Names of Cambridge Scout Groups

Cambridge District Scout Archive

The naming of Troops/ Groups was usually from the founding body (St Phillips’s) or the location.  The names do not give unequivocal information in themselves. 

Names were not kept uniformly in any documentation, or within a group; numbers or location and number or just name or abbreviated name are all used.  Longer titles are often dropped.

Many Cambridge District troops were clearly closely affiliated with the local church but took village names. An example being when The Reverend Hennessey, Dean of Selwyn and very involved in Cambridge Scouting, became Rector at Fulbourn in 1918.  A new Scout Troop was started named the Fulbourn Troop not St Vigors.

Some names are reused. St John’s as a name has had three incarnations; St John’s Choir 1919, St John’s Mission Church in Wellington Street 1923 and St John’s Cherry Hinton Parish 1928.  The first two of these may both have stemmed from St John’s College but they overlapped.  The third is a separate institution.  St John’s Choir was based at St John’s College School for the choristers and is variously called College, School and Choir or combinations of the three.

‘St.’ names could refer to the Church, the Church school or the school.  The interaction between them is not always clear, though reading if the group is Open or Controlled may indicate the intent.  Conversely at least one Church group was Open ‘at the Vicar’s suggestion’.

‘Higher Grade’ troop refers to the Higher Grade school, it is not a troop boast, and Morley Memorial is a school but it was closely associated with Homerton (teacher training) College just along the road.

The 28th Cambridge (St John’s) has long been confusingly listed as Cherry Hinton.  St John’s Church, which sits on Hills Road near Homerton College, is in Cherry Hinton parish.  The parish was based on the old village and the new developments of the early 1900’s were initially called New Cherry Hinton.  This appellation ‘Cherry Hinton’ remained on the web pages into the new millennium long after this name and parish boundaries have stopped being generally used as geographical markers.

Name changes

Many combinations of villages were recorded in the early days.  This changed within a year in many cases, though lack of space on records may have caused some alterations. Longstanton and Lolworth became Longstanton, Lolworth and Willingham and later Lolworth. 

Combination names also existed in the Town groups when one or both needed an amalgamation to keep going.  These were marriages based partly on location but other factors were able to be considered.  As with the 11th/9th the personal relationships between the Scout Masters did play a part. 

Some College based groups dropped the ‘college’ or the ‘choir’ in reports.  This was, undoubtedly, often for space reasons.  This also occurred as in-house recruitment parameters changed or the self limiting age of a boy’s choir and the demands and merits of the boys remaining in the troop became stronger.  Or the choir closed.

The titles (see Titled groups) are less frequently used in the Gazette, newspaper reports or lists of groups attending events, the numbers alone being more usual.   The Notts’ Own is more often applied than others, possibly because of the clear history and because it is short enough and easy enough to remember. It also stands as a memorial.

In 1924 the District discussed the power of Scout Masters to change the name on the annual re-registration.  A letter from Imperial Headquarters made it clear that this could only be done with the consent of the Local Association and DC.  The incident that initiated this enquiry is not minuted.  Changes between being Open or Controlled need a formal Form C in triplicate, changes of name just require notification to County and IHQ.

The 12th altered its name (temporarily) to City of Cambridge when Cambridge was first given City status in 1951.  It altered from Viscountess to Viscount in 1939 although it is found in the shortened, misrecorded or misheard form earlier. The name was still in use in 1995.

Increasingly names became in practice locations and often the affiliation part of the name was dropped.   Church locations were used less in society as markers for identifying place or were less central to having access to the group.  This leads to some lack of certainty about the continuity of a group or group affiliation although the official group name may remain.

Named Groups

Old Chesterton/ New Chesterton: This pair of names had an unclear history. It is now apparent that they were locations and not claiming historical precedence. The 1910 list has 10th Cambridge ‘New Chesterton’, a name that was later taken to 12th Cambridge which sprung from the 10th. Both these Troops were based in a part of town that was rapidly expanding away from the old village of Chesterton and like ‘New Cherry Hinton’ (above) was linked to the existing village. Old Chesterton has been used by the 26th and 54th Cambridge as a location and a differentiation. ‘New Chesterton’ was the earlier troop. No troops are listed, even in shorthand, that might suggest otherwise.

Named Groups, as opposed to Titled Groups, are rare. Abington (once 25th Cambridge) calls itself the Jeremiah’s after the local character Jeremiah Lagden, reputedly a highwayman. For those whose points of reference jump more readily to the Bible the supposed link to lamantations are a puzzle.


Names may quickly become poor indicators of affiliations. They are often recorded in shorthand, or just by number and changes in affiliation such as may be seen by the dropping of a church name can only be assumed.

JWR Archivist Jan 2019