Motor Transport

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Motor vehicles have been around longer than Scouting but the earliest recorded use in Cambridge was 1913. The great expansion in availability and knowledge was during and after the Great War. The cost of motors was probably only viable for week long camps that were further than could be reached by Trek cart but not so far that the inconvenient railways, with several trans-shipments, became the cheaper option.

Initially the transport are lorries, possibly with passengers, but coaches become evident, worthy of a photograph or mention. The article below encourages the use of lorries for moving a Troop; at 1/- a mile, with pneumatic tyres and plentiful straw in lieu of seats.

H Q Gazette    Oct 1921

Increasingly we see personal transport, the motorbike and the car, described.  Some camps ran for weeks and campers joined for a period during the event.  Out of term students often travelled from home and not collectively from Cambridge, as they still do.

Cambridge Archive

1913    14th Cambridge set off by Motor Lorry to Houghton             The Scout

1917    Impington Fruit farm camp     ‘Miss Martin Leake bicycled over and spent five mornings a week with us.’  ‘Some of the boys’ mothers came out, even if they had to walk, and helped mend our clothes, wash our towels etc.’                  C T Wood’s album  newspaper article, suggesting that motor transport was for the kit or the distance, not to save the legs of the idle.

1918    Fotheringhay Flax camp An MoD lorry was used to transport the Scouts to the fields.

The driver was considered inept (a bit doolally is the term used) and on one occasion turned the lorry over, fortunately whilst empty, where it lay for three days.  A contemporary report says rather that it was stuck with two wheels in a deep ditch.

C T Wood’s album Fotheringhay 1918
C T Wood’s album  No 205  1922 Personal transport to camp
2nd Cambridge 1920’s

1930’s  2nd Cambridge                        A photo exists of ‘The site, (with bus)’  which was a single deck coach   In the period 1930 – 1934 the album also shows cycle hikes, cycle trailer, handcart rigged as trek cart, horse drawn cart in the mountains,  and a medium sized cart without attached horse possibly to be hand drawn.

2nd Cambridge 1931 The distant coach
7th Cambridge 1946
28th Cambridge 1961 Walesby (Note the trek cart)

1977    ‘gone are the days when we had to take camp gear to and from the railway stations by hired handcarts. This is replaced by a motor coach picking up everything at a Group headquarters and transporting direct to a camp site and returning in the same way. Without progress like this we could well have petered out, as has been the case of some other organisations, whilst Scouting has gone on from strength to strength.’           Ken North 70 years

1979    Wiltshire         Transport was via a coach from Cambridge for the Scouts, one car and a Luton van for the kit.       The coach did not remain and most activities were planned on site.  Following two days of torrential rain the Luton was used to transport the troop to a swimming pool.

JWR Archivist Apr 2019