Jumping the gun and other anomalies

Cambridge District Scout Archive

This is a review of the formal dates of new sections within Scouting based on observations from Cambridge District.  It covers central Scout registration, Rovers, Wolf Cubs and Senior Scouts with observations on Sea Scouts, Air Scouts and the latest sections.

Cambridge District Scout Archive

1910 /1912     Sea Scouts

There is no evidence of Sea Scouts in Cambridge ahead of the provision in 1910 of a special uniform or 1912 when the name Sea Scouts was adopted for the Section.  The 5th Cambridge (Perse) archive has pictures from 1910 with Scouts in Sea Scout uniform.  There is no suggestion that the Troop was identified as other than ‘Scouts’ during these years.

1916    Wolf Cubs

Wolf Cubs are generally given a start date of 1916.  The 50th anniversary was celebrated in 1966.  However, Wolf Cub scarves [Navy and Lemon halves] were advertised as if for all packs in June 1914. 

Cambridge Archives

From records held by Cambridge District, local papers and Parish magazines of the era it is evident that packs were active in late 1914.

  • 12th Cambridge           A 5th Cambridge History refers to a report that in 1914 Wolf Cubs were trained at Chesterton School. I have not located the original source. Chesterton (12th Cambridge) was possibly Milton Road School (New Chesterton)
  • 5th Cambridge            The same review tells of ‘future Scouts at the Perse Prep’ which may either suggest an early Wolf Cub pack or just the recognition that future members of the 5th would come from the feeder school.
  • 8th Cambridge             8th Cambridge (All Saints) had a Pack which required re-organization by November 1914 – according to the Parish magazine.
  •  6th Cambridge           record a Pack in April 1915 with Miss D Le Huray and Mrs. Church P/L Darkin ‘chiefly responsible for the training of the Wolf Cubs’ in July 1915. (Cambs. Chronicle)
  • 19th Cambridge District (Downham, St Leonard) were active in June 1914 (soon to transfer to Newmarket)
  • Miss Young’s A Pack was active in 1915.

Other, similar, pre 1914 start dates are found in the records.

1918    Rover Scouts

It was not until the term Rover Scouts was adopted that the Section can be said to have started, however, it is very clear that it was an idea in action ahead of the formal start.  Older troops were generally known as Senior Scouts ahead of the IHQ usage of the term before it opted for Rover Scouts.   As no other terms were used it may be considered a established name.

The use does not always refer to a Patrol or Troop, sometimes it seems to just recognise the older Scoots in the Troop.   In some of the following it is clearly a plan to cater for the continuing development of the older scouts.   If the name senior scout was a simple description rather than a formal title it reflected the need for an age specific training ahead of the IHQ decision.  It is clear that IHQ was considering the future of Scouting throughout the war.

The term Senior Scout was used formally for a short period before the name Rovers was adopted in 1918.  Some very early proposals used the term Rovers alongside a SS emblem.  Charles McLean, Chief Scout, observed in his Foreword to the 1957 ‘Running a Senior Scout Troop’ that ‘Senior scouting goes back to the very early days in the Movement, when many large Troops split themselves in two on an age basis’.

Cambridge Archives

  • 1912    The 13th Cambridge started a ‘much criticised “Junior Patrol,” not for boys under age, but for the smaller and younger Scouts of the Troop; it has proved to be very advantageous, both to them and to the seniors.’
  • 1917    The 5th Cambridge was training Senior Scouts as a separate body in 1917.  This large school troop retained many boys until 18.
  • 1917    ‘DC reported conversation with the Chief Scout and suggested a plan to the committee for increasing the number of senior scouts by attaching special scout patrols to the Local Volunteer Corps.’              District Minutes             This plan did not mature as the LVC were insufficiently interested or organised.
  • 1917    In Cambridge in 1917 a Senior Scouts Club was organised for all Scouts. 

The Senior Scout Club continued after the use of Rover Scouts as a name was introduced and acknowledged in the District. 

1921    IHQ Registration

The traditional date of central IHQ registration of 1921 is also a formal not an actual date.  Remaining registration documents show a discrepancy of two years (less a day) between the handwritten date on the document (1st October 1919) and the date on the printed ‘Registration Certificate’ counterfoil attached to the Troop Registration Certificate (30th September 1921).  The layout of the form demonstrates that it was intended for this purpose.


