Cambridge District Scout Archive
Kayaks and Canoes are well known activities for Scouts. Building canoes, initially from wood and canvas and in the 1960’s and 70’s from fibreglass, were activities for a Troop or single Scout. I did so myself, hiring the mould and requisitioning the garage.
Many groups own or have owned canoes. They were not counted then or now. The availability of fiberglass moulds in the 1960’s and 1970’s extended the availability of canoes although HQ felt the need to alert Scouts to the danger of glass fiber catalyst in the eye.
The following reports are from the earlier days of canoeing by Cambridge Scouts.
1932 2nd Cambridge
1935 Canoes were dispalayed under Handicraft at the District display ‘A Mixed Bag’, which suggests that they had been made by Scouts.
1935 1st Harston (at the cusp of moving between Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire Districts, previously a patrol of the 56th Cambridge) decided to ‘Hire canoes on the river if a scout could swim 50 yards in clothing’.
1940 60th Cambridge (Leys school) purchased two canoes which they pitched and varnished.
1947 12th Cambridge Hike report. Canoed to Baits Bite lock and hiked to camp site. Returned to pick up canoes from lock keepers garden and canoed back.
1948 ’It is not easy to buy enough wood for more kayaks so we acquired at low cost a number of auxiliary petrol tanks used on aircraft during the war. Very reliable rafts can be easily constructed to take 4 or 6 scouts each‘. 60th Cambridge The Scouter July
c 1950 12th Cambridge ‘Adventurer’ carried Canadian Canoes on occasions. Terry Shaw of the 12th recalls making a canoe in a tent at Cambridge Festival (possibly Royal Show, 1951).
1963 54th participating in Bedford Canoe Race
1960s Senior Scouts from the 54th canoed from Trier to Koblenz along the River Mosel. This group designed canoe storage in an uncompleted rebuild twenty years later.
1970’s Grantchester to Waterbeach long distance (kayak) races were held. Punts were the principle hazard ‘although judging from the report that a punt was sunk by one of our competing doubles ‘hazard’ may not be the correct word to use’.
1964 54th Wood for five double canoes ₤42/0/4
1967 54th Fiberglass for canoe ₤5
1975 11/9th Registered five canoes with the Cam River Board.
1979 East/ West Cambridge Canoe regatta held canoe, raft, sprint and long distance races
One of the ‘names’ given to Senior Scout patrols he was an arctic explorer. Members of his parties learnt to roll their canoes in the Cam in the 1930’s. This was ‘a very difficult skill, previously known only to the Eskimos’. If not the first European to master this skill he was one of the first.
JWR Archivist May 2019