1936 : Ely Rally

Cambridge District Scout Archive

1936 06 29 Boy Scouts and Wolf Cubs gathered a thousand strong at Ely to take part in a huge county rally. Six hundred camped over the weekend in the delightful surroundings of the Cathedral Park. The numerous tents dotted here and there among the trees provided a pleasant spectacle. Saturday brought 120 wolf cubs from Cambridge who chose the novel method of travelling by river, starting from Victoria Bridge. Amongst troops present were Prickwillow, Pampisford, Wilburton and the Whittlesford Sea Scouts (36 06 29a  Looking Back – Wilburton, Grunty Fen and Twentypence, by Mike Petty)

From The Scouter:  No review of the Rally was given

Details of this major event are missing from the Archives.  Possibly for this reason it is not reflected in later compilations of events.  The events of the next decade possibly overshadowed recollections of this gathering.

It was a Cambridgeshire Scout County Rally, not a Jamboree, and the first of its kind for the County.  Cambridgeshire had not joined with Huntingdonshire and Peterborough at this date and was a much smaller County.  Troops came from Cambridge (27), North Cambridge (7), South Cambridge (12), Ely (8), Newmarket (8), Wisbech (11) and March [with Wisbech] (1). The Cambridge District had split into four the year before.

Lord Hampton was present in B-P’s place. B-P had recently completed an arduous tour of South Africa, attempting to open up Scouting ‘for every colour’.

Miss de Beaumont was given specific credit as the ‘able organizer to whom, with others, the success of this rally is due’. ‘She was entirely responsible for the conception of the rally…’. This was Marguerite, later to write ‘The Wolf that never sleeps’ and a friend of the Baden Powell’s.  The older Miss de Beaumont, Elsie, was married in 1932.  Marguerite’s involvement with the Scouts is poorly recorded compared to her work with the Guides but she was Cub Master and active in Cambridge Scout District for around 20 years. 

Lord Hampton Chief Commissioner

We know very little about other leaders involved in the Rally.  C T Wood was County Commissioner at this date, and acting District Commissioner for Cambridge.  His records generally underplay his role in activities, but we do not hold his records for this date.  It may be his report in the Cambridge independent Press of July 1936.

DC’s from all the attendant Districts were present, and from the very small West Cambridge. The Divisional Commander Miss Gaskill, Cambridge District President E H Church, and both W A Mackrow and G M MacFarlane – Grieve ACC’s. Mr. Beresford Webb editor of the Rovers World was present. Conferences for Cubs, Scouts and Rovers were held during the weekend.

The very capable H R Mallett was Cambridge Secretary.  Dr. T M Cherry who organized the successful 1928 Rally in Cambridge attended by BP, is recorded at the Rally, but presumably as a visitor as at this date he was working in Australia.

5th Cambridge ‘..each patrol camped entirely on its own and did its own cooking.’

7th Cambridge  ‘The Kingfishers gained distinction for their good camping at the 1936 Rally at Rally’  A History of the Cambridgeshire High School for Boys

11th Cambridge See below


  • Whittlesford Sea Scouts gave a demonstration of tree felling which they ‘performed well’. They also presented a rescue at sea with a rocket launched line.
  • 9th, 5th Cambridge and Leverington presented a running maze and tumbling.
  • 12th Cambridge Rover Crew Country Dancing
  • Kings School Ely presenting knots with ropes of scouts in a line
  • 5th presented a day in camp

PT was also displayed in the main arena before Troops ang Een Gonyama and ‘hiked’ back to their own camps to provide more scouting demonstrations.

BP did not attend the Rally

These poor quality reproductions from the 11th Album, held by the 11th/9th Cambridge, are all that are currently available.

Mallet was Howard Mallet, later DC, testing the camp bed

JWR Archivist Mar 2021