Hotels, Inns and Pubs

Cambridge District Scout Archive

In the records Pubs are occasionally named to locate troop meeting places or as the sites of Troop meetings.  There is rarely any suggestion that this is within the drinking establishment and it is always clear that this is the Troop or Crew never the Pack. The only

Public Houses served many functions in the community.  They were meeting places often built with rooms for hire and some with bedrooms to let.  Others retained outbuildings originally for used for stabling but now without function.  As such these spaces were occasionally used as meeting places for Scouts.

This record is a reflection of practices in town and country.  The distinction is necessary; whilst attitude to each drinking establishment is a reflection of that individual public house more ‘Pubs’ in villages are more likely to be ‘Inns’ and act as a recognized social hub not a merely a drinking establishment.  Few anywhere would view themselves as drinking dens. Publicans also had sons who were Scouts.  This was certainly the connection with the 12th.

Meeting Places

9th Cambridge District (Linton)           c 1918                        Crown Hotel Yard (now Crown Inn)

53rd Cambridge                                   1938                Cross Keys Yard, Magdalen Street

12th Cambridge                                   Pre 1960          Behind the Portland Arms – the pack met at the school.

In 2021 Lois Elsden, daughter of Donald Elsden wrote ‘the Portland used to stable horses and I know the scouts met upstairs in the building behind the Portland which I guess used to be the stables. There was an outside wooden stair to access the room and my granddad Reuben Elsden put a rail up so it was safe for the boys to climb the stairs. I am pretty sure that brick building is still there, as is the flagpole which the scouts flew their flag from. So yes, ‘behind the Portland’ was definitely the pub’s property.

1st Cambridge                                     c.1946             Senior Sea Scouts of the 1st, having lost their SM were meeting independently above an out building at the Spread Eagle Pub at the bottom of Victoria Road (near Portland Arms)  They were absorbed into the 12th

7th Cambridge Venture Scout Unit The Crown, later renamed the Flying Pig, was used by the Venture Scouts who were up to 20 years of age. The source suggests County School VSU and it is not known if this continued when they merged with the 5th to become Tithe VSU in 1976.

Local Knowledge

At one time pubs were local markers of navigation and location, somewhat less respectable than Churches. As Cambridge reminiscences will give ‘change at the Catholic’ for the bus routes (that is Our Lady and the English Martyrs or OLEM) so were those other clearly marked, readily identifiable buildings the Hotels, Inns and Pubs (Public Houses).

As these drinking places spanned the full range of social acceptability, so their use as signposts reflected the informant.  A full knowledge may be expected in an observant Scout but the use of the Kings Head Hotel as a signpost rather than the Pitts Pub would imply the finer behaviour and better finances of all parties.  And the Kings Head Hotel is more likely to sit on a prime site and be clearly and proudly labelled.

JWR Archivist Feb 2021