Cambridge being the home of the Scott Polar Institute and the British Antartctic Survey and the focus of much research it is perhaps not surprising that we can claim some connections to polar explorers.
Roger Crabtree of the 5th Cambridge was a member of the British Antarctic Survey for ten years and received the Polar Medal. (See Awards, Badges and Insignia/ Other medals)
Sir Vivian Fuchs became a sponsor of the Tithe Venture Scout Unit. The Fuchs medal for members of the British Antarctic Survey, is named in his honour.
Gino Watkins, one of the ‘names’ selected for Senior Scout patrols, was at Cambridge and recruited his team in part from Cambridge – One, and only one, of whom, Freddie Spencer Chapman, I have yet been able to identify as a Scout. (See Structure/Sections/ Patrol Names: Cambridge Connections)
Edward Wilson, another senior Scout patrol ‘name’ who accompanied Scott was at Gonville and Cauis as a student. The copy of Scouting for Boys that accompanied him to the Antarctic is held by the Heritage Collection at Gilwell. (See Structure/Sections/ Patrol Names: Cambridge Connections)
The role of Rev Harold Ernest Lumsden has also been overlooked. ADC for the Cambridge District in 1923 he went on to become Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Falkland Islands. During his time there he presided over the consecration of Sir Ernest Shackletons grave on South Georgia. Most notably in 1934 he provided the British Grahamland Survey ship the Penola with an additional crew member, his cat Lummo.
Lummo, also known as Lumus or Lummus, survived over two years on the voyage, being fed on seal liver and penguin breast. A rock at the SW of the Wilhelm Archipelago is named Lumus Rock in his memory. He was the only ships cat to survive and returned to live in Surrey with a member of the crew. He died during WW2.
In 1918 an influenza pandemic spread across the world.
The Cambridge District Scouts held a camp to pick flax and help the war effort when they were struck down.
No Doctors were available but they gargled with Condy’s fluid and dosed with Ammoniated Quinine, (with saccharin) and slept in the open air to reduce cross infection. On the worst day 16 new cases were recorded.
No one died at this camp though the death toll world wide was between 40 and 100 million. In the UK 228,000 died.
I have been given access to the very earliest records of the 13th Cambridge Scouts from 1910. These Scouts are in direct contrast to the list of Scouters of the same era. All are local, the Scouters are very often University men; the Scouts have less idiosyncratic names of two or three parts, none of the four or five part hyphenated names some in the Scouters list show; none have memorable careers recorded in the periodicals of Church, School, University or Military.
That being so I have started to look in the records of the Cambridgehsire Regiment, not because there is any direct link – that was the finction of the OTC and Territorial Forces not the Boy Scouts – but because it is likely that some local lads went into the local regiment when the call came.
The search has just begun and will rely on finding names from the very earliest of Troops and a thorough search of those born in the 1910s and 1920s.
So far three names have turned up, Benjamin Robert Thompson (See page under People/ Individuals/ Cambridge Scouts), and the two Whitley brothers from WW2 (See Local History/ WW1 WW2/ Rolls of Honour/ 28th Roll of Honour.
Two POWs, two deaths, one MM (the first located) (See Structure/ District/ Early Support/ Military Gallantry Medals). If you are aware of any stories please let me know.
The last night at the shop held a small cameo piece that placed the Equipment Store and Cambridge Scout Shop in a wider context. Two Scouting visitors with minimal English, possibly from just over the North Sea, were insistent on taking photographs of the shop and the workers.
I do not know if they were aware that it was the last night, but the style of the room and the evident seniority of the volunteers evidenced the worth and the work given to Scouting, the shop and the District. They saw that our norm was anything but. The Shop has been a remarkable example of the strength of Scouting in Cambridge.
They insisted on photographs (as did I). See Structure/ District/ Equipment Store.
Bob and Pam and one last night customer from the 28th. His tie, bedecked with fleur de lys, is choosen for the occasion.
We will all need somewhere new to go with a chance of bumping into as much Scouting experience and friendship.
Don Potter was a Scout and a sculpter who first displayed his skills working at Gilwell Park. His work on gateways and Totem poles brought him to the attention of BP who gave him commissions.
