Cambridge District Scout Archives

Flooding is not an unusual event in the flat country north of the City of Cambridge, much of which sits below sea level.  The ‘islands’ were identified by the first settlers; the highest of which is Ely which stands on a hill 39m above sea level.   Fen flooding is generally not a problem – if it floods you can’t camp, but you may need to mend the dykes.  Flooding elsewhere requires learning about different landscapes.

Cambridge Archives

1912 1st Cambridge Summer Camp was exceptionally and relentless wet and windy. One tent was flooded out, the Scouts taking over the Scoutmasters tent, and he their tent. The planned visit from the local DC and ex-Cambridge Scouter was abandoned because the railway line was flooded and the sea too rough to land.

1934                Granta at Abington dried up facilitating the digging out of a bathing pool

1947                Collection at St Georges Day to the Fen Distress Fund          Severe flooding of the Fens following very wet winter and high spring tides

1953                Cambridge scouts mended dykes in Kings Lynn and helping at WVS centres during the Great Flood.  The Mayor Flood Relief Fund was a recipient of local fundraising.

                        Numbers were low because many were ‘Flood bashing on the Ouse.’  Report of University meeting.

                        Delivered leaflets in March on behalf of WVS requesting clothing for flood victims. 5th, 7th, 11th, 23rd, 26th, 28th, 29th, 51st, 60th delivered leaflets and complained that they needed more. Initially only 1400 were available , a second printing provided a further 2 – 300 for each Group.

60th Cambridge (Leys school) ‘SENIOR SCOUT TROOP Operation ” Flood Relief ” has been the main job for senior scouts in recent weeks. It began on .the first Saturday afternoon during the flood emergency and continued for ten days. At the W.V.S. bases at Thornton Road, Coldham’s Lane and Madingley Road, parties of senior and junior scouts assisted by members of the School joined in the work of unloading lorries and sorting the clothes parcels. They were unfortunately not on duty when the Queen Mother visited the bases and talked to the voluntary helpers. (From Leys Fortnightly magazine)

60th filling sandbags

1954                       5th Cambridge                  Lake District        one party had to return to camp in the early hours of the morning.  Their camp which was about 1500 feet above base and about three miles away had been swamped in the night by the overflow from a small lake.

1957                Flood Relief in Derbyshire      Five Cambridge Scouts who, on being faced with the floods reacted with such support as to receive the commendation of the Chief Constable.

1974                St Georges Day collection was sent to Australian Scouts who had suffered in the floods

1979                The Avon, Church Farm, Little Somerford, Chippenham, Wiltshire.           ‘During the camp we had 2 days of torrential rain. Returning to the site the village was under nearly 2ft of water. The van got through ok, but we were worried about the site; it was wet but ok.  Whilst cooking the evening meal on the only fire pit that was still operational it was noticed the water in the river was actually rising, even though the rain had stopped.  The Scouts went to bed but PL’s stayed up. About 2330hrs the water had risen to 6 inches below the bank. Scouts were woken; patrol tents moved to higher ground, as we did this the river broke its bank and flooded the site. Scout Staves and rope were used to mark a safe path out of the water as we moved kit and Scouts to safety. Wet stores and dry stores could not be evacuated in time’



‘The farmer had neglected to tell us that after severe rain, further up the valley sluice gates were often opened, to prevent flooding the other villages and this occasionally flooded the access track field and the opposing bank to where the camp was pitched. He was very apologetic but also amazed at Scouting resilience.‘ For years afterwards 2 of our white Icelandic tents had a water line ‘tide mark’ at 18inches which is the depth the water got to where the stores tents were.’                Geoff Oliver 28th Cambridge

2002 Cam Jam

We had rain during the first few days on the Thursday evening we had really heavy rain with some of the sub camps getting flooded. The crew worked hard getting the temporary light from the car park to the worst effective areas. Then helping in moving equipment into the cattle sheds where we had to move around 600 of the campers. When we done as much as we could they returned to their camping area only to find it was flooded. As some of the other crew had caravans, they were able to accommodate those who could not use the tents.

The next morning, we cleared one of the marquees filling it with washing lines, hiring in lots of Gas space heaters. We were then able to take peoples wet sleeping bags. It was like a sauna in the marquee you could only spend a short time in there. We got the EESG staff to get a sludge gulper to remove the water from some of the worst affected areas. On the area outside one of the permanent building (the dog show office) two Scouter’s were paddling their canoes.

During the previous camp we had good co-operation form the staff at the show ground. This time there had been a change of management, they were not that helpful.  We received an invoice from EESG for removing the water from the ground. They also tried to get the youngster out of the cattle sheds as they said we had not booked them. Tony Claydon

There was torrential rain and many areas of the east of England show ground flooded. Numerous groups had tents under water. Drainage ditches were spontaneously dug which later caused the organising team headaches with the site management. The majority of the young people were evacuated over night to the empty cattle sheds that were used for activities during the day. Many people left the following day and the camp was finished earlier than planned. Although I do remember several kayaks being paddled in the deeper puddles the following day!I helped run a climbing wall with 32nd Waterbeach that year. We had a lot of Venture Scouts/Adults on our subcamp so most stayed at the camp site. I remember sitting in our chairs in a long row, with a few drinks and snacks, watching the lightning. It was amazing. Thankfully it stopped raining which is why we all sat outside. Sarah Claydon

2008                Cherry Jam Centenary Camp             This camp was constructed in baking sunshine, some bikini clad volunteers even put aside their scarves as they toiled ahead of the opening.  Then the weather moved to drizzle and downpour.  The gently undulating site pooled water; those who donned wellington boots misjudged the depth of the ‘puddles’ and experienced both water and drowned worms coming over the top.  For some it is that memory that lingers.

 11th/9th photo

2018                Wicken Fen                  This National Trust site is preserved as a low lying nature reserve and by intent is regularly flooded. A green field camp site has been constructed raised on platforms.

It should be noted that Crafts Hill District, once part of Cambridge District and standing directly north of the city, has a badge that depicts a triangulation station (Trig point) with the spot height of 246. 

This is the highest point in the district, in feet, in the atypically high western portion of the district.

2nd Cambridge on Camp  It is not clear if the River Leadon is flooded