Other Scout Organisations in Cambridge

Cambridge District Scout Archives

Whilst The Scout Association is the largest Scouting group in Britain other Scouting organisations have prospered.  This is not unusual and many countries run parallel organisations.  The largest of these was the British Boy Scouts which ‘in 1910 were about a third of all Scouts’.      www.netpages.free-online.co.uk/bbs/bbs.htm

Cambridge Archives

Stepping In


Before 1914 many Scouting organisations were established, some independently or, often, within other organisations.  The Church Lads’ Brigade, Boys’ Brigade, London Diocese, Salvation Army and YMCA sponsored troops.  Most either joined the Boys Scouts Association, the last being the Salvation Army Life Saving Scouts in 1947, or dropped Scouting from their programme.  From BBS website history

The location and history of these Groups would add to the picture of early Scouting in Cambridge but early records are reported lost.  Numbers rapidly shrank.

1910 / 1911

In March 1910 photo of Histon Peace Scouts. The name was selected by the founder before the formation of the British Boy Scouts and whilst they came to consider themselves aligned with the BBS they elected not to change the title.

With the photo is a mention of the review of Sunday May 28th 1911 by Sir Francis Vane in which 1st 2nd & 3rd Cambridge and 1st Shelford (also) attended. Cambridgeshire Collection  Y HIS K10 53963

Douglas Bowles Founder and SM Histon: From David Oates

1911 – 1912 +/-

The Incorporated Church Scout Patrol at St Luke’s Chesterton is recorded in photograph’s held by the Cambridgeshire Archives. This body, which was formed in March 1909, was absorbed into the Church Lads Brigade in 1913 – 1914.


Histon Troop of Peace Scouts was inspected by Sir Francis Vane, President of the British Boy Scouts who said the Histon Troop was not only the First of All in England, but the First of All in the world (great applause). War is an awful thing and the Peace Scouts were an order whose role was to rescue and save, not destroy. Their ambulance work was performed with enthusiasm, the Morse signaling was good and the Swedish drill excellent. But they should be given training in Fire Brigade work so they could assist in passing buckets of water in an emergency.                                                                                     11 03 24e  (Mike Petty)

In a newspaper report the full letter from Sir Francis Vane to the SM Douglas Bowles is apparently addressed to ‘1st Histon Peace Scouts (First of All) Sir Francis Vane’s Own’ and later wrote ‘as they have done me the honour of calling the Troop by my name’.

The Sunday School; Chronicle and Christian Outlook of 17th March 1910 interview with Sir Francis Vane is accompanied by a photograph of the 1st Hounslow Company (Sir Francis Vanes Own).


Peace Scouts – the largest component of this collection of Scouting Organisations was the British Boy Scouts.  The BBS remain as a very small number of Groups in Britain; 15 Groups, 5 of which are Rover Crews.

Note: The Cambridge B-P Scouts mentioned in this 1911 cutting (re printed in 2011, Cambridge News) are the body that became the Scouting Association. The name was given to differentiate them from other Scouting bodies. The current Baden-Powell Scouts were formed in 1976.


In 1912 the last of the BBS Troops (British Boy Scouts) in the Cambridge area were welcomed into the Cambridge District of the Scout Association         Annual Report 1912

‘During the present year we have been able to welcome the remaining troops of the British Boy Scouts into our organisation …all under one banner’

The known BBS Troops are

1st Histon (First of All) Sir Francis Vane’s Ownwhich became 4th Cambridge District1912
1st Cambridgehistory unknown
2nd Cambridgehistory unknown
3rd Cambridge15th Cambridge St Giles1912
ShelfordNo clear continuation. Shelford later 12th Cambridge Districtregistered 1924

Nowhere is it clearly stated that Histon Peace Scouts was 1st Company Cambridge British Boy Scouts and was probably not. They became full aligned with the newer BBS but elected not to alter their name, which had been chosen before the formation of the BBS. They were based in Histon and became 4th Cambridge District (Histon) on transfer to BP Scouts.

11th Cambridge District is listed as an Independent Scout Troop prior to joining the Cambridge District in 1912.


Harston Pack had been running for some months ‘It was agreed that Mr Slater would inspect the pack and if satisfied…regularise…’


The Salvation Army Life Saving Scouts merged with the Scout Association in June.  As sponsored Groups the names will include Salvation Army

1947 – 1951    Polish Scouts were attempting to claim recognition whilst maintaining their Polish Scout identity.  The British Scout association could not recognise them as the National body.  They could join the local scout Associations if they stepped away from claiming precedence as the Polish Scouts Association as a separate body from the new post war Scout Association in Poland.

Stepping Out

The Girton Scouts Group ceded from the Scout Association to the FSE now ESF (UK)

1984    European Scouts, distinguished on parade by a traditional uniform of wide-brimmed hats and shorts, are making their mark in the Cambridge area. Locally they were born amid controversy three years ago when a Girton group, then belonging to the mainstream Scout Association, switched to the Federation of European Scouting. Together with groups in Waterbeach and Chesterton, bringing numbers to 140, the now account for 10% of European Scouts in England. They stick closer to the original Baden Powell principles – concentration on skills that can’t be classroom learned. From http://www.mikepetty.org.uk/     19/03/1987 https://archive.org/details/CenturyOfCambridgeNewsAugust2015 M.J.Petty                   A Century of Cambridge News 1888-1988. 1988    c.37.9

The 3rd/ 4th Cambridgeshire ended in 2019 when the last surviving member Ian Shipp, died. He was also a Member of the Black Heron Crew.

The 7th and 8th Cambridgeshire meet in St Ives

2015 B P Scout Association The 1st Dullingham and Stetchworth was opened in 2015. The Association are members of the World Federation of Independent Scouts (WFIS) and were formed in 1970.

2020 Federation of European Scouts (ESF) are currently operating in Girton, and with Groups in St Ives and Great Chesterford are the Iceni Region. 11 other Groups are listed in the UK in 2015. (The European Scout Federation (British Association) is one of the organisations that founded the Confederation of European Scouts (CES) after leaving the Fédération du Scoutisme Européen (FSE).

M.J.Petty                   A Century of Cambridge News 1888-1988. 1988    c.37.9

Other Groups

Other Cambridge/ Cambridgeshire Scout Organisations in 2017

  • The Transatlantic Council run two America Scouting Groups in RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath.   On one occasion, a Group from Alconbury participated in a St Georges Day Meeting and a Group from Mildenhall was working with the local Troops in 2005 – and may be yet.
  • A ‘cluster’ of Polish Scouts, an organisation formed in exile, the ‘Swallows’ is located in Cambridge.                  



Although they need no introduction Girl Guides have run alongside Scouts since 1909 and are included here for completeness.

JWR Archivist Feb 2019