In the Beginning: 1908 – 1910

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Cambridge Archive

Jan 1908                     

Scouting for Boys was first published on 24th January 1908.

March 1908               

“A public meeting was held at the Perse School in March 1908 when Sir Robert Baden Powell was present and gave an address on the aims and methods of Scouting. The meeting was well attended by some of the most influential people in Cambridge, and the direct result of it was the formation of several isolated units scattered about the town, chiefly in the form of “monkey patrols”; i.e. small parties of boys who banded themselves together and played at scouting without being under any proper control.’

‘ As time went on gentlemen took these patrols in hand, and several larger troops were formed, on a more secure basis, in central Cambridge, Cherry Hinton and Chesterton, at the Perse and Higher Grade Schools and in connection with the Boys’ Brigade Company.’ Ken North        70 years of Scouting (delivered 1978) and taken from the records compiled by Howard Mallett, long term Secretary 1912 – 1936 and DC 1945 – 1952

March 1908                            ‘Baden-Powell addressed a meeting at the Perse School following which isolated patrols were formed in and around Cambridge‘                           5th Cambridge Scouts The first 50 years

30th May 1910                         Inauguration of Cambridge and District Boy Scouts Association

Summer 1908            

Photographs show the 2nd Cambridge camping in the summer of 1908.

During this period Dr W.H.D. Rouse of the Perse School and the Rev. A.S. Duncan Jones, Dean of Caius College successively acted as chairmen.”

November 1908

‘November 16th 1908. According to Mr Mallett the first Minute Book had the heading “Boy Scout Organisation Committee”. Dr Rouse was appointed Chairman (and) proposed “That those present form the Committee with power to co-opt.” A further meeting was held on December 7th. At this meeting a sub-committee was formed to enquire into the opinion “that some of the Boy Scouts are doing harm to certain companies of the Boys’ Brigade.” A Field Day was arranged for “Boxing Day” for the Local Patrols.’

16th November 1908               The first meeting was held to consider organisation of Scouts                                                                                 5th Cambridge Scouts The first 50 years

February 1909

‘At a meeting held on February 15th 1909 when a report regarding Scouts belonging to the Boys’ Brigade and vice versa was made, regulations upon transfers were agreed. Camping Rules were formulated. An age limit was adopted “from 10 years upwards and no maximum age.”’

March 1909   

‘A meeting hold on March 29th passed a regulation “that no scout be allowed to parade in uniform without the consent of his Scoutmaster”, on July 12th “agreed that 28 boys from Cambridge would attend a camp at Hartford. £2 profit from a Promenade Concert was given towards the camp funds.”’

July 1909

 July 26th, “Decided to take a room in Guildhall Place as headquarters of Cambridge Boy Scouts and that 8d a month be subscribed by each troop towards maintenance”.

September 1909

‘That E Troop having grown in numbers considerably be formed into a separate District and called A division’.            (This is the only record of this system of divisions)

March 1910

The All Saints Parish magazine gives us ‘It is pleasant to be able to record the fact that the Central Organisation for Cambridge of the Boy Scouts, after being in a state of chaos for some time, has been thoroughly reorganized and a competent Headquarters staff appointed. There are at present eight troops in Cambridge All Saints Patrol being known as the 8th Cambridge.’

May 1910

30th May 1910                         Inauguration of Cambridge and District Boy Scouts Association                         5th Cambridge Scouts The first 50 years

June 1910

The District was registered at I.H.Q. on June 4th 1910.

November 1910

‘One of the first printed reports of the District dated November 1910 shows the number of scouts as: Cambridge troops 244, District troops 138, total 382. Another report of the same date shows 10 town troops and 7 district troops, the latter including New Cherry Hinton (Blinco Grove), Newnham, Ely, Sutton, Longstanton, Trumpington and Grantchester. ‘

The District ran two numbering systems; Town and District labelled 1st Cambridge and 1st Cambridge District (Balsham) hence the two numbers above.  Of the 10 town troops only one is still in existence under the same number; the 13th Cambridge (St Phillip’s).

Cambridge was the first registered district in the region; Newmarket became a District in 1912 and several troops moved into their jurisdiction.

‘Influential People’

  • Dr W.H.D. Rouse of the Perse School             Chairman                    Headmaster of the Perse School from 1902.  As a teacher he believed firmly in learning by doing. He was a strong personality, described by the archivist of The Perse School as the school’s greatest Headmaster: “Rouse was strongly independent to the point of eccentricity. He hated most machines, all bureaucracy and public exams”.       He stepped away from organisational roles but remained a strong supporter.   
  • Rev. A.S. Duncan Jones,                             Chairman        Dean of Caius College
  • George Stace                                                  President         Mayor
  • F. Howard Marsh, Hon. Col. of RAMC     DC                   Master of Downing
  • Norton-Fagge, F. W. L.            Fell in the first war     Fitzwilliam Hall           County school master?
  • Symonds F C                            Fell in the first war     Gonville and Caius     


  • Arthur Gray                                                     Jesus College (Master 1912 – 1940)
  • Rev Hennessey                                               Dean of Selwyn          
  • Dr Alexander Wood                                       Emmanuel      
  • Baron Anatole von Hügel                             first curator of Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology 
  • Col R T Caldwell                                             Master of Corpus 
  • Rev B T Dean Smith                                      Supt College Choristers SS
  • Rev Mgr Barnes                                              Chaplin to University at Fisher House
Summary from 2nd Annual report of 1912 – 1913, possibly printed early 1914.

JWR Archivist July 2019