Rope spinning and the Empire

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.

1932 2nd Cambridge

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


One year on

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.

John’s sheath knives

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.


Juniors and Seniors

The archives of the 13th Cambridge St Philips Notts’ Own give instances of both Junior and Senior patrols.

The Junior patrols were formed in 1913 on the large second intake of recruits. Described as ‘Much criticised‘ in DC Malletts summary of the early records ‘it has proved to be very advantageous to both them and senior patrols.‘ This was ‘not for boys under the unofficial age but the smaller and younger Scouts of the troop.’

This was not a standard step but one selected to cope with the situation in which the original scouts, who were significantly older and well established, were joined not by a steady trickle of recruits but by a block intake. This junior patrol dispersed into standard patrols well within two years. The average age at the original intake, over two years before, was 13.7. The very large age spread of 11 to a nominal 18 (but no clear upper age was yet set) generated difficulties – if only in the playing of British Bulldog.

Such intakes have occured elsewhere; the 7th lowered the age of entry from 12 in the 1930’s and appear to have experienced a block influx.

The 13th ‘seniors’ were not labeled as a Senior patrol, they retained their patrol names.

The 13th Cambridge Senior Scouts was first started in 1944. This was ahead of the transition of War Service Scouts (WSS) into Senior Scouts and ahead of the offical start date of 1946. A formal switch from WSS to Senior Scouts has not identified in Cambridge District archives. Discussion on Senior Scouts had been going on during 1943 and information leaflets were available. Despite the rationing uniform changes had been planned.

The DC, Howard Mallett, was aware and indeed started Senior Scouts at the same time. Three Senior Scout Patrols were listed ahead of the fomal census returns in 1947; 13th, 25th, and one other, unidentifed in this document but possibly the 60th, returning from teh evacuation to Scotland and not always included in the Cennsus returns.

The 60th had a Senior Patrol ahead of the idea or formation of offical Senior Patrols. Originally it the troop had only accepted entrants at an older satrting date than the normal. On extending this to the full Scouting range the new troop was known as Junior. This continued until 1947 when the Juniro became the Troop and the Senior retained the name Senior Scouts. The age at the switch became the stndard 15 at this point.

See Structure/ Sections/Senior Scouts in Cambridge

See Structure/ Sections/War Service Scouts in Cambridge

See Activities/ Games/ British Bulldog


An excellent practice

In 1928 the Court of Honour of the 7th Cambridge minuted

‘Barrett also suggested that the excellent practice of regular examination of teeth be continued in the future. The difficulty then arose as to who should examine the teeth. It was suggested that Barrett himself assume this office.’

Barrett did pick up this role at the following meeting. No other record of this examination has been located. It should be noted that the 7th was the County School and, it may be assumed, the children were largely not from families with poor eating habits.

‘Barrett’ was Arthur Max Barrett, recently named T/L and possibly the Max mentioned in some entries. Later his sons would attend the County and become Scouts, one, Roger who adopted the name Syd. Max became a noted medical Doctor at Addenbrookes and Cambridge University.

Other than the general health benefits of being an active Scout, badges from this era included Healthy man, Public Health and Missioner (care of the sick). Elsewhere it was suggested that showers in Scout HQs would be of service. At this time the Bath House along Mill Road forfilled just that role – the chimney for heating the boilers stills stands. The caretakers house attached to the District HQ in Paradise/ Grafton Street had no internal bath house or lavatory.

The unsmiling Scouter above is the Rev Sadd (see People/ Individuals/ Scouters up at Cambridge). I do not know what his teeth were like but he is unlikely to have been sent to the Gilbert Islands with inadequate gnashers. Despite appearances he was not (sad).


The Joy of Account Books

There is a little recognised pleasure in old account books – the deciphering of handwriting and interpretation of the minimalist phraseology and terms. These of the 7th Cambridge, from 1922 to 1940 and on in part to 1945, give a clear picture of the steady worth of the troop (County School).

Throughout this period Subs remained at 2/6 a term, possibly higher than other troops, and they subsidised these with money making enterprises. The strength of the Troop can be identified by the 16/- (sixteen shillings) spent on the 300th Anniversary of the Court of Honour.

Many existing pages are being extended by the details in this book. Account books are rare, often only batches of receipts survive and increasingly accounts are equally obscure electronic versions – if they survive.


Early Scout Bands

If, as the borrowing of the Cymbals by the 13th, all band instruments were borrowed then the apparently short life of many troop bands is understandable. The band comprised 8 or 9 instruments, a significant proportion of the Troop.

The current review of the 13th Cambridge archives suggests that it did not extend much beyond three or four years from its inception on the 1st December 1914. Certainly by 1923 the drums were being offered for sale to the District.

No photograph has yet emerged of the 13th band during this time, but very few records between 1914 and 1918 exist at all. They are particularly valuable telling of this early and formative period of Scouting.

See Activities/ Cambridge Scout Bands


Victorian Scouts

Having recently got around to accessing the 13th Cambridge (Notts Own) archives I have the great pleasure of opening their original Troop Register.

The first Scout listed, George Clarence Austin of Sedgewick Street, was born in June 1895 – and would remain under Victoria’s reign for over five years. He joined the Troop on its opening on the 1st June 1910 aged 14’11”, the oldest of the first seven scouts. The youngest was 12′ 9”

The well rounded 3 in the 13th reads as an 8 – a function of handwriting style, the quality of the cardboard and the ink nib combination.

It should be remembered that the vast majority of British scouts are now Elizabethans.

The archive contains elements of the 7th, 7th/23rd, which amalgamated with the 13th around 2005 and the references to the 67th Cambridge which amalgamated with the 13th in 1944. The information from this register and the rest of the archive will feed existing pages and create new.


Sitting Wolf

The following indistinct pictures of a seated Wolf (Cub?) are the only example that I have come across from Cambridge. Taken from the Cambridgeshire Collection it appears to be the original flag for the 23rd Cambridge St Matthew’s pack.

For pictures of other Cambridge based flag variants see General History/ Equipment/ Flags, poles and finials.


Lost woggle?

How to tie a scarf from The Scouter March 1924.

Not strictly a ‘Cambridge’ item but from the Cambridgeshire Collection and of use if you haven’t mastered the friendship knot.

Along with a gentle reminder for those who still wear a square scarf.

See Scout Scarves. A Cambridge History and the continuation piece Scout Scarves under General History/ Uniform.


Plums from the Cambridgeshire Collection

A most fruitful morning at the Library. Hidden in general scrapbooks are a fine set of photographs of camp gateways, but unfortunately not from Cambridge but Arrowe Park Jamboree. For this reason I have not reproduced them here.

Again not quite Cambridge central but letters concerning the earliest days of the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry, John Morrish/ Murrish, Aubrey Westlake and John Thompson Seton. A topic of ongoing interest to some and possibly new to the field.

A number of photographs that will be added to illustrate existing pieces and small pieces of information to add to the existing sets; though I am not quite sure where to include this one.