The individual ticket 910 is attached to the 1st October 1919 registration of 12th Cambridge (Viscountess Clifden’s Own)

1941    Air Scouts

Ahead of the start of National Air scouts Cambridge District was attempting to liaise with the ATC to form a Scout Patrol within the existing organisation but this did not materialise.  Announcement of the end of this enterprise overlaps with the start of the Scout section in early 1941.    Returns on the local census show Air Scout Patrols from the year of foundation 1941 until 1948. 

1946    Senior Scouts

Senior Patrols were recorded in Cambridge between the wars.  The 60th Cambridge was formed in a staggered start.  A large school Troop the troop gained the name Senior as the Junior Troop was formed.  Others early Senior initiatives were a local response to retention difficulties.  This review is focused on the formal start more immediately ahead of the date usually quoted.

A 1941 Commission on Post War Scouting sought views including ‘should there be a recognised scheme for Senior Scouts’.  Senior Scout patrols were formed and many articles and discussions appeared in The Scouter following the July 1942 Post War Commission report.  The expectation was that War Service Scouts would become Senior Scouts.  There is no clear transfer in Cambridge Archives although the last of the War Service Scouts were recorded in 1944.

Cambridge Archives

  • 1943    DC drew attention to Senior Scout proposals in the May edition of the Scouter.  Several names were proposed for the new section, including Explorers. The Scouter Dec 1943.
  • 1944 13th Cambridge started a Senior Patrol in October 26th 1944 with the full knowledge of the DC. No Patrol name is recorded. DC Howard Mallett wrote ‘I am glad that you are trying Senior Scouts. I am making the same venture.’ ‘All of the dope about Senior Scouts and their distinguishing marks is in the new Senior Scout pamphlet.’ ‘They should wear maroon shoulder straps. These are not supplied and the best thing you can do is ask them to let you have a maroon scarf and ask one of the mothers…’
  • 1945    War Service Scouts ‘will cease as such after December 31st 1945 and will become known as Senior Scouts’.  Although Senior Scouts were not formally incorporated until October 1946 patrols existed and they were deemed to be ‘beyond the experimental stage’.  The Scouter July
  • 1945    Senior Scouts Commenced in three troops    April District Minutes.  In October 1945 two of the troops were named – 13th and 25thCambridge.

1942    Air Scouts

Cambridge District was investigating the possibility of running a Scout Flight of the ATC ahead of the start of Air Scouts.  The initiative was announced to have foundered in February 1941.  In the same month it was announced that the 12th Cambridge ‘was taking up air scouting’. 

1966    Cub Scouts and Venture Scouts

Wolf Cubs > Cub Scouts                                  As an alteration of name there is no evidence of an early start.  The occasional complaint concerned the change in terminology and de-emphasis of the Jungle Book, ‘no more Day in the Jungle’, and did not appear to result in any early or delayed transfer in registered fact or practical action.  Which is not to suggest that all uniforms changed overnight, mine did not and I was one of the last in the pack in the pre change colours.

Senior Scouts & Rovers > Venture Scouts         The last census returns varied between 1966 and 1967.  Uncertain returns at the census frequently occur as the system alters and it is generally indicative of confusion and some reluctance rather than absolute refusal.  There is no evidence of an early shift but two examples of delayed closure.

  • 31st Cambridge           The Cambridge University Rover Crew persisted after 1953 as a separate component alongside the new mixed (men and women) Cambridge University Scout and Guide Club.  It diminished and finally closed in 1966.
  • 60th Cambridge (Leys) Rovers              The RL of this strong and active school Crew had retired ahead of the end of Rovers.  His influence persisted beyond the end of Rovers and in the decline of formal Scouting at the school the Crew continued to meet at his home to 1971. 

The shift to Ventures was well overseen if not quite co-ordinated by the District and the two examples above were both effectively outside District control. 

1982    Beavers

There is no evidence of a local Beaver Colony re-empting the start of Beavers.  Individual instances of ‘early adoption’ of underage Cubs by an ‘over eager’ leader are recorded.  Like the Wolf Cubs in 1916 they had a single scarf colour for all Beavers.

2003    Explorers

The move to Explorers is not

2021    Squirrels

There is no evidence of a local Squirrel Drey re-empting the start of Squirrels.  Like the Wolf Cubs in 1916 and the Beavers in 1982 they have a single scarf colour for all Squirrels.