slaughter house in Romsey Town in 1916. The report of a break in and destruction of property can be found in the Cambridge Journal of August 1916.
In 1914 the 8th (All Saints) moved into some ‘magnificent workshops in Sidney Street where they made model aeroplanes and had a1.5 tons of clay to make goods for sale. This lasted a year and they moved back into the Parish rooms.
JWR Archivist Mar 2019