The Hele Trophy which remains in County archive was carved by Don. The trophy was first presented in 1937. Don was called ‘Don Potter of Gilwell’ in the newspaper article of 1939 although he had long moved on.
Don was apprentice to Eric Gill at this time and went on to also work in stone. Much of the wood carving that goes under Gill’s name was executed by Don. Eric Gill has links with Cambridge, carving the war memorial at Trumpington and the Angel Archway in Jesus College amongst many other pieces. David Kindersley founder of the Cambridge based Kindersley workshop was also Gill’s apprentice.
See Activities/ Trophies/ Trophies Cups and Competitions/ County Trophies/ Hele Trophy
Don carved the Granite statue of BP at BP House and the memorial stone on Brownsea Island. He remained a Scout throughout his life, dying, aged 102, in 2004.
Don was amongst the first Rope Spinners seeing a Music Hall act in 1920 and within a year became proficient. He introduced this to Scouting and Rope Spinning later became a Proficiency badge.
A poor photo of a poor photo but presumably this is the Kestel Patrol corner. If the gas light would now add to the atmosphere, originally it was the norm. Not a room for the more active past times and lacking storage for patrol kit and awards that many patrol corners suggest.
See Structure/ Meeting places/ Dens and Corners
The 13th Archive hold many troop and patrol certificates which show signs of being displayed to the credit of all, presumably on a patrol board or corner.
The Equipment store came into being on Monday 15th November 1926.
Originally housed in the Grafton Street HQ the Equipment Store become an important part of the District. In the days of letters and noticeboards it provided an informal point of contact alongside selling equipment and clothing.
It survived a slow start and the Second World War to regularly contribute significant sums to the District for many years. This kept the District portion of the yearly Capitation at a low and occasionally very low level.
The Scout Shop, the informal name change came well before it was formally adopted, moved to Perne Road with the opening of the HQ in 1957. Despite initial concerns it thrived at the new site only diminishing with the advent of online shopping. It was at this point that Ken North purchased the curtains for the cubicles – they have ‘done service’ for 62 years.
See Structure/ District/ Cambridge Scout Shop/ The Equipment Store
An incomplete list of those who worked at the shop can be found on this page. I would very much like to add as many names as possible to this list. Please contact me through the Website ‘Contacts’ with names and recollections. Thank you.
Throughout the Second World War Arthur of the 13th worked through to Kings Scout. The Troop, Group and District leadership were more than halved at this time and Arthurs progress is remarkable. At the end of this journey he is directly communicating, on behalf of himself and younger Scouts, with the first Cambridge Scouts who had stepped back to ‘hold the fort’.
Arthur went on to continue Scouting with Rover Crews in the Forces.
Structure/ Sections /Rovers, Venturs and Explorers / Rover Crews in the Forces
Awards, Badges and Insignia/ Progress to Kings Scout
It has just occurred to me that in this skillset, rarely used in the UK, we see training for boys who might wish to take up the opportunity to work in the Colonies.
We have evidence of Cambridge Scouts emigrating and working on farms, but none of this skill being required. Harnessing the team for the plough is far removed from corraling the herd or the freeranging brumbies.
And it was fun, the ‘Western’ was a very popular genre at the flicks and we have records of one Cub who left preferring to play ‘Cowboys and Indians’.
Local History/ Scout Emigration Service
Activities/ Awards, Badges and Insignia/ Proficiency Badges
In recognition of the first faltering year of this site I offer a small memory of John Chambers, whose collection was the core of the physical archive, and in recognition of Rosemary whose generosity in passing on his vast collection to friends and the District made it all possible.
I have yet to write a page specifically on John and his many activities. If any who knew him would care to forward memories or stories they will be most welcome. The dry bones of Groups, dates and roles need the tang of the personal to round out the story.
Whilst most of the Cambridge specific items in John’s collection were passed to District many other items from John’s collection would inform the early years generally and Cambridge specifically. If you were among John’s friends who have part of his collection as a momento please do attach a note asking that they be held with respect or offered to the Cambridge District Scout Archive or the Cambridgeshire Collection at the central library.
I volunteer in second hand charity bookshop and am very aware of much that is passed on without an appreciation of their worth to an archivist. Without these sources we cannot tell the tale of all those who came before and who are here now. We are still missing many of the central records from the 1950s and after 1983. Thank you.